Fleeing the Scene of an Accident

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”


Rules are in place to ensure that drivers are careful on the road. The law requires drivers to have liability insurance to cover any damages and injuries that occur due to their negligence in an accident. Although most accidents are minor, some are more serious and result in severe injuries. Those who are involved in accidents are required to remain on the scene. If you leave the scene of an accident, you may face criminal charges. If you face criminal charges for fleeing the scene of an accident, you may want to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.


burning-ambulance-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Criminal-hit-and-run-lawyer-300x199What are the Laws Regarding Accidents?


Drivers involved in any type of accident must remain on the scene until released by a member of law enforcement. If you do not stay at the scene, the accident may be considered a hit-and-run. North Carolina law states that drivers have a duty to stop at the scene if they know or should have reasonably known that the vehicle they were operating was involved in an accident that caused injury or death to another. A driver must immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene of the accident until the completion of the investigation when police authorities allow you to leave. This includes the removal of your vehicle.


There are only a few acceptable reasons why a driver may leave the accident scene. You may be permitted to leave the scene in order to seek law enforcement assistance, to call for medical assistance or to get medical treatment, or to prevent injuries. If the driver must leave, for example to contact the police, they must return to the scene in a reasonable period of time. Law enforcement may determine that a driver fled the scene and this could result in criminal charges.


Charges and Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident


A driver who flees from an accident scene may be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a Class 1 misdemeanor when the driver leaves the scene of an accident with property damage. This is often called a simple hit-and-run. A hit-and-run that causes bodily injury may be charged as a Class H felony. A hit-and-run that results in serious bodily injury or death may be charged as a Class F felony.  Serious bodily injury is an injury with a substantial risk of death, or when the injury results in disfigurement or pain or in an extended hospitalization.


The penalties for a criminal conviction of fleeing the scene of an accident vary based on the charges. Misdemeanor charges could result in a sentence of up to 120 days in jail and fines. A felony conviction may result in a jail sentence of up to 41 months in jail, fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license.


If you are charged with hit-and-run, you will want to put forth a vigorous defense. You must prove that there was an acceptable reason for leaving the scene of an accident. An experienced criminal defense attorney will review the details of your case and help you defend the charges. Please contact us today to 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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