Definition and Aspects of a Felony Hit and Run:
If a person is involved in a vehicle accident resulting in injury to someone other himself/herself, he/she should immediately pull over at the nearest safe location. Under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), anyone involved in a collision is required to stop and exchange identification and vehicle information or provide aid if necessary. Failing to stop is against the law. Under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), a hit and run involving severe injury or even death is a misdemeanor or potentially felony-level offense, punishable with harsh fines and time spent in county jail.
To be convicted of California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant was driving and involved in a vehicle accident
- The accident caused injury or the death of another
- The Defendant was aware of the accident and that it had caused injury or possibly death in another person
- The Defendant knowingly failed to perform one or more of the below duties:
- Stopping at the scene of the incident or at the nearest safe locations
- Giving reasonable aid to the injured
- Giving the other involved party or a police officer any of the below information
- The Defendant’s name and current address, as well as the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if it’s not the Defendant
- The Defendant’s drivers license information
- The registration number of the vehicle involved
Stopping at the scene of the accident refers to the nearest safe location where it’s possible for both parties to safely pull over.
Additionally, if another person is injured in the accident, the Defendant is liable to provide immediate aid. This could involve calling an ambulance, following the instructions of the 911 operator on the phone, or simply transporting the injured party to the nearest health facility.
Lastly, any driver involved in an incident is responsible for performing the above listed points regardless of how or when the accident occurred.
Examples of Hit and Run:
A woman is driving home after a long workday, and she fails to notice a stop sign. She drives into the intersection, colliding with another vehicle that spins out and hits a nearby railing. In the heat of the moment, the woman drives away, fearing that she cannot afford the damages caused in the incident that was her fault. Under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), she could be charged with a felony hit and run, as a reasonable person would conclude that the other party is injured and the woman failed to pull over and provide aid or her identification information.
A man is trying to make a right turn in his vehicle, and while he’s looking out for oncoming traffic, he fails to notice the pedestrian crossing the street. He hits the pedestrian, who clearly suffers injuries. The man gets scared, and instead of pulling over to assist, he speeds off. His actions are in violation of California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), and he could be charged with a felony hit and run.
Criminal Offenses Related to Hit and Run:
Similar or related offenses to California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), Hit and Run:
- Misdemeanor Hit and Run – California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002)
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs – California Vehicle Code 23152(a) (VC 23152(a))
- Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 or Higher – California Vehicle Code 23152(b) (VC 23152(b))
- Driving Under the Influence Causing Injury – California Vehicle Code 23153 (VC 23153)
- Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – California Penal Code 191.5(a) (PC 191.5(a))
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – California Penal Code 191.5(b) (PC 191.5(b))
Defenses to Hit and Run:
A viable defense to a Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001) is the possibility of duress involving the Defendant after the hit and run. If the Defendant wanted to pull over and stop, however, he/she had a reason to fear for his/her safety, such as the appearance of an angry mob, the Defendant would most likely be charged with a lesser crime than a felony hit and run, under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001).
Additionally, one of the qualifiers for a hit and run is the awareness of the incident. If the Defendant wasn’t aware that there was a collision with another vehicle and drove off, it would not be an offense against California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001).
Consequences and Penalty for Hit and Run:
Despite California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001) often being referred to as a felony hit and run, it is actually a ‘wobbler’ offense. Wobbler refers to any crime that could either be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor, depending on the specifics of the incident.
If California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001) is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment is a jail sentence of up to one year or a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. In some cases, a Judge might order probation instead of jail time.
However, if a Defendant is charged with a felony hit and run under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), he/she would be responsible for fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and a jail sentence of up to four years.
Felony Hit and Run, under California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), is a wobbler offense that can result in jail time and severe fines. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with a hit and run, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of vehicle law and driving charges and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001), Felony Hit and Run. Book a free consultation today.