If you have been involved in an accident and are being investigated or have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident (violation of California Vehicle Code 20002), you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced Hit and Run attorney. California Vehicle Code 20002 governs hit and run accidents, which involves damage to property. The information below regarding legal defenses is also fully applicable to California Vehicle Code 20003, which involves a hit and run that results in injury.
There are a number of possible legal defenses to protect these rights. The most significant defense is that you were not driving a vehicle that was involved in a hit and run accident. For example, your car had been stolen, you had reported it stolen, and the hit and run accident occurred sometime during this period where the vehicle was not in your possession. Therefore, if you can prove that it was impossible for you to have been driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, there is a complete defense available to you being found guilty of a hit and run.
Furthermore, another complete defense to being found guilty of a hit and run is that there was no damage caused to another person’s property. California Vehicle Code 20002 requires that there be damage for there to be a hit and run. Clients frequently argue that the accident was not their fault. This vehicle code section makes fault irrelevant to a driver’s legal responsibility to exchange information with the other party after an accident.
Additionally, even if you have left the scene of an accident where there is damage without exchanging information, there is still a possibility through the legal procedure of civil compromise of keeping your case from being filed as a criminal case and facing the potential of being convicted of this charge. A civil compromise involves contacting the damaged party and trying to reach a settlement which reimburses them for all of the damage that has been caused, like property damage, rental car expenses, as well as any medical bills or loss of earnings. If a civil compromise has been signed, it notifies the criminal court that the victim has been fully reimbursed and that the victim chooses to release the person who caused the damages from any further liability. Once a civil compromise has been signed and presented to the criminal judge, the criminal court case is often dismissed.