Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony?
When two motor vehicles are involved in a crash in Florida, or when a motor vehicle and another object or person collide, stopping at the scene and exchanging information is critical.
Indeed, not only is the exchange of information important for the purpose of filing a motor vehicle accident insurance claim, but it is also a legal requirement, too.
If you have been involved in an accident and have left the scene without stopping, you may be facing serious charges. Here’s what you should know about leaving the scene of an accident, Florida’s penalties for hit-and-run accidents, and how working with an experienced traffic attorney can help.
Leaving Scene of Accident - Florida Laws and Penalties
As found in 2018 Florida Statutes Section 316.061, when a crash involves damage to any vehicles or property, the driver of a vehicle involved is required by law to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene, provide their name and address to the other party involved, and render any aid that is necessary and that is reasonable.
The duty to stop at the scene of an accident and to exchange information and render aid also applies in the event that a crash occurs that results in personal injury or death, as found in 2018 Florida Statutes Section 316.027.
As found in the two sections of Florida code cited above, whether or not the failure to stop at the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor or a felony crime depends upon the type of damage that results from the crash.
To be sure, failing to stop at the scene of an accident that results in damage to vehicle or property is a misdemeanor offense of the second degree; failing to stop at the scene of an accident that results in injury to a person (other than serious bodily injury) is a felony of the third degree.
In the event that a person flees the scene of an accident in which a person suffers serious bodily injury, they are guilty of a felony of the second degree - a more serious offense. Fleeing the scene of an accident that results in death to a person is a felony of the first degree.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Florida
As stated above, the act of leaving the scene of the accident is either a misdemeanor offense (when property damage only is involved), a third-degree felony offense (when minor personal injury occurs), a second-degree felony offense (when a victim suffers serious bodily injury), or a first-degree offense (when an accident results in death). These offenses are punished in the following manner in Florida:
- Second-degree misdemeanor. Even though a second-degree misdemeanor charge may not be as serious as a felony offense, it is still penalized by a fine of $500 and up to 60 days incarceration.
- Second- or third-degree felony. A second- or third-degree felony charge in Florida is penalized by a license revocation period of at least three years, a prison sentence of up to five years, and a fine of $5,000.
- First-degree felony. Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida that results in the death of a person will carry a mandatory minimum imprisonment sentence of four years and up to 30 years. In addition, the convicted individual will also face a license suspension of up to three years, as well as a fine of $10,000.
Defending Yourself Against Hit-and-Run Charges in Florida
Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is a serious offense, and one that could have long-term repercussions on your life and your opportunities, especially if the accident in which you were involved resulted in bodily injury or death to another party. If you have been charged with a hit-and-run, it is of the utmost importance that you retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
Your attorney can help you to understand the charges against you, the potential sentence that you face, and how you can defend yourself against charges or reach a plea deal with the prosecution.
Call Our Florida Traffic Attorneys Today
At the law offices of Skubiak & Rivas, our experienced Florida traffic attorneys understand the fear that you may be facing if you are looking at hit-and-run charges in our state. Prison time and large fines aren’t things that you want to deal with - the best thing that you can do to improve the outcome of your case is to hire an attorney who understands the law and has experience working on cases like yours.
At the law firm of Skubiak and Rivas, our attorneys are passionate about defending clients like you, and are ready to start working on your case today. Call us now for your free consultation.