Hit and Run Defense Lawyer | Orange County

What is a “Hit and Run”?

A hit and run occurs when a vehicle involved in a collision does not stop after the event, but rather leaves the scene without providing contact information. Hit and Run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case and the amount of damage that was caused during the collision. The California Vehicle Code distinguishes between two types of hit and run charges: those that involved an injury (VC 20001) and those that did not involve an injury (VC 20002). Hit and run charges involving an injury can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor under VC 20001, while a hit and run that did not involve an injured victim can only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under VC 20002(a).

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What Must Be Proven to Convict Someone of a Felony Charge | VC 20001

A prosecutor must prove four things in order to successfully convict a person of a felony hit and run violation:

  • While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicular collision
  • The accident caused serious injury or death to someone other than the defendant
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known, that he had been involved in an accident that injured or killed another person
  • The defendant failed to stop at the scene of the collision.

What Must Be Proven to Convict Someone of a Misdemeanor Charge | VC 20001 & VC 20002(a)

  • While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicular collision
  • No other party was seriously injured or killed. 
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known, that s/he had been involved in a collision
  • The defendant failed to stop at the scene of the collision.

Hit & Run Penalties and Sentencing | What You’re Facing

The penalties for a hit and run under VC 20001 can be quite severe. It can be charged as a “wobbler offense”, meaning the prosecutor can charge the accused with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the facts of the case and the severity of the injuries involved. 

Felony Violation of VC 20001

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000.

Misdemeanor Violation of VC 20001

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to one year
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000.

Misdemeanor Violation of VC 20002(a) | No Injury

  • Imprisonment in a county jail for up to 6 months
  • A fine of up to $1,000

How To Get a Hit & Run Charge Dropped | Possible Defenses

There are many valid defenses to a hit-and-run charge. But in order to receive a strong defense, you need an aggressive team of hit and run defense lawyers that have successfully defended hundreds of those accused of hit and run charges and know the most effective defenses to utilize to obtain a positive outcome in your case. The defense strategies that will be used in your case will depend upon the specific facts of your case. Here are some defenses that we have successfully used in the representation of our clients facing hit and run charges:

Not Driving the Vehicle

The prosecutor has to prove that you were driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. If they can’t do this, then their entire case against you will fall apart, requiring the dismissal of the charges. For example, one of your friends may have been operating your vehicle at the time of the collision, but you were wrongfully charged with the hit and run crime.

Did Not Willfully Leave the Scene

The prosecutor also has to demonstrate through competent evidence that you willfully left the scene before exchanging information. There are some scenarios where it is reasonable for you to have left the scene of the accident. For example, you may have had to leave the scene due to immediate safety or health concerns. If you can show that you had a reasonable concern for your safety or the safety of loved ones with you due to the actions of another person at the scene this may act as a valid defense to the hit and run charge.

Lack of Knowledge of An Accident

Another legal defense to a hit and run charge is that you did not realize that you had been involved in a collision. There have been many hit-and-run accidents in Southern California where a driver hit a pedestrian but truly did not know that it happened. This could happen if you were driving a larger vehicle such as an SUV-type car or large passenger truck or if your range of vision was limited due to weather conditions at the time of the accident. In other situations, the impact to your vehicle could have been minimal and you did not realize you had struck or been struck by another vehicle.

Unable to Provide Reasonable Assistance

If you were physically unable to stop and provide reasonable assistance, then you can’t be charged with a VC 20001 hit and run crime. You may have also been hurt in the crash and were taken away via ambulance or another driver. The accident could have occurred in an unsafe area with the threat of secondary collisions. If this was the case, it may not have been safe for you to have remained at the scene of the collision.

24/7 Communication With Your Attorney | The Wallin & Klarich Way

The hit and run defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been defending our Southern California clients from these types of criminal charges for over 40 years. We have a 24/7 communication policy with our clients so you know exactly what’s going on at all stages of your case. We want our clients to be active participants in the defense of their hit-and-run cases. We know the ins and outs of the courts in Orange County as well as in Los
Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties and know what it takes to successfully defend our hit and run clients.

History of Success | Wallin & Klarich Track Record of Winning Cases

Don’t just take our word for it about our skills, knowledge, and resources to win these cases. Do research on our success in similar cases throughout Southern California. You’ll find that Wallin & Klarich has an excellent reputation among local judges and other attorneys. We know how to win tough cases and the prosecutors know that we will not back down. Read how some of our previous clients felt about us: 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we understand that this can be a very stressful and scary experience, but you don’t have to go through it alone. With offices throughout Southern California, one of our experienced hit-and-run defense lawyers is only a quick free phone call away to begin to help you in your defense.

Contact us online or call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for a free phone consultation. With offices in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles, we are only a phone call away. During your initial consultation, we will ask about the facts of your case. We will discuss every aspect of your case and go over the potential defenses that may be available in your case. When it matters most, you can rely on Wallin & Klarich to defend your rights. 


All of the information provided on this page was retrieved from the following source:

1. [California Vehicle Code Section 20001 & 20002: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=19001-20000&file=20000-20018]

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Although it is difficult to do, there are many facts of the case that must align in order for tee prosecution to successfully convict the defendant of hit and run. Check out our "possible defenses" section for some of the arguments that have helped us get our clients' charges dropped in the past!

You will most likely be facing a misdemeanor charge under California Vehicle Code 20002(a). Given the fact that misdemeanor charges are wobblers, the prosecution could potentially push for a felony conviction. You should consult an attorney immediately to get ahead of this.

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    If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, now is the time to contact us.

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