The state of California requires drivers to stop if they are part of a motor vehicle collision. Refusal to stop after a collision can lead to the following charges:
- California Vehicle Code Section 20001: Felony Hit and Run
- California Vehicle Code Section 20002: Misdemeanor Hit and Run
Generally, drivers who do not stop if they have injured or killed another person will face felony charges. Learn more about the distinction between these charges and the penalties for a conviction from the Simmrin Law Group.
The Legal Definition of Felony Hit and Run in California
Felony hit and run charges can apply if:
- A Driver is in an Accident
- The Accident Causes Injuries or Death
- The Driver Was Aware of the Injuries or Death AND
- The Driver Failed to Perform Their Necessary Duties
Drivers can face felony hit and run charges even if they are not 100% sure that an injury or a death occurred. If a reasonable person could tell that injuries or death were probable in the accident, felony hit and run charges can apply.
In this situation, necessary duties can involve:
- Immediately Stopping a Vehicle
- Offering Assistance to Injured Individuals
A driver may also need to provide personal information after an accident. Personal information may include:
- Their Name and Address
- The Name and Address of the Owner of the Vehicle
- Their Driver’s License Information
- The Registration Information for Their Vehicle
Note that a driver can face hit and run charges for leaving the scene of an accident they did not cause.
The Penalties for a Felony Hit and Run Conviction
Many drivers in California are not aware that “felony” hit and run can actually be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, VC 20001 is charged as a misdemeanor of only minor injuries are caused by the motor vehicle accident. Serious injuries or a death usually results in a felony charge.
The penalties for a misdemeanor and felony charge can include:
- Misdemeanor Charges: Up to $10,000
- Felony Charges: Up to $10,000
- Misdemeanor Charges: Up to 1 Year in Jail
- Felony Charges: Up to 4 Years in Prison
Note that drivers may face additional legal penalties if they are charged with other crimes, such as reckless driving. Drivers accused of felony hit and run can face many additional charges, including:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e): Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs
Legal Defenses for Felony Hit and Run Charges
Building a defense for a felony hit and run charge can be challenging. Drivers should contact a professional criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away if they are facing these charges. A skilled lawyer may be able to argue:
You Did Not Realize You Were in a Collision
Sometimes, motor vehicle accidents can happen so quickly that they can be difficult to notice. If an individual could reasonably be unaware that they were in a collision, they may not face charges under VC 20001.
You Could Not Safely Stay at the Accident Scene
There are instances where it would be dangerous for a driver to stay at the scene of an accident. Sometimes staying to help would put the driver in danger. In this circumstance, drivers may be able to leave without being charged with a hit and run.
A lawyer can help drivers facing VC 20001 navigate the court system in Los Angeles.
Examples of Felony Hit and Run Cases
The following examples can be used to understand VC 20001 charges:
A woman is out driving. She crosses an intersection after her light turns red and hits another vehicle in the side. She can see that the driver of the other vehicle is limp and bleeding against the window. Afraid of the charges she will face, the woman reverses and flees the scene. She could be charged with felony hit and run.
A man takes his car out for a spin on the weekend. While driving, he brushes a motorcycle. The motorcyclist ends up thrown off the bike, tumbling across the road and not moving. The man panics and does not think anyone saw him hit the driver, so he continues on. He could face VC 20001 charges.
The Help You Need after a Felony Hit and Run Charge
Drivers can get professional help on their side by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today. Our team of legal professionals can help you take on California Vehicle Code Section 20001: Felony Hit and Run violations. Get more information about how we can help with a FREE consultation.
You can reach us by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.