There are many reasons why a driver might leave the scene of an accident, but fleeing a crash in San Luis Obispo can end up costing your freedom, license, and reputation, among other things. This is because, in California, anyone involved in an accident that resulted in bodily injury or property damage must stop to exchange insurance and license information with the other parties, regardless of who was at fault.
If you are facing charges for leaving the scene of a crash in the San Luis Obispo area, it is critical that you begin your search for a trustworthy defense attorney right away. Hit and run cases in California are time-sensitive, so in order for your lawyer to have maximum time to construct a strong defense plan, they will need as much time as you can provide. When you choose Aron Law Firm, a top-rated criminal defense lawyer will work with you throughout every step of the process.
The Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony Hit and Run in San Luis Obispo
Whether fear, anxiety, shock, or something else got the best of you and caused you to make that split-second decision to flee the scene of an accident does not matter. In California, anyone who flees the scene of a crash that resulted in bodily injury or damage to property can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Misdemeanor charges for hit and runs in San Luis Obispo are most often given to drivers who fled the scene of a crash that did not result in bodily injury but caused damage to property. The monetary value of the property damage does not matter.
Usually, the property damaged in misdemeanor hit and runs involve unoccupied vehicles or items such as fences, mailboxes, homes, and even pets. When any property suffers damage, the driver responsible must remain at the scene and provide their information to the property's owner. In situations where the property owner cannot be contacted, the at-fault driver can leave their information on the windshield or in a safe, visible spot where the owner can find it.
Penalties You Could Face for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in San Luis Obispo
Since California considers leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in damage to be a criminal violation, offenders can end up with life-changing consequences if they are convicted.
The maximum penalties for a misdemeanor hit and run in California include:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- A term of probation
- A fine of up to $1,000
Felonies are charged more severely than misdemeanors. Therefore, a conviction for a hit and run in San Luis Obispo could land you:
- Up to three years in prison
- A fine between $1,000 and $10,000
- Life-long status as a convicted felon
Other penalties drivers could face for a hit and run includes the suspension or revocation of their driver's license, completion of community service hours, and restitution payment to the victim(s).
Abandoning the scene of a motor vehicle accident could also cause you to be sued for the damages caused. Sometimes these suits can result in thousands or even millions of dollars in settlements. Although a civil action can be filed whether or not a guilty verdict was reached in your criminal case, the likelihood of a successful or high-paying settlement is much lower if you were found not guilty.
Looking For an Experienced Lawyer to Defend Your San Luis Obispo Hit and Run?
Fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in damage is a serious offense that requires expert legal counsel. At Aron Law Firm, we create personalized defense strategies for all types of criminal cases, from hit and runs to white-collar crimes, weapons violations, and everything in between.
We always do everything we can to fight for our clients' best interests both in and out of the courtroom because we know that your reputation and future are riding on the outcome of your case. Start an attorney-client relationship with a hit and run lawyer by calling Aron Law Firm today at (805) 618-1768 or completing our contact form.