Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Criminal Lawyers Advocating for Defendants in the Clearwater Area

Many people are frightened when they get into an accident. Sometimes they have been driving drunk and are scared of DUI charges. Sometimes they do not have insurance coverage and think that it would be better to flee. However, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. The law requires you to stop if you get into an accident that causes damage to another car or injures or kills another person. If you do not stop, you may be charged with a crime, and you should hire a Clearwater criminal defense attorney. Hanlon Law fights for the rights of the accused.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

A hit and run occurs if you did not stay at the scene of the accident and do the things that the law requires you to do when property is damaged or when people are injured or killed in a car accident. The most minor hit and run is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor.

Under Florida Statute section 316.063, you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident, and the only damage was to a car with nobody inside or near it. If you get into that kind of accident, you are supposed to stop and find the car's owner and leave a written note with your information, including your name, address, and vehicle registration number. You are also supposed to immediately notify the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority. If you leave the scene and get charged, you can face a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

When the other car is attended or being driven, and you get into an accident, you are supposed to stop and perform certain actions. You should give your name, vehicle registration number, and address to the other driver. You may need to give information to a police officer who is called to the scene, and you will also need to provide your license or permit if asked. What if somebody is hurt at the scene? In that case, you are supposed to provide help. You should call for an ambulance or call the police if the person needs medical care or requests help.

If, instead of offering aid, you leave, you could be charged with the crime of leaving the scene of an accident, which is more commonly known as a hit and run. A prosecuting attorney hoping to get a conviction must show beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) you were operating a car (2) that got into a crash (3) that injured or killed someone or damaged their property, (4) you knew or had reason to know that you were in an accident and that there were injuries, death, or property damage, but (5) you willfully did not stop or give the information and aid that you were required to provide under the law.

If you injured someone and left the scene, you can be charged with a third-degree felony hit and run. The sentence may be up to 5 years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine. If you killed someone and left the scene, you can be charged with a first-degree felony. This can result in a maximum sentence of 30 years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine.

Sometimes, the prosecutor investigates and finds that in addition to a hit and run, you were driving drunk or driving recklessly at the time of the accident. If they prove the case, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison, and you will face the revocation of your license.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Attorney in the Clearwater Area

A hit and run is not a light matter. However, there may be strong defenses available. Perhaps you did provide reasonable assistance or did not know that there was a crash that involved damage, injuries, or death. If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Clearwater, you may be sentenced harshly in criminal court and should discuss your situation with a lawyer. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form. We also represent people who have been charged with domestic violence and other serious crimes.