Hit & Run Defense Attorney | Torrance 

Wallin & Klarich has spent over 40 years defending those accused of hit & run offenses. We have offices located all throughout Southern California and will be there when you call. From your first consultation, we will ask you for the facts of your case and immediately start building a defense to help you get the outcome you are looking for. Call us today for a free consultation at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 and get advice from a skilled and experienced hit and run defense attorney.  

What Is A Hit & Run? 

Hit-run-2A hit and run occurs when a driver leaves the scene of a collision without stopping to properly identify themself to the other person involved in the event or to the police. In California, the Vehicle Code (VC) distinguishes hit & run by separating the charge into two different categories, by felony and misdemeanor. If a hit and run involves personal injuries, then the charge can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A hit and run that does not involve personal injury will be prosecuted only as a misdemeanor. 

What Must Be Proven To Convict Someone Of A Felony Charge | VC 20001 

The California statute VC 20001 states “the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004.” In other words, a driver who is involved in a collision where someone is injured or killed must remain at the scene until emergency personnel tells them they are free to go. The prosecution must prove the following elements to convict a person of a felony hit and run: 

  • While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicular collision;
  • The collision was the cause of serious injury or death to someone other than the defendant; (Note* does not have to be the other driver)  
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that he was involved in a collision that injured or killed another person; and 
  • The defendant failed to stop at the scene to provide reasonable assistance, and/or to give personal information to the police or the person injured 

If the prosecution fails to prove all the elements above, a defendant cannot be convicted of a felony hit and run. Also, note that VC 20001 is a wobbler offense which means that it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the severity of the injury caused and the criminal history of the defendant. 

What Must Be Proven To Convict Someone Of A Misdemeanor Charge | VC 20002 

The California statute VC 20002 states “the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop that vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.” in other words, if a driver is involved in a collision where some type of property is damaged, then they must remain at the scene until they have exchanged their personal information or told they can leave by emergency personnel. The prosecution must prove the following elements to convict a person of a misdemeanor hit and run:

  • While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle collision;
  • The collision caused damage to someone else’s property;
  • The defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, that he was involved in a collision that caused damage to property; and 
  • The defendant failed to stop at the scene of the collision and/or failed to give the person of the damaged property their personal information 

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

A hit and run charge can be quite severe, especially if the collision caused personal injuries or death. The penalties also are determined by the severity of the harm caused and a person’s criminal history. It is important to remember for both felony or misdemeanor hit and run charges, you do not have to be the person who caused the collision. If you leave the scene of an accident where injury to a person or property occurs, even if you did not cause the accident, you can still be charged with a hit and run. There are times when it does not appear that any person or property damage occurred, but you should still provide personal information to the other person to be safe. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the other vehicle or any situational evidence if possible. 

Felony Violation Of VC 20001

If the prosecution decides to charge your VC 20001 offense as a felony, then the possible penalties include:

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

*A judge may award a defendant to serve a portion of or all of their sentence on felony probation instead of prison depending on the defendant’s history and other circumstances 

Misdemeanor Violation Of VC 20001

If the prosecution decides to charge your VC 20001 offense as a misdemeanor, then the possible penalties include: 

  • Imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year; and/or
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000

* A judge may award a defendant to serve a portion of or all of their sentence on misdemeanor probation instead of jail depending on the defendant’s history and other circumstances 

Misdemeanor Violation Of VC 20002(a) | No Injury

A charge for VC 20002 is less severe than VC 20001 because there is no personal injury involved. However, it can still result in jail time and heavy fines. 

The penalties for a VC 20002 charge include: 

  • Imprisonment in county jail for a maximum of six months; and/or 
  • A maximum fine of up to $1,000

* A judge may award a defendant to serve a portion or all of their sentence on misdemeanor probation instead of jail depending on the defendant’s history and other circumstances 

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

There are many valid defenses when it comes to fighting against a hit and run charges. In order to receive a strong defense, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has a successful history of winning hit and run cases. At Wallin & Klarich, we have successfully defended hundreds of clients facing hit and run charges and know the best defenses to utilize for each particular case. We do this by analyzing all the facts of your particular case and building a strong defense based on the evidence provided. A defendant can potentially get their charges dismissed by asserting one of the following affirmative defenses. 

Not Driving The Vehicle Or Misidentified 

One defense that can prove you did not commit a hit and run is that you were not the person driving the vehicle or even involved with the collision. There are many instances where a person is accused of a hit and run because they have the same color car as the person who actually committed the hit and run. Car collisions often happen fast and can be unexpected which gives the victim very little time to determine who hit them. It is even harder for the victim to identify the driver if they have tinted windows or drive off immediately. If a victim of a hit and run isn’t sure who hit them, and only noticed the color and make of the vehicle, then the police may end up charging the wrong person, who just so happens to have the same color and make of the vehicle involved in the crime. There are other instances where an owner of a vehicle was not driving but their name is registered to the vehicle involved.

For example, Joe steals Mike’s car and accidentally hits Parker’s car while trying to get away. Joe no longer wants the vehicle because he’s afraid the police will find it in his possession, so he returns it to Mike without Mike ever knowing what happened. Parker was able to get the license plate number of Mike’s car and reported a hit and run to the police. The police go to Mike’s house and arrest him thinking he was the one involved in the collision. Mike was able to prove that he was on a zoom call for work at the time the hit and run occurred and therefore, the charges were dropped. 

There Were No Personal Injuries or Property Damages 

A person can present a defense for a hit and run if they can show that they caused no personal injuries or damages to any property at the time of the crash. The prosecution does not care if the person who committed the hit and run was personally injured or had personal property damage. All the prosecution cares about is whether the victim was personally injured or had damage to their property. 

For example, Joe is driving a vehicle and hits another car in a parking lot. There is nobody in the car and no visible damage to the car is present, so Joe drives off. A pedestrian saw the incident and reported Joe’s license plate number to the police who arrested Joe for a hit and run. Joe happened to take a picture of the vehicle he hit and was able to prove that no damage occurred to any person or the vehicle which will likely mean his hit and run charge will be dismissed. 

Lack Of Knowledge Of An Accident 

Another legal defense to a hit and run charge is that you did not realize you had been involved in a collision. It is not uncommon for minor car collisions to occur where one or both drivers were not aware of the incident at the time it occurred. It is also common for drivers to hit pedestrians without knowing due to the fact that there is not much force to a car that hits something much lighter in weight. This defense will be easier to prove if you own an older vehicle that does not have the automatic sensors that go off when in close proximity to an object. 

Unable To Provide Reasonable Assistance 

If you are physically unable to stop and provide reasonable assistance, then you can’t be charged with a hit and run. There are instances where the driver of the collision was unable to stop for a particular reason. Whether it was because there was no safe place to pull over, or the other driver appeared to look angry and wanted to fight the defendant. Also, if the defendant was seriously injured from the collision and needed to drive to the emergency room right away, they could assert this defense. 

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

Wallin and KlarichThe criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending those accused of hit and run charges for over 40 years. We have handled hundreds of hit and run cases and have provided a variety of different defenses that have helped our clients get the outcome they were looking for. Our communication with our clients is the first step to winning in the courtroom. We are upfront and honest with our clients from the beginning and provide updated information at all times as their case moves along. We return phone calls and emails within 24 hours and have a criminal defense attorney on call at all times for emergencies, ready to respond to your questions and concerns as quickly as possible.

 

Our communication and transparency have led us to many favorable outcomes and have left many clients happy and satisfied when all is said and done. We believe all our clients are innocent when they come to us and will treat you and your loved ones with the respect that all our clients deserve. 

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

Our history of success comes from our entire team’s efforts to make sure each client receives the best representation possible. Our history of winning cases is a reason why so many clients hire us because it gives them relief knowing we will fight for their rights and not settle for anything less. The prosecutors know this as well and understand that we will not back down from anything. We know all the local courthouses in Torrance and the surrounding areas and know what it takes to successfully defend our clients from hit and run charges. Wallin & Klarich has an excellent reputation that has spread throughout Southern California and our most notable cases can be viewed on our webpage. 

The Bottom Line 

We understand that this can be a very stressful time for you and your loved ones, but you do not have to do it alone. We can ease some of your stress and help reassure you that you made a great decision when choosing us to defend your rights and freedom.  With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, and Los Angeles, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you who can aggressively defend you. If you or a loved one are facing hit & run charges, give us a call and we will do all we can to help you win your case.

Call us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation and see why we have been the go-to assault defense attorney in Torrance for more than 40 years! 

21151 S. Western Ave.
Suite 233,
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 527-5500
(888) 749-0034
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