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Hit & Run Driving Law & Defense

VC 20001 – 20002(a)

Information regarding the crimes of hit and run with property damage and hit and run with injury are found at California Vehicle Code sections 20001 & 20002.

Hit and Run Laws

Note: Hit and run with injury is usually charged under VC 20001, whereas hit and run with property damage is charged under VC 20002. Both crimes are discussed in this article.

 

VC 20001 Law: To prove that the defendant is guilty of VC 20001, hit and run with injury, the prosecutor must prove:

  • The defendant was driving a vehicle that was involved in an accident

  • The accident caused serious injury or death

  • The defendant knew, or should have known from the nature of the accident that the accident likely caused injury to another person

  • The defendant failed to immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident, provide reasonable assistance to persons injured and provide identifying information.

To immediately stop means to stop the vehicle as soon as reasonably safe to do so under the circumstances. For example, if an accident happens on the freeway, it might reasonable under the circumstances to continue to drive to the next off ramp (as opposed to remaining on the dangerous highway).

To provide reasonable assistance means to do all reasonable things under the circumstances to provide medical assistance if any injured person is not already being assisted. This include providing transportation for any victim if that is reasonable under the circumstances.

Note:  For hit and run cases it does not matter who caused the accident. Each driver has a duty to assist other drivers involved in an accident (if reasonably possible under the circumstances).

VC 20002 Law: To prove that the defendant is guilty of VC 20002, hit and run with property damage, the prosecutor must prove:

  • The defendant was driving a vehicle that was involved in a vehicle accident

  • The accident caused damage to someone else's property

  • The defendant knew, or probably knew, that the accident caused property damage

  • Defendant willfully failed to either immediately stop at the scene of the accident, or contact police

In hit and run with property damage cases, the driver may provide the required information by finding the owner and giving that person the information directly, or by leaving the information in a written note in a conspicuous place on the damaged vehicle or property. The driver must then notify the police department of that city where the accident happened (VC 20002(a)).

VC 20001 & 20002 Penalties

VC 20002(a): Hit and run with property damage is charged as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of VC 20002(a), the defendant count face up to 180 days in the county jail.

VC 20001(b)(1): Hit and run with injury may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If convicted of felony VC 2000, the defendant could face up to three years in jail. If convicted of misdemeanor VC 20001, the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.

VC 20001(b)(2): hit and run causing serious bodily injury or death is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. When VC 20001(b)(1) is charged as a felony the defendant could face up to four years in jail. When VC 20001(b)(1) is charged as a misdemeanor , the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.

 

VC 20002(b) Runaway vehicle causing property damage is a misdemeanor crime that carries up to a 180 day county jail sentence.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period or supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are available in some hit and run cases depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. Probation sentences come with terms of probation with can include some form of community service, work release or house arrest.

Note: Jail sentences ordered after a conviction for VC 20001 or VC 20002 cases are served in a local county jail as opposed to a state prison. Also, jail sentences and work release sentences related to hit and run cases are subject to a 50% reduction for good behavior (day for day credit).

In addition to any jail or prison sentencing, criminal convictions for hit and run can lead to other severe consequences such as: Immigration consequences (non-U.S. citizens), professional licensing consequences, probation, fines, lawsuits, suspension of driver's license, and firearm prohibition (firearm prohibition is ordered with any felony conviction).

Defenses

Common defenses to hit and run charges include: Mistake of fact (did not reasonably know that property or injury occurred to another person), statute of limitations, insufficient evidence to prove who was driving the vehicle, alibi, coerced confession, and more.

 

If you have been charged with hit and run involving injury or property damage, or vehicle code 20001 or 20002, contact our experienced and successful criminal defense lawyers to learn your rights and options without delay. Call today!

909-913-3138​

Criminal Defense Lawyers

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