Being accused of a hit-and-run in California is no laughing matter. If you’re convicted, you face severe legal consequences.
The first thing you need to know is that the circumstances surrounding the incident determine whether you’re charged with misdemeanor hit and run or if you’ll face felony charges. The main thing that determines if you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony is whether the people involved with the hit-and-run were hurt. If serious injuries were incurred during the incident, you’ll be charged with a felony. If the only thing that was damaged was some property, you’d be charged with a misdemeanor.
The first thing to keep in mind is that while there was a time when you stood a chance of getting away with a hit-and-run accident, the odds of you escaping repercussions these days are slim. Not only are the police extremely good at investigating these types of issues, but the sheer number of people who have security cameras, dashboard cams, and are always recording with their cell phones means it’s likely that some not only have footage of the accident but also likely has at least one good recording of your license plate which is all the police need to track you down.
When it comes to hit-and-run accidents, it’s always in your best interest to turn yourself in rather than waiting for the police to show up at your front door.
Most judges have very little tolerance for hit-and-run cases. It’s not uncommon for a judge to sentence the defendant to the longest sentence, which in misdemeanor cases is six months in a county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. You will also be ordered to pay restitution and have two points added to your driving record. You’ll also be ticketed for whatever incident led to the accident.
In felony hit-and-run cases, the maximum sentence is up to four years in a state prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
Criminal charges will likely be just one of the headaches you face after a hit-and-run accident. In many cases the victim decides to pursue a civil case, during which they can pursue both actual and punitive damages. The more severe the injuries the victim sustained or, the more extensive the property damage is, the more likely it is that the victim will file a civil lawsuit that accuses you of being a hit-and-run driver.