San Diego Hit & Run Lawyer
Fight Your Charges with JD Law by Your Side
A charge of leaving the scene of an accident is commonly referred to as a "hit and run." Often, people who are charged with hit-and-run are completely unaware they even hit another vehicle. If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in the San Diego area, you need an experienced legal professional to handle your claim. JD Law can help.
There is no greater accolade or measure of expertise in the practice of law than being certified as a specialist. Because attorney James N. Dicks is a board-certified criminal law specialist, you can trust our firm to handle your case with the utmost professionalism. See for yourself what our clients have said by reading our reviews.
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What Counts as a Hit-and-Run in California?
In California, any time someone flees the scene of a car accident, he can be charged with hit-and-run. This means that you could be charged with hit-and-run even when another driver is at fault. Likewise, you can be arrested for leaving an accident where very little damage occurred.
A lawyer can help you build a defense for any hit-and-run, including:
- Accidents caused by another driver
- Collisions involving damage to another person's property
- Instances where your vehicle did not make physical contact with another
- Cases where it was not clear who was at fault
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Hit & Run
The penalties for hit-and-run can vary depending upon whether or not the accident involved serious injury, property damage, or both. A misdemeanor hit-and-run will involve minimal property damage and can carry a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and as much as a $10,000 fine. A felony hit-and-run, on the other hand, will involve permanent bodily injury to or death of another. This offense can carry up to 4 years of prison time and a $10,000 fine.
DUI Hit-and-Run Charges
A DUI hit-and-run case will involve several offenses. Typically, there will at least be a DUI charge, a hit-and-run charge, a possible vehicular manslaughter charge, and other charges for reckless driving or causing bodily injury. The penalties for these charges will vary in severity depending on your history of drunk driving, whether or not other people were hurt, and how badly.
A hit-and-run with DUI causing bodily injury is a felony charge, classified as a violent crime. Even for a first offense, if found guilty you could face up to 4 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. For multiple offenses, the sentences become even harsher.
In San Diego, a vehicular manslaughter charge can be applied when a driver negligently operates his vehicle and that negligence results in a person’s death. Negligent behavior can include distracted driving, speeding, or driving while under the influence. If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter in addition to a hit-and-run, you will face compounded penalties if you are convicted.
The California Penal Code defines three different types of vehicular manslaughter:
- Vehicular manslaughter not involving alcohol or drugs. A person may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if he drove in an illegal manner, or drove lawfully but in a reckless manner and it resulted in the death of another person. This charge is a wobbler in San Diego, meaning that prosecutors have the discretion to charge it as a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Vehicular manslaughter involving alcohol or drugs. A vehicular manslaughter charge involving drugs or alcohol is a much more serious crime, particularly if you left the scene of the accident. In these instances, the prosecution must prove that you were drunk at the time of the accident, and that you engaged in negligent behavior in addition to the DUI to cause the death of another person.
- Gross vehicular manslaughter. If the prosecution believes that you acted in a very reckless manner, they may decide to charge you with gross vehicular manslaughter. If convicted, your driver’s license will be suspended and you will face 4 to 10 years in state prison.
If you struck a pedestrian and fled the scene, and the pedestrian later died, San Diego prosecutors often decide to charge it as a felony. Our hit-and-run defense attorneys at JD Law can help you look for ways to defeat or mitigate the charges.
Representing the Criminally Accused Since 1990
If you have been charged with hit-and-run and are seeking competent legal counsel to defend you in a court of law, our San Diego criminal defense attorneys can help. Please call our offices today to arrange a free initial consultation where we can sift through whatever information you have and discuss in detail the events leading up to you being charged. We will answer your questions and render an opinion on the best course of action to successfully defend you. Contact us now.
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