Car accidents are stressful and can result in significant legal and financial consequences. If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s crucial to remain at the scene and exchange information with the other driver. An accident involving someone leaving the scene, also known as a hit and run, can result in serious criminal charges in North Carolina.
At the Law Office of J.M. Kotzker, our experienced traffic law attorneys represent clients who have fled from the scene of an accident resulting in a hit-and-run offense. Therefore, our criminal defense attorneys have the legal expertise to advise individuals facing hit-and-run charges. We aim to help you understand what hit-and-run charges are, the possible consequences of a hit-and-run accident, and the potential legal defense strategies used to minimize punishments.
What is a Hit-and-Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver leaves the accident scene without providing their contact and insurance information. This can involve hitting another vehicle, a pedestrian, or property, such as a fence or building. Hit-and-run accidents are illegal in North Carolina and can result in serious legal consequences.
Hit and Run Consequences
Drivers who flee the scene after an accident occurred can face Class H felony charges and potential jail time. In addition, they may face civil lawsuits from other drivers, pedestrians, or property owners. Hit-and-run accidents can also result in increased insurance rates, difficulty obtaining insurance, and a tarnished driving record. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney with success in representing hit-and-run clients is one way to help minimize the consequences of your accident in North Carolina.
Class H Felony Charges for Hit and Run Accidents
In North Carolina, hit-and-run accidents can result in Class H felony charges if the accident results in serious bodily injury or death. Class H felonies are the lowest level of felony charges but still carry significant legal consequences. If convicted, offenders may face up to 39 months in prison and significant fines.
Possible Fines and Jail Time for Hit and Run Charges
The penalties for hit-and-run charges depend on the severity of the accident and whether it resulted in injury or property damage. Hit-and-run charges can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and potential jail time, even for first-time offenders. In addition, drivers who flee the scene of an accident can face a suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.
Evidence Needed to Convict a Hit-and-Run
To convict a driver of hit-and-run charges in North Carolina, prosecutors must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the driver fled the scene of the accident.
Types of Evidence Used in Hit and Run Cases
Let’s explore some types of evidence commonly used in hit-and-run cases.
- Witness testimonies and identifying the driver: Eyewitnesses can provide valuable testimony to help identify the driver who fled the scene of the accident. They may be able to describe the driver’s appearance, the make and model of the vehicle, and the direction of travel.
- Physical evidence and vehicle damage: Physical evidence, such as paint transfer or debris from the vehicle, can help to identify the driver who fled the scene of the accident. Vehicle damage can also be used to identify the driver and provide evidence in court.
- Surveillance footage and other sources of evidence: Surveillance footage from cameras in the area can provide valuable evidence in hit-and-run cases. In addition, social media posts, phone records, and credit card transactions can help to identify the driver who fled the scene of the accident.
Serious Bodily Injury and Hit and Run Charges
If a hit-and-run accident results in serious bodily injury, the legal consequences can be even more severe. Serious bodily injury is defined as an injury that results in a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily function or organ.
Potential Consequences of a Hit and Run with Serious Bodily Injury
Hit-and-run accidents that result in serious bodily injury can lead to Class F felony charges, which carry more severe legal consequences. If convicted, offenders may face up to 63 months in prison and significant fines. In addition, they may be required to pay restitution to the victim for their medical expenses and other damages.
Legal Defense Strategies for Hit and Run with Serious Bodily Injury
If you’ve been charged with hit-and-run charges that involve serious bodily injury, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer who specializes in motor vehicle and traffic-related offenses.
Here are some possible legal defense strategies for hit-and-run with serious bodily injury cases:
- Challenging the evidence: A defense lawyer may be able to challenge the evidence used to identify the driver who fled the scene of the accident. This can involve analyzing physical evidence, witness statements, and surveillance footage to identify inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
- Arguing lack of knowledge: In some cases, a driver may not have realized they hit someone due to poor visibility or other factors. If the driver can provide evidence to demonstrate that they were unaware of the accident, they may be able to argue for lack of knowledge as a defense.
- Negotiating plea deals: In some cases, a defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors to reduce the severity of the legal consequences. This can involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge, which can lead to reduced penalties and legal consequences.
It’s important for anyone facing hit-and-run charges to consult with an expert in hit-and-run legal defense strategies by contacting a defense attorney as soon as possible. While the above includes some of the possible strategies to be used for defense in a hit-and-run case, it can not be said for certain if these will apply to your specific case until it is reviewed by a legal professional.
Can I be charged with hit and run if I didn’t realize I hit someone?
Yes, a driver can be charged with hit and run even if they didn’t realize they hit someone. It’s important to remain at the scene of an accident and exchange information with the other driver, even if you’re unsure if anyone was injured.
What should I do if I am involved in a hit-and-run accident?
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, it’s important to remain at the scene and call 911 if there are any injuries. Exchange information with the other driver and contact the police as soon as possible.
Can I hire a lawyer for a hit-and-run charge?
Yes, it’s crucial to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been charged with hit-and-run in North Carolina. A lawyer can provide you with legal representation and guidance throughout the legal process.
Will my insurance cover a hit-and-run accident?
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, your insurance may provide coverage under your uninsured motorist coverage. It’s important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident.
Let The Law Office of J.M. Kotzker Help You Fight Your Hit and Run Charges
If you’ve been charged with hit and run in North Carolina, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
At The Law Office of J.M. Kotzker, we have the legal expertise and experience necessary to help you fight your hit-and-run charges. With years of experience representing clients in hit-and-run cases, we understand the legal system and can provide you with the best possible defense. We offer personalized attention and work tirelessly to protect your constitutional rights, build a strong defense, and minimize the consequences of your case.