Hit and run charges result when a driver fails to stop and provide their contact and other information after a car accident or after damaging private property with their car. Normally, hit and run charges result in misdemeanor criminal charges, which may involve consequences like a short stay in jail and some criminal fines.
However, there are some circumstances which would make hit and run charges a felony. These may involve:
- Hit and run that causes severe bodily injury or death to another person
- Hit and run resulting in serious property damage (criminal statutes may list the dollar amount that the damage needs to be over)
- Hit and run while evading the police
- Hit and run involving the striking of a police car or police officer
- DUI or drunk driving is a factor
Felony hit and run charges can result in stricter consequences, such as higher fines and a sentence in prison for at least one year.
Are There Various Degrees to Felony Hit and Run Charges?
Some jurisdictions organize felony hit and run charges into various degrees, similar to the way that homicide and murder charges are classified. For example, felony hit and run resulting in minor injury may be a felony in the fifth degree, whereas hit and run resulting in death might be a felony in the 2nd or 3rd degree (the names of the charges will vary by state).
These types of distinctions can result in different sentencing consequences for the defendant. Also, repeat offenses can change the severity of the legal punishments as well.
Is Felony Hit and Run the Same on Public Roads as it is for Private Areas?
For vehicle accidents that occur on public roads, the responsibility to stop and provide information is generally more obvious, especially if it’s a car-to-car collision. Many drivers might also be hesitant to flee scene on a public roads, where are there more cars and witnesses.
For private roads and areas however, the duty to provide one’s contact information still exists. Even if a car-to-car collision isn’t involved, and the accident caused only property damage, the driver still has a duty to leave a note and/or contact the property owner regarding the damage. Felony charges can result for severely damaged property.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Need Help Concerning Felony Hit and Run Charges?
Like any felony charge, felony hit and run is a very serious type of criminal charge. It would be in your best interests to contact a criminal defense attorney if you have any questions or legal concerns involving felony hit and run. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice regarding your situation, and can represent you in a court of law if you’ve been summoned for an appearance. Criminal laws can vary widely by state, but a qualified attorney can assist you with your legal needs.