If you ever get involved in an accident, the best course of action is to stay there, exchange information, and call the police. Otherwise, you can be accused of and charged with fleeing the scene of an accident. In this article, Rahul Balaram, Sonoma County defense attorney shares what to do if you have been charged with fleeing an accident scene.
Even if you think that there is hardly any damage, the other party might think differently and report you to the authorities, and so leaving an accident can result in expensive fines and may even result in you being arrested and facing jail time. In fact, it may be as much as $5000 in fines and five years in jail.
So, what should you do if you do leave the scene of an accident and are charged?
1. Gather Proof That You Didn’t
If you did not get the other party’s information, they may claim that you left the scene without properly exchanging info and involving the police, which can result in being charged for fleeing.
Of course, the first step you should take in this scenario is to prove your innocence, which can help prevent you from being charged in the first place, but if you’ve already been charged, this can help if you decide to appeal.
If you have a dashcam, provide it as evidence in court. Having a dashcam has saved hundreds of people from lawsuits and charges, as it is a reliable and useful tool to have on the road. Otherwise, ask for security camera footage if it occurred within sight of a camera. If no cameras were around, find witnesses to testify on your behalf.
2. Do Your Research
There are different levels of severity in a hit and run, which heavily affect your case.
If no damage occurred, it can be declared a Class A misdemeanor, but if death was involved, you may face around $25,000 in fees and five years in prison.
It’s important to understand your case and where it stands, and in order to do that, you have to do research.
3. Work with the Police
The best thing you can do after a hit and run is to contact the police and work with them. Be polite with them and work towards a ruling in your favor.
While you can choose to not tell them anything, it’s still better to tell the truth than to have a warrant out for your arrest, which can substantially hurt your case.
4. Remain Silent
You have the right to remain silent, which means you do not have to tell the police everything.
However, you should avoid talking about your case to others, as well. Unless they are your lawyer, anything you tell a person can and will be used in court if it is incriminating.
5. Call a Lawyer
Lastly, the best defense you can have in court is a good lawyer. Law and legal matters are complicated; they’re usually made to be that way, which is why you need an expert to work around it.
They will not only be able to guide you through the process, but they know how these cases typically proceed and know what laws to use in your favor.