Written by attorney John Stephen Hager

Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Felony or Misdemeanor

When a driver is involved in any type of motor vehicle accident, they are supposed to stop and exchange information and provide medical assistance. When a driver fails to stop and flees the scene, they can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the case.

Being involved in a car or truck accident can be very frightening. People aren’t always thinking sanely in the minutes immediately following an auto accident. Between the adrenaline rush, a racing heart, and nerves people can run or flee the scene of an accident.

Unfortunately, in the state of Florida people can get into a lot of trouble if they are involved in a car accident and they leave the scene without stopping to see if anybody was hurt, or to exchange insurance information. The general belief is that if you are involved in a car accident of any kind, you must stop your vehicle and find out if anybody was injured. Even if the accident only involved property damage, you are still required to leave a note with your contact information on it.

The greatest concern for law enforcement is that if two cars are involved in an accident and one drives off without stopping, somebody could be seriously injured inside one of the vehicles. Sometimes the only witness to an accident is the other driver. If that driver hurries away without stopping to check on the injured passengers, the injured parties might have to lie there waiting for a long time until another driver passes by. What if someone was lying there bleeding to death, but nobody calls an ambulance to help them until it is too late? What if a child or infant were in the car, or a pregnant woman? Sometimes the minutes immediately following an accident are crucial to saving a driver or passenger’s life, for this very reason law enforcement comes down hard on drivers who flee the scene of an accident.

How a driver is penalized for a hit and run accident varies upon the extent of damage caused, and whether or not anyone was injured or killed in the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage is a second degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and a fine up to $500.

Leaving the scene of an accident causing injury is a third degree felony offense, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $5,000.

The most serious of all hit and run offenses is leaving the scene of an accident causing death. This crime is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000.

These are very serious consequences, especially if you are normally a good, upstanding citizen and member of the community. If you have a good job and a family relying upon you, how would a conviction affect them? In order to fight these charges, you will need a highly qualified and skilled attorney working on your behalf. When you have a lot to lose, you can’t afford to risk your future and your freedom; contact a criminal defense attorney today!

Additional resources provided by the author

Hagar & Schwartz, P.A. is proud to defend those charged with criminal offenses in Miami, Florida. They believe that just because you were accused of or arrested for a crime, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are automatically guilty. It will be up to your criminal defense team to search for and unearth any mitigating circumstances that might serve to get your charges reduced or dropped entirely, and they will do just that. If they can find any circumstances that can reduce your penalties, they will find them! Don’t hesitate to contact a Miami criminal defense attorney from the firm at (800) 827-5193.

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