Imagine you’re driving home from a friend’s house one night and suddenly you hear a loud crash. You stop and look around to see that you’ve hit a parked car. In a panic, you drive away, hoping to avoid any consequences. However, a few days later, the police show up at your door, and you’re arrested for hit and run. This is just one example of how a driver might experience a hit-and-run in NC.
If you find yourself in this situation or a similar hit-and-run situation, you may be wondering how to build a strong defense and avoid serious consequences. Hit-and-run charges in North Carolina can result in fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Because of this, our hit-and-run defense attorneys at Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker want to help NC drivers understand the repercussions of a hit-and-run as well as explore some strategies for building a strong defense in a hit-and-run case.
Understanding Hit and Run Accidents
According to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), there were 11,731 hit-and-run crashes in North Carolina in 2020, resulting in 62 fatalities and 5,607 injuries. Of the 11,731 hit-and-run crashes in 2020, 3,152 involved alcohol or drugs, resulting in 23 fatalities and 1,226 injuries. This data underscores the seriousness of hit-and-run incidents and the importance of taking appropriate action if you find yourself facing hit-and-run charges.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident in NC?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision and leaves the scene without stopping to provide their name, address, and insurance information, or rendering aid if there are injuries. North Carolina law requires drivers involved in a collision to stop and remain at the scene until they have provided the necessary information and, if necessary, assisted any injured parties.
What are the consequences of being charged with a hit and run?
Failure to stop and provide information or render aid after an accident can result in hit-and-run charges.
The severity of the charges and potential consequences depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether there were injuries or fatalities.
- The extent of the property damage.
- The driver’s actions immediately after the accident.
It’s important to note that leaving the scene of an accident in North Carolina can result in serious legal and financial consequences, including fines, license suspension, and jail time.
What is a Class H Felony, and How Does it Apply to Hit-and-Run Accidents?
A hit-and-run accident can be charged as a Class H felony in North Carolina if the accident results in injury or death to another person. In such cases, the penalties for a hit-and-run charge can be severe, including a potential prison sentence of up to 39 months, fines, and revocation of your driver’s license.
Driver’s License Suspension
If you are convicted of either a misdemeanor or a class F felony hit-and-run offense in North Carolina, your driver’s license may be suspended for a minimum of one year. In cases where the hit-and-run resulted in serious injuries or death, the license suspension can be much longer. Additionally, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may require you to complete certain requirements before reinstating your driver’s license, such as paying fines, completing a driver improvement course, and providing proof of insurance.
Hit and Run Defense Strategies
If you’re facing hit-and-run charges in NC, it’s important to work with an experienced hit-and-run defense attorney who can help you build a strong defense using a number of strategies.
Challenging the Evidence
Your attorney may challenge the evidence against you, including witness statements, police reports, and physical evidence. If there are inconsistencies or flaws in the evidence, it may be possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Identifying the Real Driver
In some cases, you may have been falsely accused as the driver involved in the hit-and-run car accident. Your attorney may investigate the case to determine if there is evidence that another driver was responsible for the accident.
Arguing that You Were Not Aware of the Accident or Lack of Intent
If you left the scene of the accident because you were not aware that you had been in a collision, your attorney may argue that you did not have the necessary knowledge or intent to be charged with a North Carolina hit-and-run.
How to Build a Strong Defense for Your Hit-and-Run Case
Here are some strategies a criminal defense attorney may use for building a strong defense in your hit-and-run case:
- Gather evidence: Your defense attorney will work to gather evidence to support your case, including witness statements, police reports, and physical evidence. This may involve conducting interviews, reviewing surveillance footage, and hiring accident reconstruction experts.
- Identify legal issues: Your attorney will identify any potential legal issues that may affect your case, such as improper search and seizure or violations of your constitutional rights. They will work to build a defense around these issues.
- Negotiating a plea bargain: In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution may be the best option. Your attorney can work with the prosecutor to potentially reduce your charges or negotiate a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
- Preparing for trial: If negotiations with the prosecution fail, your attorney may prepare for trial to fight your charges. This may involve gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and developing a strong defense strategy.
Serious Bodily Injury Charges
Serious bodily injury charges are criminal charges that can be filed against a person who is accused of causing serious personal injury to another person. In North Carolina, serious bodily injury is defined as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or results in the permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
For an accident involving serious bodily injury to another person, the penalties can be severe. Depending on the circumstances, hit-and-run charges may be elevated to a felony offense, which carries hefty fines, license suspension, and a jail sentence.
If you are facing serious bodily injury charges, it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you build a strong defense and protect your rights. Your attorney may challenge the evidence against you, negotiate a plea bargain, or prepare for trial to fight your charges. The specific defense strategy will depend on the circumstances of your case, and an experienced defense attorney can help you understand your options and make informed decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions for Hit and Run in NC
What should I do if I’m involved in a hit-and-run accident in NC?
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident in North Carolina, it’s important to follow these steps:
- Do not leave the scene of the accident until you have provided your name, address, and insurance information, and render aid if necessary.
- Call 911 to report the accident and any injuries.
- Take photos of the accident scene and any damage to your vehicle or the other vehicle(s) involved.
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident and seek guidance on how to proceed.
Do I need a lawyer for a hit-and-run case?
If you are facing hit-and-run charges in North Carolina, it’s highly recommended that you work with an experienced defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney can evaluate the evidence against you, identify any potential legal issues, and develop a strategy to protect your rights and potentially get your charges dismissed or lessened.
Can I negotiate a plea bargain in a hit-and-run case?
In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution may be the best option. Your attorney can work with the prosecutor to potentially reduce your charges or negotiate a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. However, the specific circumstances of your case will determine whether a plea bargain is a viable option. An experienced defense attorney can help you understand your options and make informed decisions about how to proceed.
If You’ve Been Charged With A Hit and Run In NC, Contact The Law Office of J.M. Kotzker, P.C.
If you’ve been charged with a hit and run in North Carolina, it’s important to take immediate action to protect your rights and build a strong defense. The consequences of a hit-and-run conviction can be severe; that’s why you need an experienced defense attorney on your side.
At the Law Office of J.M. Kotzker, our criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the legal system and fight your hit-and-run charges. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and potentially get your charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t wait– contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you build a strong defense and protect your future.
Get started today by calling us at (919) 439-5104 or filling out our contact form below.