In California, a hit-and-run accident that only includes property damage will generally be considered to be fairly minor. This means that the investigating officers and the may be willing to resolve the case outside of court. Normally, this will involve the victim agreeing to accept a monetary settlement in lieu of prosecution. When this occurs, the officer could choose to not forward the case to the district attorney's office, and the case would never be prosecuted. If the case does get filed in court, it is still possible for a criminal defense attorney to resolve it outside of going to trial. If you have been accused of a hit-and-run accident, it is important that you get the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

When cases are filed in court

When a hit-and-run case has been filed as a misdemeanor, California Penal Code §§ 1377 and 1378 allow what is known as a civil compromise. Under these statutes, a victim who is willing to tell the court that he or she has received full compensation for the hit-and run accident can lead the court to permanently stay the criminal proceedings when requested to do so by the criminal defense lawyer. This results in a dismissal of the charge, and the case cannot be refiled again later. This is up to the judge's discretion, and he or she will want to hear from the victim in order to make certain that the victim does not want prosecution. It helps if the prosecutor is also in agreeance with the stay and dismissal.

In most cases, victims will be satisfied by accepting a monetary settlement and waiving the criminal prosecution. When the victim is on board, judges and prosecutors normally will be as well.

Another possibility for a misdemeanor hit-and-run case is resolvig it through a negotiated deferred entry of judgment. If you do this, then you will plead guilty to the offense, but your sentencing will be deferred to a later point in time. During the intervening time, you may be required to perform some community service or to take a class. If you successfully fulfill the requirements, then the prosecutor will withdraw the plea and your case will be dismissed. With a deferred entry of judgment, the hit-and-run conviction will not appear on your record and California law says that there would thus be no conviction. While this might be more frequently used in cases of drug possession, it is also allowed for misdemeanor hit-and-run cases.

If your case has been filed in court, the most desirable outcome is one in which you never enter a guilty plea and the prosecutor agrees that he or she will continue your case for a time. During that time, you would complete community service or take classes. This type of outcome is called a district attorney continuance. It is the best outcome because you never have to plead guilty and your case is then dismissed.

How we might be able to help you

As the leading criminal defense law firm in Orange County, we are often able to negotiate agreements such as the ones described for our clients who are facing charges of misdemeanor hit and run. Attorney Robert J. Hickey has years of experience in representing clients throughout southern California and may be a great choice for you.

If your charges have not yet been forward to the district attorney, he may negotiate with the investigating officer to secure an agreement not to file the charges in exchange for your payment of restitution to the victim for the amount of property damage. If your case has been filed, Mr. Hickey will negotiate with the district attorney in an effort to secure a district attorney continuance or a deferred entry of judgment. Finally, if Mr. Hickey identifies other possible defenses, such as no property damage was caused or that you were not the person driving, he may work to build your defense in order to try to win dismissal of your charges. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with Orange County criminal defense attorney Robert J. Hickey.