I was the driver in a hit & run. I got a letter requesting I call to discuss it. What can I expect & what's the likely outcome?
I was the driver in a hit and run that resulted in property damage. Now 11 days later, I received a letter from the Police Department, for a hit and run report that has been filed. I'm listed as an involved party. It requested that I telephone the provided number to set an appointment to discuss the matter. My vehicle had recently been purchased as my first car. A cheap fixer upper to work on while I simultaneously worked on getting my driver's license. So in other words, it was unregistered, uninsured with an unlicensed driver at the wheel. That's the reason I ran from the scene, leaving my car behind. But only after confirming the occupant of the other car was uninjured. I'm not proud of what I've done, I just panicked. Now I'm even more scared. I intend to call as requested, first thing in the morning. But I don't know what to say or what to expect. Nor what the likely finale outcome will be. I'm only 23, I don't want to go back to jail, especially when I've worked so hard to turn my life around. I think I just ruined my life...
6 attorney answers
You committed a crime. Don't talk to anyone until you've gotten advice from your own criminal defense lawyer.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments.
First of all calm down. Secondly DO NOT contact anyone, especially the police. All you will do is dig a deeper hole by incriminating yourself. Since you are a 23 year old I doubt you can afford a lawyer so if you are charged with a crime, you will be eligible for a public defender. You can tell them your story.
The short answer to your question is that you should not talk to the police about this incident without having an attorney present.
Absolutely do not make that call before you have consulted with and retained an attorney. Anything you say can and will be used against you. What is happening is that the police are doing an investigation and are writing reports to be forwarded to the District Attorney who files criminal charges. Whether you hire me or someone else, you need an attorney. Based on what you stated above, they are likely looking at 3 or 4 counts, depending. driving without a driver's license, without proof of financial responsibility, hit and run (hopefully there was no injury) and depending on the circumstances of the accident, any number of traffic violations. This is a serious matter.
This answer is based purely off matters of law. I have not reviewed your discovery or interviewed you about your personal situation. As a result, your exposure may vary. This answer does not create a binding legal relationship and unless we enter a formal agreement, I am not your attorney of record.
It’s quite possible that the witness only passed on your license plate to the police and not a description of you. Even though the vehicle is registered to you, this is likely not enough for a conviction unless you say something stupid. Do not call the police back, say nothing to anyone, call a lawyer and have him/her speak with the DA.
I agree with all of my colleagues and hope you take the wise advice provided and do not speak to police under any circumstances without an attorney. You could be facing infractions for driving without valid registration and insurance and possibly a misdemeanor for driving without a license. The hit and run could also be a misdemeanor or a wobbler which would allow it to be charged as a felony depending on certain factors such as the amount of property damage or whether there was serious injury.
You should consult with an attorney who can assist with pre-file investigation which would include working with the prosecuting agency and law enforcement to help you avoid or reduce certain charges. The San Joaquin County Bar Association has a lawyer referral service that may provide pro bono or low cost lawyers if cost is an issue. Otherwise, you can get a public defender in the event that charges are filed. Best of luck!