When you get caught up in a serious car accident, your instinct may be to panic and flee the scene. This is commonly known as a “hit and run.” But it is important to remember that in the State of Florida, leaving the scene of an accident that you have been involved in is against the law. Florida Statute 316.062 states that all Florida drivers have a duty to give aid and information following any road accident. Drivers tend to leave the scene in fear of the repercussions, but the penalties for doing so can be even more serious, especially if the accident involved a death.
If you or a loved one have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident that involved the death of another person in Clearwater, FL., you are going to need legal representation, and you should waste no time in obtaining it. A criminal defense attorney from our law firm can provide an aggressive and comprehensive defense of any crime that you have been accused of. As a team, we have 75 years of combined experience defending the criminally accused. With our help, you could succeed in having your charges reduced or even dismissed.
The Law on Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death in Florida
The law regarding leaving the scene of an accident can be found under Florida Statute 316.062.
According to this statute, any driver who is involved in a car accident on private or public property that results in the death of another person or any property damage is required by law to stop at the scene immediately (or as close to the scene as possible). They should remain there until a police officer deems that they have fulfilled the requirements of the statute. Failure to comply is considered a criminal offense and classified as a felony in the first degree.
If the defendant has received a previous conviction for this crime, or any similar crime, they will be taken to jail, where they will remain until a bail hearing is scheduled.
The driver’s legal duties are outlined in Florida Statute 316.027. They are as follows:
- Any driver who has been involved in a road accident must stop their vehicle at the scene or as close to the scene as possible.
- Any driver who has been involved in a road accident must give all requested information to any investigating officers. This includes their full name, current address, license information, and vehicle registration information.
- Drivers should remain at the scene of an accident and must offer “reasonable assistance” to any persons involved. This includes giving first aid if required or requested by a victim and transferring or coordinating the transfer of any victims to the nearest hospital.
- Drivers must report any accident to law enforcement.
The laws surrounding the crime of leaving the scene of an accident are complex. Therefore, you should consult with an experienced attorney at your earliest opportunity to understand your rights. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact The Law Place today.
The Penalties of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
In Florida, courts follow strict sentencing guidelines – if you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, you will be charged with a first-degree felony under Florida Statute 316.027.
The penalties for a first-degree felony conviction are as follows:
- A prison sentence of up to thirty years.
- A probation period of up to thirty years.
- A $10,00 fine as well as court costs.
- License suspension for a minimum of three years with no possibility of a hardship license until an advanced driver improvement course has been completed.
The repercussions of this crime will haunt you long after your fine has been paid and your prison sentence has been served. A felony conviction will remain on your record permanently. This can have a huge impact on your life. You would lose your right to vote, your ability to apply for certain jobs, and your right to own a firearm.
Due to the serious consequences that are associated with a hit and run offense, you will need to fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed. This is only possible with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Call our Florida law firm today for your free consultation.
Possible Defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving a Death
Every individual situation is different, and your defense lawyer will tailor your defense to the facts surrounding your hit and run case to minimize the potential consequences. Some examples of possible defenses that could be put forward on your behalf following an arrest for leaving the scene of an accident include:
- You were not driving the vehicle in question.
- You were not aware that a crash had occurred.
- You were not aware that the incident was serious and, therefore, did not know that you were required to stop.
- You had yourself suffered an injury, so you were unable to give aid or information.
- You did not leave willingly; there were certain circumstances that meant that you could not remain at the scene.
- You stopped as close as you could to the scene.
- The other driver involved refused to accept aid and did not want to take your information.
- You were instructed by the other driver to leave the scene to call the emergency services.
- You offered reasonable assistance that falls within the terms of the statute.
- The victim died from the injures after a delay in medical aid, not because you left the scene of the accident.
Even if there is no defense that could result in you having your hit and run charges dismissed, there is always a chance that an experienced lawyer can fight to have your charges reduced or negotiate a plea deal on your behalf. To find out what your options are following an arrest for leaving the scene of an accident, contact The Law Place today for a free case evaluation.
The Burden of Proof in a Leaving the Scene of an Accident Case
In all criminal cases, the defendant does not have a responsibility to prove anything. It is always the burden of the prosecutor to prove your guilt. They must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If he or she is unable to do so, the jurors should find you not guilty.
The prosecutor is required to establish these four elements for a conviction:
- There is no doubt that the defendant in question was the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident that resulted in wrongful death.
- There is no reason why the defendant would not have known that they were involved in a serious accident.
- There is no reason why the defendant would not have been aware that the crash was serious and caused serious injury, death, or property damage.
- There is no reason why the defendant knowingly could not have stopped at the scene or as close to it as possible and, therefore, could not have offered “reasonable” assistance.
When a defendant is on trial, their civil liberty is at stake, and the court takes this very seriously. In law, nothing is regarded as higher than a person’s freedom. Therefore, for you to be convicted, the evidence against you must be conclusive. A good criminal defense lawyer can give rise to doubt in most criminal cases. Let us fight for your rights and the outcome that you deserve.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Car Accident Civil Lawsuit Cases
The limit that applies to car accident cases in Florida is based on whether the accident resulted in injury or in death, according to Florida Statute 95.11.
If anyone sustained injuries in the crash, they must file a lawsuit within four years of the date of the accident. The time limit applies to any lawsuit where a person wants to file for damage to or total loss of their vehicle because of the crash.
If someone lost their life as a result of the accident, the victim’s family could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who was at fault. This lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accident or the date of the victim’s death.
Hiring an Attorney Following a Hit and Run in Clearwater, Florida
If you are under investigation for any criminal offense, you should waste no time in seeking the right legal advice.
Some people hire an attorney when things get more serious, and a court date has been set, but the reality is, you need appropriate legal support immediately after an event has occurred so you can get the right advice early on. We often start working on cases where suspects had already said the wrong thing when they were initially questioned, or they have missed the opportunity to collect their own evidence.
Protect Your Constitutional Rights
Remember that you have Constitutional rights, and you can refuse to answer any questions before speaking with a qualified lawyer. Law enforcement agencies are skilled in the art of extracting information from suspects. They also encourage suspects to admit their guilty by convincing them that it’s their best and only option when this is never the case. With the right legal team on your side from the very beginning, you are giving yourself the best chance of winning your case or reducing the potential consequences.
If you have been arrested following a car accident where you failed to remain at the scene, call The Law Place today, and one of our experienced defense attorneys can instruct you on how to proceed.
What a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Do for You
Your attorney’s role goes beyond delivering your defense in a courtroom. As soon as you hire an attorney from our law firm, they will begin gathering all the evidence relating to your case. This includes interviewing credible witnesses, reviewing property damage, requesting and re-examining any police reports or subpoena documents, and sending our own team of crash scene investigators to the accident scene to collect our own information.
Your lawyer will also begin to research relevant case statutes and precedents to help build your defense. They will prepare to examine witnesses at hearings and dispositions and begin to build a comprehensive defense to deliver in court.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been arrested for the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, you need legal advice now. No matter how innocent or guilty you believe you are, you should never answer any questions beyond providing your name and other details at the time of your arrest before speaking to an attorney.
Our law firm is unique because we work as a team. This way, we can have many eyes on your case, and you benefit from our combined knowledge and expertise. We will thoroughly investigate your case from all angles and support you through the entire legal process.
The criminal defense attorneys from The Law Place have helped many people in similar situations to you, in Clearwater and the rest of Florida.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444 for a thorough and honest free evaluation of your charges. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.