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. Our criminal defense lawyers can fight the charges and help you get on with your life.
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 unaware that a “felony” hit and run can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, VC 20001 is charged as a misdemeanor if only minor injuries are caused by a motor vehicle accident. Serious injuries or death usually result in a felony charge.
The penalties for a misdemeanor and felony charge can include the following:
- 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
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 immediately contact a professional criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles if they face 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
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. Call the Simmrin Law Group as soon as possible after facing felony hit-and-run charges in California.
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 on the side. She can see the other vehicle’s driver limp and injured against the window. Afraid of the charges she will face, the woman reverses and flees the scene. She could be charged with a felony hit and run.
A man takes his car out for a spin on the weekend. While driving, he brushes a motorcycle. The motorcyclist throws 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. He could face VC 20001 charges.
Felony hit-and-run cases happen more often than you might think in California and in different ways. Let a California criminal defense attorney from the Simmrin Law Group review your case to determine if these charges are correct and, if so, how to fight them in court.
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, calling our office, or submitting our contact form. A California criminal defense lawyer is waiting to help you defend the charges levied against you.
Do not risk spending time in jail, having to pay hefty fines, and losing friends and family over these charges. Call the Simmrin Law Group today to schedule an appointment.