Under Florida law, if you are involved in an accident, you are required to remain at the scene. If you leave the scene, even if you were not at fault for the accident, you could face a criminal violation. Additionally, if another party was injured due to the accident, you could be facing a 3rd-degree felony.
The ramifications for leaving the scene of an accident that you were involved in can be severe and include up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, the revocation of your driver’s license, and a fine of up to $10,000. You should seek help from a law firm who are well versed in Florida law as soon as possible. Contact The Law Place today and seek a free consultation with a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer.
Contact us in Sarasota, FL., at (941) 444-4444.
Definition of Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident is often referred to as a ‘hit and run’ and will be charged under Florida Statute 316.061. In accordance with this statute, someone can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident if an individual:
- Is involved in an accident with another person’s property, such as a vehicle, structure, or building.
- Willfully leaves the scene of the accident without providing their name, registration information, address, and driver’s license to the property owner.
If the property owner is not present to exchange your information and cannot be located, you are required to report the accident to local law enforcement.
Crash Involving Injury or Death
Under Florida Statute 316.027, if you are involved in an accident that results in injury or death to any person, then you are required to:
- Stop immediately.
- Provide your name, registration information, address, and driver’s license.
- Provide reasonable assistance to the injured or deceased person by calling emergency services or making transportation arrangements to a hospital.
If the other party is not in a condition for you to help, you should contact emergency services as soon as possible and remain at the scene until they arrive.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of the Accident With Serious Bodily Injury?
The penalties associated with leaving the scene of an accident in Florida are largely dependent on the extent of the other parties’ injuries. If the other party suffered a minor injury, then jail time is unlikely. However, if they suffered permanent disfigurement or serious injury, then you could be facing a felony charge.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage
If you left the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage and no one was injured, then you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor is still a criminal charge but is less serious than a felony, and the penalties reflect this. They could include:
- Up to 60 days in jail.
- 6 months of probation.
- Up to $500 fine.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury
If you left the scene of an accident that resulted in an injury to the other party, then you could face a third-degree felony. Although a felony is a more serious conviction than a misdemeanor, a third-degree felony is the least serious felony type. They are punishable as a Level 5 offense, and if convicted, the judge can decide on a combination of the following penalties:
- Up to 5 years in prison.
- 5 years of probation.
- Up to $5,000 fine.
Leaving an Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury
Leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury is classified as a second-degree felony and, under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, is punishable as a Level 6 offense.
Serious bodily injury is an injury to any person, including passengers or the driver, which creates a physical condition that poses risk of disfigurement, death, protracted loss, or impairment of a limb or organ’s function.
If convicted, a judge can impose a combination of the following penalties:
- Up to 15 years in prison.
- Up to 15 years of probation.
- Up to $10,000 fine.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death
If you left the scene of an accident that led to an individual’s death, then this is classified as a first-degree felony, which is the most severe type of conviction. It is punishable under Florida’s sentencing guidelines as a Level 7 offense. Penalties include:
- Up to 30 years in prison and a minimum of 4 years.
- Up to 30 years of probation.
- Up to $10,000 fine.
Driver’s License Revocation
In line with Florida Statute 316.027 and Florida Statute 322.0261, if you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident that caused any injury, then you will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of three years. You can apply for a hardship license, which will allow you to drive to and from work, but only after you have completed a 12-hour advanced driver improvement course.
Victim Injury Considerations
Florida’s sentencing guidelines include victim injury points, which will then result in a minimum prison sentence. However, victim injury points are designed for when a crime caused an injury. In this situation, your crime was leaving the scene, not the actual car accident. Therefore, victim injury points are not always used. However, if it is determined that you were leaving the scene, and the delayed medical treatment made their injuries worse, then victim injury points can be used to justify a prison sentence.
Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Common defenses to the crime of leaving the scene of an accident include:
Lack of knowledge – Knowledge of an accident is an essential factor. The prosecution must prove that you were aware the accident occurred and that you had actual or constructive knowledge of the injury. Without proof of this, you could be convicted of a lesser charge, such as a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of the accident.
Physically unable to report – It may be that you were left physically incapacitated because of the accident and were unable to report the accident.
Plea deal – There are some situations where your lawyer will look to arrange a plea deal. A skilled defense attorney may be able to negotiate a misdemeanor charge, with the condition that you pay for any injuries and property damage caused by the accident. Such a plea deal could spare you from a felony conviction and a lengthy prison sentence.
Collecting Evidence in Sarasota
The law in Florida requires law enforcement to make an arrest for a potential felony. Therefore, it is likely that you will be taken to jail to leave the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death in Sarasota, FL.
It is critical that you contact a law firm, such as The Law Place, as soon as possible, regardless of how severe the accident or subsequent injuries were.
You should also be completely open and honest with your attorney. The more they know about what occurred, the better, as it will prevent them from being caught off-guard by the prosecution. Remember, their goal is to have your charge dismissed or lessened, and nothing you say to them will be used against you.
When you contact The Law Place, we will get to work right away investigating the accident and determining whether we can find anything that may help us defend you. For example, there may be video surveillance, 911 calls, witness statements, pictures of the damage, reports from the mechanic, and police reports. If evidence is not obtained quickly, it could be damaged or destroyed, and it could be the difference between us successfully lessening your charges, having them dismissed, or you receiving the maximum punishment.
We keep our phone lines open 24/7 so that you can contact us when you need it.
Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer Before Hiring Them
When you are facing a potential felony, you need to find quality representation quickly. However, you must not rush into anything and ensure you have the best representation possible. If you decide on The Law Place, you can have confidence that you have the best representation. However, when you approach any law firm, you should ask the following sorts of questions.
- Can you provide me with real references from your previous clients?
- How many jury trials have you successfully represented clients in?
- Have you handled similar cases to mine and been successful at having your client’s charges dropped or lessened?
- What are your fees, and is it possible to have a payment plan?
- What is your track record when it comes to arranging plea bargains?
The first one is particularly important. Any good lawyer in Florida should be able to show you references from clients who were happy with the quality of their representation. This will help to put you at ease and give you confidence in your defense.
What Makes The Law Place Different From Other Florida Law Firms?
When you face a potential felony and a lengthy prison sentence, you need to make sure that you have the best possible defense team. We will do everything possible to develop an aggressive defense strategy that will be developed with the audience in mind, whether that be jury or judge. We will listen to your story and gain an understanding of your case to make sure that we attack the prosecution from every angle.
Our experienced team of attorneys has over 75 years of experience combined. We pride ourselves on continually developing our skills and knowledge, in and out of the courtroom. We will assess your case as a team so that no stone is left unturned, meaning you are getting a whole team of attorneys for the price of one. We have helped clients across the State of Florida, including many cases in Sarasota. Most of our attorneys are AVVO rated 10.10, which is the highest rating possible. The score is based on length of practice, trial skills, awards, client reviews, and associations.
Contact The Law Place in Sarasota Today
Hiring the right criminal defense attorney could be the most important decision of your life if you have left the scene of an accident. Resulting in personal injury or death, you could face a felony charge and a long prison sentence. We will do everything we can to prevent that from happening.
Contact us in Sarasota today for a free consultation with a dedicated lawyer.
Call now on (941) 444-4444.