Hit and Run
I hit a vehicle and did not stop at the scene of an accident. What happens next?
Law enforcement investigators will gather information from any witnesses present at or near the scene of the accident. It is probable that one or more persons were able to capture your license plate, particularly given the prevalence of cell phone cameras. There may be street cameras that captured footage of your vehicle and your image. Given the high amount of public and private surveillance these days, it is highly probable you will be identified.
Once you are identified, police officers, detectives, investigators or other law enforcement will attempt to contact you and obtain more information from you. They will try to obtain incriminating information, such as a confession or other acknowledgment or your responsibility or guilty.
Then, it is only a matter of time before you are arrested, or, at a minimum, cited to appear in court to answer to the charges.
What does the prosecutor have to show to prove my guilt?
The prosecutor must show that:
- You were involved in a car accident while you were driving;
- the accident caused damage to someone else’s property;
- you knew that you had been involved in a car accident that caused property damage, or that you knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property damage occurred;
- you willfully failed to immediately stop at the scene of the accident, or that failed to immediately provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with your name, current address and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle you were driving (yourself or a third party)..
If you are being charged with “hit-and-run with injury,” the prosecutor must further prove that the accident caused the death of, or permanent, serious injury to another, and that you failed to provide reasonable assistance to the person(s) you injured in the accident.
What can your attorneys do to defend me from these charges?
Robert Ernenwein, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, will carefully scrutinize the police reports, witness statements and other discovery. He will verify whether you were the actual party involved in the accident.
Perhaps you did not know from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property damage occurred. Our review of the evidence against you may yield information that the traffic circumstances were such that you reasonably did not believe an accident had happened.
If you were not aware of the accident and it was not reasonable that you should have been aware, we can argue that the case is not hit and run. If you hit a vehicle near your home, did not immediately stop, but rather, parked your car at your house and walked back to the scene of the accident, we may be able to convince the prosecutor that you did not actually flee the scene of the accident.
There may also be issues related to whether it was safe for you to stop at the scene of the accident, particularly if the person whose vehicle you hit was behaving violently, threateningly or menacingly. Although it’s unclear whether this would thwart a prosecution, it could help us show that your failure to stop was not willful, particularly if you contacted law enforcement and reported the incident.
We will investigate to see whether you were the victim of insurance fraud or some other scheme perpetrated by the alleged victim to make it look as if you were involved in the accident. We will also verify whether the accident actually caused damage to the other person’s property.
We have also been able to resolve many of these cases informally through what is known as a “Civil Compromise.” We will contact the victim and work out an arrangement whereby restitution can be paid directly to the victim to satisfy the claim. Through negotiation with the prosecutor, the charge can be dismissed in recognition that the victim was compensated.
There are a host of issues we can evaluate based on our analysis of the police reports, witness statements and other evidence on file. Based on our findings, we may be able to successfully thwart a criminal prosecution in court via negotiation, prevail in trial, or otherwise weaken the case against you.
Call us immediately at 310-375-5858 for your free consultation.