5 Defenses for Your Hit and Run Charges

car accident

Fighting Against Hit & Run Accusations in CA

Hit and run offenses in California can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on various factors such as the type of accident, severity of the damage and other party’s injuries, among others.

You may envision a hit and run offense to be something as serious as a driver slamming into a family’s vehicle and fleeing the scene with loud, screeching tires to avoid getting caught. Or you may picture it as a driver attempting to parallel park but has no luck, and lightly hits the car behind them, causing them to drive away and find another place to park.

Both of these scenarios describe opposite extremes but have one thing in common: A hit and run offense.

CA Hit and Run Laws

Hit and run offenses don’t always involve people or other vehicles, contrary to the examples above. They can involve property such as mailboxes, bikes and traffic signs. Under California Vehicle Code Section 20002:

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. The driver shall immediately do either of the following:

  • The driver should find the owner and give them their name and address information, and by request, present their driver’s license and vehicle registration.
  • The driver should leave a written notice stating the circumstances, include their and the owner of the vehicle’s name and address and immediately notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred or if the collision occurred in unincorporated territory, the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol.

Hit and Run Defenses

A range of things can go wrong in a hit and run incident. You may have forgotten to write your address or phone number on a written note, or waited for a “suspiciously” long time to notify the police of your hit and run offense. In either case, you may face misdemeanor or felony charges and must combat this outcome with full force.

Our Santa Rosa hit and run defense lawyer at Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. can employ high-caliber defense strategies to support your case depending on the details of your alleged incident. The five most common hit and run defenses include:

  1. There was no damage to the other person’s property, only yours: The laws technically only cover what to do if another person’s property was damaged. If there was no damage to the other person’s property and only to yours, the court may dismiss your case.
  2. You followed the law and exchanged the required information: Under the law, you must exchange certain information with the owner of the damaged property, or leave a written note containing such information (described above) if you can’t find the owner. Thus, if you did your part and exchanged the information required by the law, you can’t be guilty of a hit and run.
  3. You were unaware of the accident and subsequent property damage or injuries: Without knowledge of being in an accident, it’s hard to press charges. You’d be surprised to learn how often people think they drove over a pothole or road bump when, in reality, they got in an accident. The prosecutor must prove that you knew, or reasonably should have known, that you were in an accident that resulted in property damage. Without knowledge, there’s little to work with, and your case may get dismissed as a result.
  4. You were in an emergency: If you were driving to the hospital or responding to an emergency, maybe because your pregnant wife was in labor, you may be able to justify why you couldn’t stop after hitting another person’s property or lacked knowledge of an accident ever occurring.
  5. You didn’t do it: People let their friends and family members borrow their cars all the time. Just because you’re the registered owner of the vehicle doesn’t indicate that you’re guilty of a hit and run offense. Thus, if you weren’t driving at the time of your alleged hit and run offense, you can’t be prosecuted; only the person who was driving your vehicle can.

Hit and run charges require serious legal defense, or else you may suffer jail, fines and the loss of your driver’s license. Luckily, you can retain our proven defense attorney at the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. to aggressively defend your freedom and fight for a successful result on your behalf.

Let’s work to put your charges behind you. Contact (707) 418-5352 now!