May 7, 2020 By Paul Wallin

What are the Legal Defenses to Hit & Run?

Although the deck is stacked against any criminal defendant due to the vast resources available to the prosecution, a variety of possible defenses to hit & run in California may be appropriate in a specific case. An experienced hit & run attorney in Orange County can explain that the prosecution must prove each element of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction.


If charged with CVC 20001, the district attorney will try and prove the following, as referenced in CALCRIM, California’s official criminal jury instructions:

For CVC 20002, the proof required is similar. The primary difference is that the charges indicate the defendant knew the accident was one that caused damage to any property rather than injury or death. In addition, the statutory requirements after an accident causing only property damage are less inclusive than for CVC 20001.


Among the most common defenses a hit & run attorney will employ based on the circumstances of the case are:

  • Mistake of fact – If the evidence will support such a conclusion, there are numerous ways to dispute the facts. It is possible a defendant was unaware the auto struck something. Perhaps the defendant was aware of striking something but mistakenly believed it was an animal. Alternately, it may be alleged the defendant realized something hit the car but thought the contact was initiated by a thrown object. And even if he or she was aware of an accident involving another auto, there may be a good faith belief that the accident did not result in injury or property damage. A thorough investigation of the case, independent of that conducted by the police and prosecution, is necessary to provide a hit & run attorney the tools needed to mount a vigorous defense.
  • Involvement in an accident – Owing to the nature of hit & runs, the vehicle alleged to have caused the damage or injury may not be at the scene. In trying to determine what occurred, others involved in the accident or independent eye-witnesses may provide partial license plate numbers or other identifying information. If that information is inaccurate, the wrong person can become a suspect. Even if the car is properly identified, the owner may not have had control over the vehicle during the relevant time period or multiple individuals may have had access. The defendant may not have been “involved” in the accident, as per the meaning of the statute.
  • Threat to life or safety – If the defendant driver had a reasonable belief personal safety or the safety of others was in question, driving in a certain manner or leaving the scene may be explained in a different light.

Contact a Wallin & Klarich Hit & Run Attorney in Orange County Today

Hit & run charges can have serious consequences, especially if injury or death results. Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience defending these cases and are one of the premier vehicular manslaughter attorneys available. Contact us today.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.

Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 730-5300 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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