Written By: Thomas Weber
The penalties for a hit-and-run charge vary depending on the circumstances but often result in jail time or more. When individuals flee the scene of the accident, this is considered a criminal charge and could result in financial penalties. Overcoming hit-and-run charges are possible with the right criminal defense.
First, let’s get familiar with what exactly a hit-and-run charge is, what to do at the scene of an accident, and the steps to follow when involved in hit and run accidents to optimize your criminal defense. Contacting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can be essential to beating hit and run accidents. Read on for more information on how to handle your hit and run accident.
What Is a Hit-And-Run Accident Charge?
A hit-and-run is a crime that occurs after a car accident. Typically a hit-and-run driver is guilty of the following when involved in a car crash:
- Not stopping their vehicle at the scene of an accident
- Not providing adequate identification information
- Leaving the scene without offering assistance to any person injured as a result of the accident
When you are involved in an auto accident and someone is injured, Colorado law requires you to give the injured person reasonable assistance by taking the victim to a doctor or hospital or making arrangements for medical assistance. Some states require that the responsible party file a police report as well.
A hit-and-run incident could involve:
- Two vehicles
- A vehicle striking a pedestrian
- Accidents with another parked car
- Accidents involving someone else’s personal property
- Accidents against another stationary object
A criminal defense professional can help you understand the substantial risk of being charged with a hit and run and offer guidance with relevant information about state laws and common defenses you can use to avoid criminal charges and a civil suit. Speaking with an experienced hit and run attorney could possibly lead to a positive outcome in your trial.
What Is the Penalty for Hit and Run in Colorado?
Generally speaking, hit-and-run penalties vary from state to state. State prosecutors may charge the offender with a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case like or serious bodily injury or more.
Misdemeanor charges typically revolve around personal property damages, while felony charges apply to cases with more significant property damage or bodily injury. It’s important to consider that both felony and misdemeanor convictions can result in losing your driver’s license, jail sentences, and hefty fines.
Leaving the scene of an accident could cause perpetrators to also face civil lawsuits and an increase in your auto insurance premiums. Even if that accident led to a minor hit of only property damage. Each person involved has several options to beat a hit and run charge.
How Do You Beat Hit and Run Case?
A hit-and-run charge is a serious offense and carries severe consequences. If you’ve been charged with a hit-and-run charge a criminal defense specialist may be of assistance. The following list could help you to overcome the hit-and-run charges you may be facing:
Prove You Were Not The Driver
Many states use your license plate number to prove that you were the perpetrator in a hit-and-run case. Tracking down the license plate results in a charge against the owner of the vehicle. However, if supposed fleeing hit and run drivers can demonstrate they were not operating the vehicle, the criminal charge would then go to the individual who was driving.
It’s important to note that some states provide limited financial liability to the vehicle owner regardless of who was driving in the accident. If you were not the driver involved in the accident, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney about your case.
No Proof of the Accident
If no property damage occurred and the supposed accident did not result in any damage or injuries to property or individuals, then no proof of any accident exists. Here are some examples of the evidence needed to prove a hit-and-run happened:
- Witness statements
- Dash cam footage
- Video proof from nearby CCTV cameras
- Photographic proof of damages
- Documentation of recent vehicle changes
- Medical documentation
- Evidence of missed work due to injuries from the accident
Scammers have used fraudulent practices of having an individual charged with a hit-and-run for an accident that did not occur. Luckily, if there’s no proof property damage occurred, then these types of cases can be beaten. If you’re unsure whether your conduct caused damage to cars, other personal property, buildings, and public infrastructure, contact a professional criminal attorney.
The Accident Was Not a Hit-And-Run
If you feel you’ve been falsely accused of fleeing the scene, you may beat your charge by getting an independent witness to corroborate your story. If you’ve hit an unattended vehicle, take a picture or video that proves you did not flee the accident scene with damages.
Responding to an Emergency
If you fled the scene of an accident because of an emergency, such as driving to the hospital, the charges against you could disappear. The judge’s discretion typically determines which circumstances warrant an emergency. It could help your claim to work with a proven criminal justice professional in your area that has a healthy rapport with the judges in your case.
Lack of Knowledge
Although it may seem strange, sometimes accidents occur without your awareness. It can be difficult to prove that you were unaware of the damage you caused, but this has been used as a successful defense against hit-and-run charges.
Admitting fault to a police officer or passing along your insurance information while accepting responsibility may have criminal legal consequences. Sometimes, the ideal course of action is to speak with an attorney to act as a legal proxy for you so you can avoid incriminating yourself.
Hit and Run FAQ
Knowing what to do when involved in an accident can be confusing and stressful. Our team of criminal law professionals help victims understand their rights, the legal implications, and the necessary steps to take following such an unfortunate event.
Can You Chase a Hit and Run Driver?
Criminal law specialists do not advise chasing a hit and run driver because of safety risks, potential legal issues, and escalating the situation. Instead, they advise remembering details of the other vehicles and driver, look for witnesses, report the incident to police, document the scene, and contact your insurance company.
Should I Contact My Insurance Company After an Accident?
Generally it’s advised to contact your insurer after an accident. However, some individuals choose to hire an attorney to contact their insurance company to avoid incrimination.
I Committed a Hit-And-Run. Will I Get Caught?
It’s hard to know exactly who’s watching when a crime is committed. If no witnesses or surveillance cameras were in the vicinity, most likely not. However, if someone IDs your car or license plate, you can be charged. Therefore, contact a skilled defense attorney when you’ve been involved in an accident.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Hit-And-Run in Colorado?
Colorado district attorneys have a statute of limitations to charge suspects with leaving the scene of a crash. The time limit depends on the specific charge:
- Class 3 felonies and vehicular homicide (CRS 18-3-1-6) have a 10-year statute
- Class 3 felony (fatal) are five years after the accident
- Class 4 felony (serious but non-fatal injury) are three years after the accident
- Traffic misdemeanors (all other cases) is one year after the accident
Can You Still Be Charged if You Were the Only Person Injured?
If you were injured in an accident, but no other person was, then a prosecutor generally won’t pursue a felony charge. The prosecutor could file a misdemeanor charge when the accident results in property damage.
What Is a Civil Compromise and Can It Help?
A civil compromise can lead to a dismissal of a hit and run charge. A civil compromise is where you compensate a hit and run victim for any losses, and in return, a judge or prosecutor dismisses the case.
A civil compromise is typically only available in misdemeanor hit and run cases. If you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of a hit and run accident, or have been involved in any type of car accident, consider speaking with law specialists with experience in both criminal and civil law. You don’t have to deal with your car accident all alone, legal professionals can help.
Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
Seek a consultation with a criminal attorney or a hit and run attorney when you are facing a criminal case involving a hit and run. Each hit and run accident, whether it be a misdemeanor hit and run charge, or one that resulted in serious injury, each case should be treated delicately.
A hit and run lawyer or law firm can help by:
- Ensuring that your criminal record remains clean of leaving the scene
- Preventing your driver’s license from being suspended or revoked
- Raising defenses and optimizing your criminal defense for success
- Negotiation with the prosecutor to reach a favorable plea arrangement
- Collaborating with the judge and prosecution to help you avoid jail time
If you’ve been involved in a Colorado hit-and-run and you believe these charges are preposterous because you stayed to render aid and more, then contact an adept hit and run at Weber Law. People charged with hit and run have been able to successfully get out of a charge with the help from a skilled defense lawyer.
Each felony crime is unique and if you’ve been involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury to others, speak with an attorney today.