Many people assume that leaving the scene of an accident, or a hit and run charge, is a simple traffic offense. However, this is not the case. Hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal charge, which can leave a permanent mark on your record, cause insurance rates to increase, and if you receive too many points on your license, suspend your license.If you are facing charges for a hit and run accident, speak to a criminal defense attorney today. Do not take this chance in court alone. Contact experienced hit and run defense attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal, as soon as possible to begin working on your case. You can receive a free case evaluation when you call 888-626-1108 today.
Hit and Run Defined by Florida Law
If you are in a motor vehicle accident and leave immediately or speak with the other parties involved and leave before the police arrive, you may receive a charge for a hit and run. One example would be if you rear-end another car and fail to stop. Or, if you do stop and speak with the other driver, they call the authorities, and you leave before they arrive. However, this is not the only time the law applies.
According to Florida Statue 316.061, hit and run, or leaving the scene of an accident, charges also apply to property damage caused by an accident. For example, if you crash into a person's fence and flee, law enforcement may charge you with a hit and run. If you hit a parked car with no one in it and leave, you can be charged with hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident. Property can be either private or public.
Penalties for a Hit and Run Charge in Florida
If a judge convicts you for a hit and run charge, the penalties can be quite steep. For this reason, you must hire a hit and run defense attorney immediately. The potential sentencing depends on the severity of the accident, whether any persons sustained injuries and the value of property damage.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run Charges
Even if you only receive a misdemeanor charge, you may still face jail time. It is not a circumstance to take lightly. It is also likely that you will need to pay significant fines, including repairs for any property damage. The amount of money can add up quickly.
Felony Hit and Run Charges
If a person sustains an injury as a result of the accident, you will likely face felony charges punishable by up to five years in prison. If a person dies as a result of those injuries or is killed in the accident, you can face up to thirty years in prison and also receive charges of vehicular manslaughter. You will then be a convicted felon for life, which will make it difficult to find employment and housing.
If your children were in the car at the time of the accident and you are a co-parent, they may try to use this against you in court to prove that you are an unfit parent and take custody of your children. You could be charged with neglect of a child or contributing to the delinquency of a minor. You need the best hit and run attorney fighting on your side to ensure that these things do not happen. Do not let a single mistake define the rest of your life. Seek legal counsel immediately.
Additionally, if you are involved in a hit and run accident while committing another crime, such as driving under the influence or following a burglary, your charges may be more severe. You will likely face steeper consequences. It is imperative that you have a hit and run defense lawyer fighting on your side.
Best Defense for Hit and Run Charges
There are several possible defense strategies that an experienced hit and run defense lawyer will know to use in court. This provides the chance to reduce your charges or have them dismissed entirely.
A Lack of Evidence
In order to receive a conviction, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you are the individual involved in the accident. They must be able to prove that you were the person driving or in control of the vehicle and that you left the scene. If they cannot prove it was you, they may not be able to convict you. This can happen if a friend borrows your car, for example, and leaves the scene of an accident without your knowledge.
A plausible defense for misdemeanor hit and run charges where no one sustains an injury as the result of the crash may arguably be in the case of a medical emergency. For example, if you are rushing an individual to the hospital because of a life-threatening condition.
A Lack of Knowledge
You may have an easier time in court if your hit and run attorney can prove that you were unaware that an accident took place. If you clipped the side of a car by accident or backed up into a mailbox, for example, and did not have knowledge of what you did, an element of the crime cannot be proven, and thus your attorney should argue that the charges should be dismissed.
Negotiation with the Prosecutor
The ability to negotiate with the prosecutor, particularly if any of the three instances above are true, is extremely important. However, it is essential that you have an experienced hit and run defense attorney on your side. They will know how to properly present the evidence and negotiate in the best way possible. You may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Matt Shafran is a former prosecutor who has personal insight on how prosecutors think and react to specific negotiating tactics. Let his experience as a former prosecutor be used to your benefit.
Hiring a Hit and Run Lawyer in Florida
If you are facing charges for a hit and run accident in West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or leaving the scene of an accident, do not wait to contact a hit and run defense attorney.