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Contesting a Hit and Run Criminal Charge

Posted on in Traffic Offenses

Contesting a Hit and Run Criminal ChargeAny person involved in a vehicle accident that results in property damage or personal injury has a duty to remain at the scene and report the incident. Police must arrive at the scene to document the incident, and parties involved must exchange contact and insurance information. Leaving the site of an accident prematurely – commonly known as hit and run – is a criminal offense. The charge can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances:

  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving only property damage is a class A misdemeanor;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident in which a person was injured is a class 4 felony if the offender still reports the accident within a half hour;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident in which a person was injured and not reporting it within a half hour is a class 2 felony; and
  • Leaving the scene of an accident in which a person died is a class 1 felony.

It can be difficult to defend against a hit and run charge because there are few circumstances in which it is appropriate to leave the scene of an accident. There are a couple of ways to successfully argue against the charge:

  1. Mistaken Identity: The person accused may be uninvolved in the incident. Witnesses can make mistakes when identifying a vehicle. Someone other than the owner of the vehicle may have been driving it.
  2. Moving to Safety: Drivers involved in an accident must try to move their vehicle out of the path of oncoming traffic. If the driver does this while the police officer is at the scene, the officer may mistakenly believe that the driver was trying to flee.
  3. Not Aware: Though difficult to prove, a driver may not have known that he or she struck a vehicle and injured a person. The defense will need to show whether it was reasonable for the driver to have been unaware of the accident.
  4. Emergency Situations: A driver in a rush to transport someone to the hospital may cause an accident. A court may excuse someone leaving an accident site due to a medical emergency, as long as that person made a reasonable effort to report the accident later.
  5. Involuntary Intoxication: Being under the influence of an intoxicating substance is not a defense against leaving the scene of an accident. However, someone who was drugged against his or her will may not be responsible for his or her decisions.

Figuring Out Your Defense 

Accurately documenting the circumstances of your alleged hit and run incident will help your attorney determine your defense strategy. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can present why your charge of leaving the scene of an accident is unfounded. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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