Hit & Run With Property Damage

Orange County Hit & Run lawyer Hit and run with property damage is a misdemeanor crime in California. If you are convicted of Hit & Run, you may be sentenced to jail for up to 6 months and a fine of $1,000. There are very specific requirements that the prosecution must prove to convict you of this crime, which can be helpful to your defense if you are charged. Hit & Run with Property Damage requires you to actually know you were in an accident that caused some type of damage to someone else’s property. You must also willfully fail to inform the owner of the damaged property. You must also inform the owner of the property damage even if you were not at fault for the accident. Doing so would cover you from being charged with a misdemeanor hit and run and it may instead become a civil case. There are a number of common defenses used in a Hit & Run charge. The best defense available will depend on the specific facts of your case.

Punishment

Hit & Run with Property Damage is a misdemeanor in California. This means being convicted of hit & run can result in a misdemeanor on your criminal record, up to 6 months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. A conviction can also result in your driver’s license being suspended by the DMV. A conviction may require you to pay back any restitution from the damages that occurred if you were at fault.

Elements

The defendant is charged with failing to perform a legal duty following a vehicle accident that caused property damage in violation of Vehicle Code section 20002. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
  2. The accident caused damage to someone else’s property;
  3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged]; AND
  4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:
    1. To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; OR
    2. To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

The driver of a vehicle may provide the required information in one of two ways:

  1. The driver may locate the owner or person in control of the damaged property and give that person the information directly. On request, the driver must also show that person his or her driver’s license and the vehicle registration; OR
  2. The driver may leave the required information in a written note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other damaged property. The driver must then also, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. The duty to stop immediately means that the driver must stop his or her vehicle as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances. The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable. You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant failed to perform at least one of the required duties. You must all agree on which duty the defendant failed to perform. [To be involved in a vehicle accident means to be connected with the accident in a natural or logical manner. It is not necessary for the driver’s vehicle to collide with another vehicle or person.] [When providing his or her name and address, the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident.] [The property damaged may include any vehicle other than the one allegedly driven by the defendant.] [An accident causes property damage if the property damage is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the accident and the damage would not have happened without the accident. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.] [There may be more than one cause of property damage. An accident causes property damage only if it is a substantial factor in causing the damage. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the property damage.] [If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious or disabled so that (he/she) was not capable of performing the duties required by law, then (he/she) did not have to perform those duties at that time. [However, (he/she) was required to do so as soon as reasonably possible.]] If you’re facing a Hit & Run charge, consult with an experienced Orange County Hit & Run lawyer. At the Law Offices Offices of Nam Q. Doan | OC Legal Defense, I can represent you and fight the charges. Call today at (714) 248-DOAN (3626).