Definition and Aspects of Hit and Run:
Under the law, it is required that if a vehicle accident occurs where there is damage to other vehicles or property, the drivers must stop at the nearest safe location. If someone fails to do so and leaves the scene of the incident, he/she violates California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002). Hit and Run is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with jail time, expensive fines, and damage charges, as well as 2 points against the convicted person’s driving record.
Under California law, there are two types of Hit and Runs – misdemeanor and felony. A felony Hit and Run (VC 20001) is charged when there was injury or even death. If the accident only causes property damage, it is a Misdemeanor Hit and Run (VC 20002) charge.
To be convicted of California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant was driving and involved in a vehicle accident
- The accident resulted in damage to someone’s property
- The Defendant was aware of the damage, or a reasonable person would understand the accident caused damage
- The Defendant willfully left the scene of the accident or failed to provide his/her information
The information that is required by a driver to provide after an accident is personal identification, insurance, and title documents.
It is the driver’s duty to stop if an accident occurs, regardless of who caused the accident. If the Defendant was the one with the damaged property, he/she is still required to pull over and provide information.
California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002) also applies to personal property. If there is no other driver involved, the Defendant is required to pull over and leave his/her information at the scene of the crime in a written note.
Lastly, property damage under California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002) includes damage done to a pet.
Criminal Offenses Related to Hit and Run:
Similar or related offenses to California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002), Hit and Run:
- Driving without a License – California Vehicle Code 12500(a) (VC 12500(a))
- Felony Hit and Run – California Vehicle Code 20001 (VC 20001)
- Driving Under the Influence – California Vehicle Code 23152(a) (VC 23152(a))
Examples of Hit and Run:
A woman is backing out of a parking spot when she touches the back of her car to the front of another car. The woman stops and gets out of the vehicle to inspect the damage. She notes a small dent on both vehicles, but since she cannot locate the owner of the other car, she drives off. She is in violation of California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002) and could be charged with a misdemeanor Hit and Run.
However, in the same example, if the woman notices no damage on either of the vehicles, takes a photo of both cars for proof, and drives off, it is not considered a Hit and Run (VC 20002).
A man is driving home on a suburban street and takes the corner too tight. He knocks out a neighbor’s mailbox. There were no other vehicles involved in the accident, and no one was hurt. After noting the damaged mailbox, the man decides to drive away. Because he did not leave his information for the owner, he could be charged with a misdemeanor Hit and Run, California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002).
Defenses for Hit and Run:
As in one of the examples above, if no property damage occurs, the Defendant is not required to leave his/her information and can drive off. Hit and Run (VC 20002) involves damage to be present to either someone’s car or other property, and if there’s no loss on either side, it does not fall under this statute.
Hit and Runs often happen quickly, and it is possible to get a misidentification. If the Defendant was not the one committing the Hit and Run (VC 20002) and was falsely identified, an experienced defense attorney could aid in getting the charges dismissed.
Lastly, California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002) requires the Defendant to be aware of damages and willfully exit the scene. If the Defendant did not realize the Hit and Run occurred, he/she should not be charged. As an example, if the Defendant had the radio on high and could not hear a minor scrape, he/she did not willfully commit the crime. Note that this defense does not work with newer model vehicles, as they have sensors that make a loud noise when anything gets too close.
Consequences and Penalty for Hit and Run:
California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002) is a misdemeanor offense. The penalty is a possible jail sentence for up to six months and fines up to $1,000. This offense could also count against the Defendant’s point, and he/she could receive 2 points on his/her license.
Hit and Run, under California Vehicle Code 20002 (VC 20002), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and fines. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Hit and Run, you contact an expert 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 crime-related cases 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 Section 20002 (VC 20002), Hit and Run. Book a free consultation today.