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San Diego Hit & Run Lawyers

Hit and Run Defense Attorneys in San Diego

Anyone who has ever been in a collision can tell you that car accidents trigger powerful instincts.  Even drivers with the cleanest driving records sometimes have difficulty making the right decisions in the stressful moments immediately after a collision.  Regardless of which driver is to blame, the urge to leave the scene of an accident can be overwhelming.  Shock, fear of confrontation, and nervousness about interaction with police can all lead to costly lapses in judgment and serious legal consequences.  Those drivers charged with hit and run in San Diego could face up to several years in prison if convicted of a felony.  Property damage, injuries to others, and being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance at the time of the accident, can make a difference in how the case is charged and the potential consequences in court if convicted.

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Hit and Run Charges (California Vehicle Code sections 20001-20002)

Drivers have a responsibility to perform certain duties following a car accident.  Failure to act swiftly and according to the Vehicle Code can lead to criminal charges.  In San Diego, charges of hit and run can range from minor incidents involving just property (VC 20002) to accidents involving injury or death (VC 20001).  The California Vehicle Code allows prosecutors to charge many hit and run crimes as wobbler offenses.  That means, depending on the circumstances, hit and run charges in San Diego County may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies.  Facts specific to the case, your own personal history, and the quality of your criminal defense representation can all affect the extent of the charges and the likelihood of conviction.

Accidents Resulting in Injury or Death


Drivers accused of contributing to accidents resulting in the injury or death of another can face charges of hit and run under VC 20001.  In California, drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury or death are required to remain on scene to render appropriate aid, contact emergency assistance, and offer personal identification.  These types of offenses may be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies.  Regardless of which driver is at fault, any driver suspected of leaving the scene early may be charged with hit and run under VC 20001 whenever a party to the collision is injured.

Accidents Resulting in Property Damage


Drivers accused of contributing to accidents causing property damage only may face misdemeanor charges of hit and run.  Under VC 20002, drivers suspected of causing property damage are required to offer their name, driver’s license, and insurance information to the other parties involved.  This can include leaving a note on damaged property left unattended, such as a parked vehicle or remote structure.  Drivers causing damage to public or federal property are required to report the incident to the police in a timely manner.

 

Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction in San Diego


The penalties for hit and run convictions can vary based on the charges, the extent of injuries or property damage, the location of the courthouse the case will be heard in, and the quality of your legal defense.

Those accused of misdemeanor hit and run pursuant to Vehicle Code section 20002 may face the following penalties if convicted:

  • Confinement to jail for up to six months
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Costly restitution payments and fees
  • Probation and possible loss of driving privileges with added DMV points and classes

San Diego drivers accused of felony hit and run may be facing:

  • Prison sentences up to 4 years, plus other possible sentencing enhancements
  • Fines up to $10,000, with additional restitution payments
  • Parole or probation, each with strict regulations to abide by
  • Loss of driving privileges with added DMV points and classes

A conviction for hit and run can also leave increase your exposure to a civil lawsuit.  Those found guilty of hit and run in San Diego face civil suits from persons injured in accidents, persons suffering property damage from an accident, and family members of those killed in car accidents.

Defense Against Hit and Run Charges


As you know by now, the stakes can be very high when charged with a hit and run.  Defending against charges of hit and run requires far more than a good understanding of the California Vehicle Code.  The best criminal lawyers work simultaneously exploring any and all viable defenses to the charges, while building up a mitigation packet in support of their clients that helps humanize them to the prosecution or judge.

Each case is unique, but common defenses to hit and run charges in San Diego can include:

  • Proving the accused made a reasonable attempt to give their identifying information
  • Affirming the accused did, in fact, stop and render assistance following an accident
  • Demonstrating cases of mistaken identity in instances of false accusations of hit and run
  • Explaining an unawareness to having been involved in an actual collision resulting in injury or property damage
  • Illustrating a need to leave the scene of an accident due to a legal necessity
  • For property damage cases, exploring a civil compromise/repayment for financial loss caused by damage, in order to have the criminal charges dismissed

The underlying facts surrounding your alleged hit and run, your criminal history (if any), personal background and the quality of your representation all impact your case.  Take control of your future by hiring a quality, locally experienced criminal defense firm.  We can help you. Call us for a case evaluation.

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