We are often asked how much jail time someone faces if involved in a hit and run. If you leave the scene of an accident, you could be charged with hit and run and face huge fines and jail time.
In California, there are two primary types of hit-and-run charges. Vehicle Code 20002 VC defines a misdemeanor, and Vehicle Code 20001 VC defines a felony hit and run.
It does not matter which driver was at fault in an accident. You are required to stop and exchange information. However, some drivers panic after an accident and immediately leave the scene.
Misdemeanor VC 20002 charges are by far the most common hit-and-run charges. They are generally described as leaving the scene of an auto accident without identifying themselves when there are no injuries. These car accidents involve traditional minor “fender benders.”
If you strike a parked vehicle or other property, you must make an effort to notify the owner, such as leaving a note on their damaged property.
The primary factors for a prosecutor to consider in hit-and-run charges will always depend on whether somebody was injured in the accident.
All California hit-and-run cases have four primary elements of the crimes that must be proven for a conviction:
- You were involved in a vehicle accident;
- You knew that you were involved in a car accident;
- The accident causes property damage or someone's injury or death;
- You failed to stop and render assistance or notify the police.
Prosecutors are required to prove all the factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Hit-and-run accidents are prevalent nowadays, especially in Los Angeles County.
There are so many vehicles and people on the road. Many people are involved in hit-and-runs. They leave the scene. They leave with their car or their vehicle at the scene, and then they're on the internet trying to find an attorney and figure out how to best handle things because maybe somebody got their license plate if they left the scene or left their car.
The police will eventually try to figure out what happened and who was driving. They'll either come to your house, or you'll get a letter in the mail, or you'll get a phone call, depending on several different factors.
Vehicle Code 20002 VC - Misdemeanor Hit and Run
When we talk about jail time or prison time for hit-and-run cases, it's usually the more severe cases where somebody gets injured.
VC 20002 defines the misdemeanor of hit and run as: “A vehicle driver who was involved in an accident only causing damage to property or vehicle shall stop at nearby that won't impede traffic or jeopardize the safety of other motorists.”
Vehicle Code 20002 VC cover s hit-and-run involving only property damage but no injury. It's always charged as a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face the following:
- a fine of up to $1000,
- six months in jail,
- a 2-point penalty on your driver's license.
When you're involved in a hit-and-run accident, and there is only property damage, it's not some idiotic amount like you crashed into a house and have no criminal record.
Then, usually, we should be able to keep you out of jail and try to work out a civil compromise or a misdemeanor, depending on what evidence the prosecutors have, what your criminal record looks like, and a host of other factors.
Vehicle Code 20001 VC – Felony Hit and Run
You're looking at serious prison time when a serious injury or death occurs in a hit-and-run situation.
Vehicle Code 20001 VC is a hit and run that causes physical injury or death to someone and is technically a "wobbler" offense, meaning it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.
However, any hit-and-run involving severe injury or death will be filed as a felony. If convicted, you face up to a $10,000 fine and up to 4 years in jail.
If you are involved in an accident, you hit a pedestrian, and that pedestrian dies or is seriously injured, then the police will do everything they can to find you.
Prosecutors will prosecute you, and you'll be looking at a hefty prison sentence and likely a strike on your criminal record.
What are the Related Crimes?
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC driving under the influence;
- Vehicle Code 23153 VC driving under the influence causing injury;
- Penal Code 192(c) PC vehicular manslaughter;
- Penal Code 191.5 PC - gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated;
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC - reckless driving;
- Vehicle Code 14601 VC - driving with a suspended license;
- Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC - evading the police in a vehicle.
Initial Review of the Hit and Run Case
When I get these cases and sit down and talk with a client, everything is confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege. We'll go over the details of what happened.
Whose fault it was. Why it happened, and then when it's all said and done, we'll figure out the best path moving forward because if you end up with a conviction for a felony hit and run involving injury, you're going to lose your driver's license in addition to catching jail or prison time for a significant period.
With all of these things on the line – your freedom, driver's license, reputation, criminal record- in my opinion, you want to get an attorney immediately.
Get to someone who has experience handling cases just like yours. I like to have you come in, and we discuss the details. We talk about what happened and why it happened.
One piece of a critical puzzle we may be missing is the injuries to the other party. Sometimes my clients come in, and they have no idea what the injuries are, whether or not the person survived the accident, and they'll probably look at the property damage.
If no one was hurt and there's a significant amount of property damage, hopefully, you had auto insurance. We can use that insurance to satisfy the restitution in the criminal case.
Contact a Hit and Run Defense Professional
There are a lot of different moving parts when you talk about hit and run; when you talk about jail time and prison time.
You also have to look at whether it's a felony or misdemeanor.
Usually, if there's only property damage in a hit-and-run case and nobody gets hurt, it will be filed as a misdemeanor.
On the other hand, if somebody gets hurt, it will likely be filed as a felony, and if the injury is nasty, they could go through a great bodily injury (GBI) allegation there. That's a 3-year enhancement tacked onto whatever sentence you get for the hit-and-run.
So, you get the feeling that this is serious stuff. You need the best. You've come to the right place. I've been doing this for 30 years. I've worked for the DA's office and a superior court judge and have been defending and helping people like you since the early 1990s.
Pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. You can contact the Hedding Law Firm by phone or fill out the contact form for a free case evaluation.