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Defenses to a Charge of Hit and Run


If you have been involved in an accident and are being investigated or have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident (violation of California Vehicle Code 20002) you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced hit and run attorney. California Vehicle Code 20002 governs hit and run accidents, which involved damage to property. The information contained below regarding legal defenses is also fully applicable to California Vehicle Code 20003, which involves a hit and run that results injury. The lawyers at Hoffman & Associates, with over 30 years of experience can help protect your legal rights and avoid possible criminal charges or convictions.

There are a number of possible legal defenses to protect these rights. The most significant defense is that you were not driving a vehicle that was involved in a hit and run accident. For example, your car had been stolen, you had reported it stolen, and the hit and run accident occurred sometime during this period where the vehicle was not in your possession. Therefore, if you can prove that it was impossible for you to have been driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, there is a complete defense available to you being found guilty of a hit and run. The skillful hit and run defense attorneys at the law offices at Hoffman & Associates will carefully assist you by reviewing all possible evidence both positive and negative to determine whether this defense is viable in your case.

Another defense would be that you exchanged your information as required by California Vehicle Code 20002. California Vehicle Code 20002 states that if you were involved in an accident that resulted in damage you have to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of your name and address. If the other vehicle owner or driver is present you should provide them also with your drivers license and vehicle registration. If the driver of the damaged vehicle is not present you should leave a written note on the damaged property, which includes your name and address and then you should call the police department and make an accident report. Therefore if you were involved in an accident but then exchanged the required information, you have satisfied the legal regal requirements of the law and would not be guilty of a hit and run.

Furthermore, another complete defense to being found guilty of a hit and run is that there was no damage caused to another person’s property. California Vehicle Code 20002 requires that there be damage for there to be a hit and run. Clients frequently argue that the accident was not their fault, this vehicle code section makes fault irrelevant to a drivers legal responsibility to exchange information with the other party after an accident.

Additionally, even if you have left the scene of an accident where there is damage without exchanging information there is still a possibility through the legal procedure of civil compromise of keeping your case from being filed as a criminal case and facing the potential of being convicted of this charge. A civil compromise involves contacting the damaged party and trying to reach a settlement which reimburses them for all of the damage that has been caused like, property damage, rental car expenses, as well as any medical bills or loss of earnings. If a civil compromise has been signed it notifies the criminal court that the victim has been fully reimbursed and that the victim chooses to release the person who caused the damages from any further liability. Once a civil compromise has been signed and presented to the criminal judge, the criminal court case is often dismissed.

The experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Hoffman & Associates explore all possible legal defenses for each client for ways to avoid criminal charges being filed, or if they have been filed to avoid a criminal conviction. Even if a charge has been filed against you our firm has a good record of successfully civilly compromising cases. The benefit of having a case civilly compromised is that it avoids probation, fines, and other possible consequences imposed by the court if somebody is convicted.

California Vehicle Code 20002:

  1. The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do either of the following:
    1. Locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle involved and, upon locating the driver of any other vehicle involved or the owner or person in charge of any damaged property, upon being requested, present his or her driver's license, and vehicle registration, to the other driver, property owner, or person in charge of that property. The information presented shall include the current residence address of the driver and of the registered owner. If the registered owner of an involved vehicle is present at the scene, he or she shall also, upon request, present his or her driver's license information, if available, or other valid identification to the other involved parties.
    2. Leave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property damaged a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle involved and a statement of the circumstances thereof and shall without unnecessary delay notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred or, if the collision occurred in unincorporated territory, the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol.
  2. Any person who parks a vehicle which, prior to the vehicle again being driven, becomes a runaway vehicle and is involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, attended or unattended, shall comply with the requirements of this section relating to notification and reporting and shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable to the penalties of this section for failure to comply with the requirements.
  3. Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

The courtroom attorneys at Hoffman & Associates, who have over 30 years of experience, can honestly evaluate the specific facts of your case and explore all of the possible defenses available. It is vitally important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after such an accident to protect all of your legal rights and to maintain a good record.