Understanding California’s Hit and Run Statutes

As an Orange County criminal defense attorney, I have seen many clients come into our office facing the serious charge of “Hit and Run.” Many of these clients have never even had a speeding ticket prior to this accident and they are astonished that they are now facing criminal charges.

The first thing that all of these cases have in common is the fact that the person who had the accident panicked. The panic caused them to make the wrong decision. The second thing that some of these cases have in common is that the client was unaware of their obligations under California law when an accident occurs to another person’s property. However, as any criminal defense lawyer will tell their clients, “ignorance of the law is not a good defense.”

In an effort to help everyone avoid being charged with a Hit-and-Run offense, we have explained the California laws regarding this criminal act and charge.

Hit And Run Statutes In California

The California Penal Code has divided the offense of Hit and Run into two categories – non-injury and injury events. Injury events can also include damage to property.

Under California Vehicle Code 20002 refers to a driver who causes damage to another person’s property only. Under this law, a person who causes damage to another person’s property with their vehicle must:

  • Pull over immediately in a manner that will not impede traffic or cause bodily harm to any person.
  • Must locate and notify the owner of the property damage and provide contact information.
  • If the property owner cannot be notified or reached, the person who caused the damage must leave a notice containing their contact information for the owner in a place that is easy to find.
  • Must notify the police of the accident and provide information necessary to complete an accurate report.

California Vehicle Code 20003 refers to an accident caused by a vehicle that involves injury or death of another person. This law requires that the driver of the vehicle stop immediately in a safe place and notify the driver and passengers in the other vehicle of all of their personal contact information. In addition to providing all contact information, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident and injury is expected to provide all reasonable assistance to the injured party until medical help arrives.

Charges You Will Face If You Leave The Scene Of An Accident

If you are charged for Hit and Run under California Vehicle Code 20002, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor has serious penalties attached to it, including possible jail time. If you are convicted under California Vehicle Code 20003, you will be charged with a felony. Felony charges are significantly more serious than a misdemeanor.

Being convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony can significantly impact your life. It can affect your job or your ability to get a job. A hit and run conviction will cause your car insurance rates to rise significantly and you may even be required to carry additional coverage on your policies. A conviction for a felony may even affect your ability to rent an apartment. A final impact will be that your personal life and your relationships will feel the strain of the conviction.

Speak With A Top Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing this type of criminal charge, it would be in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your options for fighting these charges. Our law firm has successfully represented many clients that have faced misdemeanor and criminal Hit and Run charges.

If you have any additional questions about Hit and Run in California, or any other criminal charges that you may be facing, we encourage you to speak with our law firm about your case. Our professional staff will schedule you an appointment to answer all your questions.