A hit and run offense is a serious criminal offense under Florida law. The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident include huge fines, jail time, license suspension and a dramatic increase in your car insurance payments. Usually, individuals panic after an accident. Odds are the individual had no intention of breaking the law by leaving the scene of the accident.
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Brevard County or the surrounding area, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. A Melbourne criminal law defense attorney will be able to explain your legal rights and come up with defenses to the allegations.
At The Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC, we see all types of traffic related cases. The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident depend greatly on if there was property damage or personal injuries. Contact our office at (321) 253-3447 if you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident. One of our attorneys can gather all of the facts and conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the accident in order to prepare a defense to the hit and run allegation.
Florida law requires individuals to remain at the scene of accidents where there is damage to the vehicles, property damage or personal injuries. In Section 316.061 of the Florida statutes it elaborates on the duties that an individual must carry out at the scene of an accident.
A person must remain at the scene of the accident until they comply with the requirements to exchange information and render aid contained in Section 316.062. If there is a car accident resulting in injury, death or property damage, the individuals involved in the accident must provide the following information:
It is also customary to exchange insurance information as well, but the exchange of insurance information is not a requirement under Florida law. An individual should be able to supply the above information upon request to police officers or other individuals involved in the accident.
In addition to exchanging information, an individual is required to give reasonable assistance to injured individuals. This assistance can include carrying the individual to a hospital for medical treatment or arranging for the person to get the appropriate medical treatment. Calling an ambulance for injured individuals usually fulfills the obligation to render aid.
In the event that no one at the accident scene can exchange information and no police officers report to the accident scene, it is still the person’s duty to contact law enforcement and make a report. Making the report to law enforcement will not violate the privilege against self-incrimination. However, it is wise to consult with a Melbourne criminal defense attorney before talking to the police especially if the accident resulted in a death or serious bodily injury.
In addition to the duty to exchange information and giving aid to injured parties, an individual must also not block traffic more than necessary. If a damaged vehicle is blocking traffic, the individual must try to move the vehicle so that it does not obstruct the regular flow of traffic. If an individual cannot reasonably move the vehicles, employees designated by the Department of Transportation and law enforcement can undertake to move the vehicles.
If an individual does not comply with the duty exchange information and there is no personal injury or property damage, the offense is a noncriminal traffic violation.
Leaving the scene of an accident where there is property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
If there is no property damage or personal injury, then leaving the scene of an accident can be a misdemeanor charge. However, if there is personal injury, leaving the scene of an accident can rise to a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in a Florida state prison.
According to Section 316.027, if a person leaves the scene of an accident where a death occurred, then leaving the scene of an accident is elevated to a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in a Florida State prison.
The burden of proof falls on the prosecution to show that an individual left the scene of the accident. The elements that the prosecution needs to prove are:
One of the most common defenses for leaving the scene of the accident is that the individual was trying to keep their vehicle from obstructing traffic. It is permissible to move your vehicle a safe distance to comply with the statute. Also, it is within your right to contact a Melbourne criminal defense attorney before talk to law enforcement about the accident.
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, you need to hire a lawyer right away to discuss the particular facts of your case.
The Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC represents clients who are charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Brevard County, Melbourne, Cape Canaveral and the surrounding areas. Depending on the circumstances of your case, leaving the scene of an accident can be a minor traffic violation or it can result in extensive felony penalties. You need to contact The Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC so that a Melbourne criminal traffic lawyer can evaluate your case. Call (321) 253-3447 today.