Leaving the Scene of an Accident Lawyer
A car accident is always unfortunate, but, in most instances, it’s not a significant problem that can’t be fixed. However, various reasons may tempt drivers to leave the scene of the accident. In some cases, they may be worried that they will be charged with another offense, like driving with a suspended license or driving under the influence (DUI). In those situations, drivers believe it’s better to ignore a collision they may have caused to avoid criminal charges.
Charged With Leaving the Scene of an Accident And Have Questions? We Can Help, Tell Us What Happened.
Leaving the scene of an accident, commonly referred to as a hit-and-run, is a criminal offense that can lead to severe consequences if you are convicted. If you have been criminally charged for leaving the scene of an accident, you need to be able to defend yourself. Hit-and-run defense lawyers can provide much-needed insight into the legal system for clients facing this serious criminal charge. The Pennsylvania law firm of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. offers decades of experience in defending clients charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Some of our attorneys include former prosecutors, and they provide firsthand knowledge of how the government builds a typical criminal case.
What Constitutes Hit-and-Run Offenses in Pennsylvania?
The state of Pennsylvania typically views hit-and-run charges in a serious light, especially if personal injury or property damage ensues. Some people who are accused of leaving the scene of an accident may fear prosecution for additional charges, such as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving without a license. No matter the circumstances that lead to this type of charge, however, each defendant has the right to present a vigorous defense in court.
Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt any charges they bring against hit-and-run defendants. Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 3744 requires all drivers to stop at car crash scenes. Drivers must further report car accidents to police officials, even if they did not cause the crash. If the other vehicle involved in the accident was unattended at the time, the responsible driver must leave their insurance and contact information.
Whenever both drivers are at the scene, however, they must render reasonable aid to any injured parties while waiting for police to respond to the scene. All drivers should provide their contact information with each other and with the police. Such information includes:
- Name and address
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy
- Insurance claim contact information
- Vehicle registration information
Pennsylvania law requires drivers to report the car crash to the closest police station in the event that police fail to arrive at the scene.
What Are The Consequences For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In PA?
Leaving the scene of an accident can be charged as a summary offense, or, in the worst case, a second-degree felony, depending on the facts of the case. In Pennsylvania, the following charges and penalties may potentially apply to leaving the scene of an accident involving:
- Property damage to an unattended vehicle: When drivers fail to leave the required information during a hit and run to an unoccupied vehicle, it’s considered a summary offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $300.
- Property damage to an attended vehicle: When the vehicle is occupied, it’s considered a third-degree misdemeanor with penalties that include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500 per Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 3743.
- Injuries to another driver or passenger: If another person suffers injuries in the hit and run, it’s considered a first-degree misdemeanor for which the penalties include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
- Serious bodily injury to another driver: If the hit and run causes serious bodily injury to anyone involved, it’s considered a third-degree felony requiring a minimum of 90 days imprisonment and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 per Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 3742.
- Death to another driver or passenger: Leaving the scene of an accident that caused death to another is considered a second-degree felony punishable by at least three years in detention and a minimum fine of $2,500.
Having the guidance of an experienced hit-and-run defense attorney may make a difference in the severity of charges and penalties that you ultimately face. Criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in sifting through the facts and evidence of a case to build strong defenses for their clients.
How Long After Leaving The Scene Of An Accident Can You Be Charged?
If you’re involved in a hit and run, you could potentially be criminally charged months or even years after the occurrence, depending on the violation. Suppose you hit an unattended vehicle, and the violation is a summary offense. In that case, law enforcement can press charges up to 30 days after completing their investigation or learning the other driver’s identification, whichever is longer.
The time limit is two years before you could be indicted for the crime of misdemeanor hit and run offenses. If you face a felony charge for leaving the scene of an accident, there is no time limit on when law enforcement may bring charges.
What Are Defenses To Leaving The Scene Charges In Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you left the crash scene to garner a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident. If you remained at the accident scene, a knowledgeable lawyer will gather evidence to demonstrate that you did so.
Other defense strategies to leaving the scene of an accident charge in Pennsylvania include:
- Somebody else drove your car away from the crash scene
- Your vehicle was not involved in the hit and run
- You didn’t stop because you were driving to the hospital due to an emergency
- You were unaware that you hit another vehicle, object, or person
It can be challenging to fight hit and run charges. Having experienced legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands Pennsylvania’s leaving the scene of accident laws can help you build a powerful defense to protect your best interests. Your attorney at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. will thoroughly investigate the incident and evaluate the evidence to identify the most effective defense strategies to execute.
Contact the Hit-and-Run Defense Lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C.
If you’re facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident in Pennsylvania, your freedom and future may be at risk if you do not act swiftly. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. Our team of skilled criminal defense lawyers is prepared to defend you through this challenging time and ensure your rights are fully protected.
Our attorneys include former prosecutors who use their knowledge to strengthen your case. Whether you’re facing a summary offense or a felony hit and run charge, you can rely on our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers to handle your case strategically and skillfully. Talk to our knowledgeable leaving the scene of an accident lawyers about your case over a free consultation by calling 215-798-7081 or complete a contact form.