Are Hit-And-Run Accidents A Crime?
When you think about being in a car accident, you probably think about injuries, liability, medical costs, and insurance coverage. And nine times out of ten, that’s all there is to worry about. But sometimes, auto accidents can lead to more serious consequences: criminal charges.
What Is A Hit-And-Run?
A hit-and-run is a crime that you can be charged with depending on what you do after an auto accident. The most common reasons for being charged with a hit-and-run crime are if you are involved in a car accident and then:
- Don’t stop at the scene of the accident
- Fail to provide identification
- Refuse to offer assistance to anyone injured as a result of the accident
It doesn’t matter if you hit another car, a pedestrian, or stationary property–failing to stop and provide identification and/or assistance is a crime. If you cause damage to someone else’s property, but the owner is not present at the time of the accident, you are required to leave a note with contact information and report the accident to the police.
What If The Accident Wasn’t My Fault?
Even if you are in an auto accident that isn’t your fault, you could still be charged with a hit-and-run crime.
For example, if you are going through an intersection and someone runs a red light, and you hit them, you still need to stop and offer assistance and provide identification. If you don’t, you can be charged with a hit-and-run, even though you weren’t the person who caused the accident.
Hit-and-run crimes can be charged either as misdemeanors or felonies. The seriousness of the accident will determine which types of charges are brought. An accident that results in death or serious injury will typically result in felony hit-and-run charges.
In some states, even a hit-and-run accident that causes significant property damage can mean a felony charge. Typically though, if no one was injured in the collision, the charge will be a misdemeanor.
In California, a felony hit-and-run conviction can result in up to four years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000. A misdemeanor conviction in that state carries the possibility of six months’ jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.
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