Motorists owe others on the road a duty of care that includes stopping, exchanging pertinent information, and even rendering aid in the event of an accident. When a driver who is involved in a car accident allows his or her fight or flight response to take over and flees the scene (or leaves for any other reason), it is called a hit and run, and it can lead to a criminal charge in the State of Texas.
The violent impact of an accident can lead to shock that interferes with a motorist’s ability to make the right decision, and this can lead to a hit and run charge. If you are facing a charge related to fleeing the scene of an accident, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Waco criminal defense lawyer on your side.
The Charges Involved
Charges related to leaving the scene of an accident can range from a low-level misdemeanor all the way to a serious felony. Consider the following:
If the accident in question led only to damage of an occupied vehicle that does not exceed $200 (and not to any physical injuries), the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, and a conviction can mean up to $500 in fines.
If the accident in question led only to damage of an occupied vehicle that does not exceed $500 (and not to any physical injuries), the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, and a conviction can mean up to six months behind bars and fines of up to $2,000.
If the accident in question caused mild injuries, the charge can be a felony, and a conviction can mean from a year in county jail up to five years in state prison and to fines of up to $5,000.
If the accident in question caused serious injuries or death, the charge can be a third-degree felony, and a conviction can mean from two to 10 years in state prison.
Penalties can also include probation (generally for a first offense) and driver’s license suspension.
What Not to Do if You Are Charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, it likely means that the police sent you a letter informing you that you are wanted for questioning or that you received a criminal citation in the mail. The fact is that, even if you did leave the scene of an accident, you have the right to a robust defense, and extenuating circumstances could play a critical and dramatic role in the outcome of your case. Two things that you should not do, however, in response to this charge or interview request include:
Talking to the police without an experienced criminal defense lawyer with you
Notifying your insurance provider about the accident before discussing the matter with an experienced criminal defense lawyer