If you are involved in an accident in North Carolina, you must remain at the scene. If you leave the scene, it is considered a crime, and you could be charged with hit and run. Hit-and-run charges are serious, and you could face penalties that include jail time and more if you are convicted. If you are charged with hit-and-run, you will want to vigorously defend yourself to avoid conviction and a criminal record. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will help you achieve a favorable outcome in the case.
What is a Hit-and-Run?
Hit-and-run is a common term that most people know. Hit-and-run refers to leaving the scene of an accident. The law is clear that a driver must stop and remain at the scene when they are involved in an accident. North Carolina General Statutes 20-166 require drivers to remain with the vehicle at the scene until the police complete an investigation. Drivers may not leave the scene until the police allow them to depart. If the location of your vehicle at the accident is dangerous and could put you or other drivers at risk, you are allowed to move the vehicle.
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”
What You Must Do After an Accident
After an accident, you must remain at the location and stay with your vehicle. You are required to stop immediately and wait until the police release you from the scene. You must exchange information with the other driver and seek medical treatment for injuries. There are limited circumstances in which you may leave the scene.
You may leave to call the police if that is the only way to contact them. You are allowed to leave the scene to get urgent medical care or to prevent additional injuries. If you do leave the immediate scene, you are required to return to the scene within a reasonable amount of time. If you do not return, you will likely be charged with hit-and-run.
A hit-and-run may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case. Usually, when the hit and run results in only minor injuries or damages, the charges could be a Class 1 misdemeanor. If found guilty, you could face up to 120 days in jail along with fines and other punishments such as probation and community service. A hit-and-run may be charged as a felony if the accident caused serious injuries or death. Felony hit-and-run charges may be punishable with up to 41 months in jail, fines, and more, including the suspension of your driving privileges. Serious injuries are those that are life-threatening, those that cause a lengthy hospital stay, and those that result in disfigurement.
Defending Against Hit-and-Run Charges
Hit-and-run charges are criminal charges, and therefore you will have a criminal record if you are found guilty. Your attorney will help to reduce or eliminate charges and defend the charges in court. There are some ways to defend against these serious charges. If you were unaware that you were involved in an accident or if you didn’t think the accident resulted in damages, your attorney may present these as your defense. You may have left the accident scene to obtain medical care or seek help. You may have been falsely accused, or it could be a case of mistaken identity. Keep in mind that the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you were charged with hit-and-run, you will want to speak to a qualified criminal attorney as soon as possible. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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