Leaving the scene of an accident or “hit and run,” as it is commonly referred to, is considered a serious criminal offense in Florida.
According to Florida law, all drivers have a legal obligation to remain at the scene of any car accident that they are involved in. In addition, if anyone else’s involved in the car accident sustained any injuries, they also have a legal obligation to stay and render aid and assistance. Any person who fails to do so, even unintentionally, will face serious consequences.
If you have been accused of leaving the scene of a crash in Port Charlotte, especially one involving serious bodily injury, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our team of dedicated attorneys at The Law Place in Florida has over 75 years of experience between them and will work tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome in your case. To find out more and for free legal advice, call us to schedule a free consultation.
We are available over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all of our calls are at no obligation. So don’t hesitate, contact us at (941) 444-4444.
Hit and Run Accidents in Florida
There has been a steady increase of hit-and-run crashes in the State of Florida in recent years. Despite the fact that drivers are required to stay at the scene of a crash until police arrive, almost a quarter of all car accidents in the state involve a hit and run.
Shockingly, the Florida Highway Patrol reports that drivers flee the scene of car accidents roughly 25 to 40 times per day in Florida. And, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), there were over 105,000 hit-and-run crashes in the year 2019.
Anyone who is convicted of this crime in Florida can expect to face some of the most serious penalties, and therefore, they will be in need of high-quality criminal defense. If you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident that involved serious bodily injury in Port Charlotte, call our law firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Definition of Leaving the Scene of an Accident
According to Florida Statute 316.061, the crime of leaving the scene of an accident is committed when:
- A person is involved in a crash or an accident with another person’s property; such as their vehicle, a building, or any other structure
- The person willfully leaves the scene of the crash without providing the other driver or property owner with any of the required details such as their name, their home address, their vehicle registration information, and driver’s license information.
In the event that the owner of the property was not present to receive their details or cannot be located, the driver is legally required to report the accident to their local law enforcement agency and provide them with their full name, their home address, their vehicle registration information, and driver’s license information as soon as they are reasonably able to.
Traffic Accidents That Involve Serious Bodily Injury or Death in Port Charlotte
According to Florida Statute 316.027, any person who is involved in an accident that has resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of a passenger, the driver of another car, or any other person, they are legally required to:
- Stop their vehicle immediately.
- Provide their full name, home address, vehicle registration information, and driver’s license information.
- Render reasonable aid and assistance to any injured or deceased victims by transporting them to a medical facility for treatment from a medical professional, if needed. If you cannot personally transport the victim, you should arrange for this transportation. You must also report the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency straight away and provide them with your full name, current address, vehicle registration information, and driver’s license information.
For more information regarding the laws that govern hit and run crimes in Port Charlotte, call The Law Place for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Crash in Port Charlotte, FL.
In Florida, the penalties for the crime of leaving the scene of a crash will increase if the accident involved property damage, serious bodily injury, or wrongful death.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage
If you are arrested for leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage in Port Charlotte, you will face second-degree misdemeanor charges.
If you are then successfully convicted of this crime in Florida, a judge may impose one or a combination of the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $500.
- Up to sixty days in jail.
- Up to six months probation.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury
Under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury is a third-degree felony and is punishable as a level five offense.
If you are successfully convicted of this crime in Florida, a judge may impose one or a combination of the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $5,000.
- Up to five years in prison.
- Up to five years of probation.
Driver’s License Revocation
As per Florida Statute 316.027 and Florida Statute 322.0261, if you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury in Port Charlotte, you will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of three years by the Florida DMV. You will not be eligible to apply for a hardship license until you have completed a mandatory 12-hour advanced driver improvement course.
Victim Injury Points
As per Florida’s sentencing guidelines, victim injury points must be taken into consideration. These points are utilized when the defendant’s actions directly resulted in injuries. These points could equate to a mandatory minimum prison sentence that the judge must impose.
When a person leaves the scene of a crash, their crime is the act of leaving the scene after the accident, not the accident itself. As a result, victim injury points are not automatically required by Florida’s sentencing guidelines because the victim’s injuries were not caused by the act of leaving the scene of the accident.
However, if the state prosecutor is able to prove that the victim’s injuries were worsened because emergency services were not notified straight away, and medical treatment was therefore delayed because you left the scene, victim injury points will be added and included in the sentencing guidelines calculation. This could result in an automatic prison sentence.
If you have been accused of a hit-and-run crash involving injury, you will need a criminal defense attorney in your corner.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury
If you are arrested for leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury in Port Charlotte, you could face second-degree felony charges. As per Florida’s sentencing guidelines, this is punishable as a level six offense.
Serious bodily injury is defined as any injury to a person which has created a substantial risk of death, serious or permanent disfigurement, or protracted impairment/ loss of an organ or bodily function. This person could be another driver, a passenger in another car or your own vehicle, or a pedestrian.
If you are successfully convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury in Port Charlotte, the judge can impose one or a combination of the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- Up to fifteen years in prison.
- Up to fifteen years of probation.
You could also face a suspension or an increase in penalties due to victim injury points. An experienced criminal defense attorney from The Law Place could work to establish that the victim’s injuries would have been the same even if you stayed to render aid and assistance. This could save you from spending several years in prison. Call us for a free consultation to find out more.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death
When a person is injured in a car accident and suffers serious bodily injury, this can lead to death. If you are arrested for leaving the scene of an accident involving a death in Port Charlotte, you will face first-degree felony charges. Under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, this is a level seven offense.
If you are successfully convicted of this crime, you could be looking at thirty years in a Florida state prison, and at the very least, you be given a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years, as well as up to thirty years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. You may also face a driver’s license suspension.
Victim Death Points
Similar to hit and run cases involving minor injuries and serious bodily injuries, victim death points are required by the sentencing guidelines if the state prosecutor can prove that the victim’s death was caused by the act of leaving the scene. For example, if the victim was seriously injured, and you left the accident scene without calling the emergency services or rendering reasonable aid, their serious injuries could lead to their death. In this case, victim death points will lead to an increased minimum prison sentence.
If you left the scene of a crash that involved serious bodily injury or death, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The prosecutor will be required to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the fact that you left the scene of a crash directly led to a person’s injuries or death. The right lawyer can use their skills to discredit this claim in court
Call The Law Place today, and we can discuss your charges in a free consultation. Any sensitive details that you disclose during your call will be protected by the attorney-client relationship.
Render Aid and Assistance
Any person who is involved in a serious road traffic accident that has resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another person is required by law to render reasonable aid and assistance to any injured or deceased victims at the scene of the crash. This may involve:
- Checking on them to ensure that they only have minor injuries.
- If they appear to have sustained a life-threatening injury, calling the appropriate emergency medical services.
- Transporting them or making arrangements for them to be taken to the nearest hospital.
Even if you do not think that you were at fault in the accident, if you fail to remain at the scene of a crash in Florida, you could face hit and run charges.
Things to Do at the Scene of an Accident in Port Charlotte
In addition to your legal obligation to render assistance, there are some other things that you are expected to do after you have been involved in a crash:
- You must stop immediately following the collision, staying as close to the scene of the accident as possible.
- If it is not safe to stop directly at the scene, move to a safe spot close by and inform the attending officers of your whereabouts.
- You must show your driver’s license to the other party if they ask.
- You must provide the injured party, or the owner of any damaged property, with your identifying information.
- You must provide your driver’s license details, vehicle registration details, and address to any officers at the scene of the crash.
- You must report the crash to law enforcement.
Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Serious Bodily Injury
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will build your case based on the facts of your unique case. However, some common defenses to the crime of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury include:
Physically Unable to Report
In the case of a serious car accident, it is likely that you have injured yourself and therefore have been rendered physically unable to report the crash. This would mean that you were exempt from fulfilling the requirements of Florida Statute 316.027.
Lack of Knowledge
Let’s say you hit a car whilst backing up, and this innocent, minor error resulted in serious damage or injury. There is a chance that you were unaware that you impacted another vehicle. Knowledge is an essential element for a convicted on this crime because it is not possible to “willfully” leave the scene of an accident if you had no awareness that it had occurred.
Furthermore, the prosecution in your case will be required to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you had actual or constructive knowledge of the serious injury or death. Without this essential proof, your charges could be reduced.
Any defense that could result in a reduction or a dismissal of your charges will not be possible without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has the right knowledge and skills needed to argue your case in the Florida courts. Get in touch with The Law Place today for your free consultation.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in which another person was seriously injured, you will be set to face some very serious criminal charges. It is crucial at this time that you have the best possible criminal defense. Using our combined skills and experience, we can give you the best chance at getting your charges reduced or even dropped completely.
Call The Law Place in Florida today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, every day, and all calls are protected in full by the attorney-client relationship.