Tampa Hit & Run Defense Lawyers
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charges in Florida
A hit and run is a criminal act that occurs when a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, causes property damage or physical injury to another person, and then leaves the scene. According to Florida law, when a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, they must report the accident to law enforcement and exchange appropriate information with others involved in the collision. This is required even if they did not cause the crash.
What Constitutes a Hit & Run Offense
Hit and runs can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Classification will usually depend on criminal history, the extent of property damage or physical injury, and if the person was under the influence of drugs/alcohol at the time of the accident. When DUI is involved, additional penalties will likely apply. Without an experienced Tampa violent crime defense lawyer, people stand to face numerous life-altering legal penalties if convicted.
For the prosecution to prove your guilt, they will need to prove:
- The defendant was driving the vehicle.
- The defendant caused the auto accident.
- The defendant knew or should have reasonably known that the accident occurred.
- The defendant intentionally left the scene without rendering aid or exchanging information.
According to Florida law, all drivers involved with an accident are required to stop and stay at the scene of a crash long enough to “give information and render aid.” If the driver fails to fulfill this duty, they will be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident.
Misdemeanor Hit & Runs
If the only damage sustained in an accident was property damage, a driver could still be charged with a second degree misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident before providing their information and providing help (Florida Statutes 316.061). This could mean up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Felony Hit & Run Penalties in Tampa
If someone was injured in the crash and the driver fled the scene, the driver could be found guilty of a third-degree felony, facing penalties such as imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of $5,000. If the driver fails to stop at the scene of accident with serious injury, then this could be a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and being fined $10,000.
In accidents where someone is killed and the driver flees the scene, the driver could be charged with a first degree felony and face a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison. The sentence could be as high as 30 years' incarceration and a $10,000 fine, per Florida Statutes 316.027.
Tampa Hit & Run Charges in DUI Cases
A driver may be charged with leaving the scene of the accident as a separate criminal offense in conjunction with DUI charges. If a driver is accused of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, they face a first-degree felony. Penalties may include up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Non-Contact Hit & Run Charges in Tampa
In some instances, a person can receive hit and run charges even if their car was not damaged in an accident. These are called phantom or non-contact hit and runs. Non-contact hit and run charges occur when a car causes an accident without colliding with the involved parties, the driver knows the accident happened, and they leave the scene without rendering aid or providing information.
After Being Charged with a Hit & Run in Tampa, FL
If you’ve been charged with a hit and run in Tampa, it’s important to obtain help from an experienced criminal defense firm. Anything you say to law enforcement can be held against you in court, so never speak about the details of your case to investigators until you’ve spoken with an attorney. While you might feel eager to share your side of the story, you need legal counsel. Once a person has been charged with hit and run, whether as a misdemeanor or felony, they should immediately review their legal options with a criminal defense attorney.
If you want to speak to someone now, call our Tampa hit and run defense firm at (813) 321-7323. We have been fighting for clients in Florida since 2001.
Our firm has helped thousands of clients facing criminal charges in Tampa and across Florida. Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony hit and run charges, our team is ready to dedicate the attention and resources required to secure the best possible result.
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