The law in Tampa, Florida, dictates that following any road accident case, all involved have a legal obligation to remain at the scene of the accident to exchange information and render any needed aid. This means if there was any injury or death at the scene of an accident, it is considered a hit and run once you leave the scene. Of course, a car accident of any severity, especially one that was dramatic enough to cause injury or death, is a situation bound to induce panic. While there is no way we can condone or encourage leaving the scene of an accident, adrenaline causes people to make rash and illogical decisions.
The penalties attached to any hit and run case will depend entirely on the level of damage caused by the crash. However, death is the most severe level of damage, and therefore leaving the scene of an accident following a death is the highest punishable hit and run charge. If someone is convicted of leaving the scene where someone died, there is a high chance that their life will be overturned by decades in prison and financially devastating fines.
As such, if you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident that caused a death, securing a criminal defense attorney should be your absolute highest priority. Our law firm has a combined history of 75 years, defending those accused of crimes just like these. We will tirelessly devote ourselves to fighting the charges leveled against you and obtain you the most favorable outcome possible for your case. Our lawyers have a wealth of knowledge in both personal injury law. A criminal defense attorney will give you the best chance of getting your charges minimized or dropped entirely.
We offer a free and confidential consultation, and our phone lines are open around the clock. Contact us at (941) 444-4444.
The Laws Surrounding Leaving an Accident Following a Death
The laws surrounding the legalities of leaving the scene of an accident that has resulted in an injury or death are contained within Florida Statute 316.062.
A driver involved in any accident has a legal obligation to remain at the scene of the accident. This is for the purpose of exchanging information with the other people involved in the accident and giving any medical assistance in the event of a personal injury. Furthermore, if the accident is severe enough to incur any level of injury or property damage, the person involved is legally obliged to remain at the scene of an accident until the relevant law enforcement officials arrive and confirm that all obligations have been fulfilled.
This means that leaving the scene of any accident that results in an injury, let alone a death, is considered a hit and run crime and is therefore punished severely. If the accident involved death and you leave the scene, you could be looking at first-degree felony charges.
The statutory requirements for any driver involved in an accident are contained in Florida Statute 316.027. They include:
- It is the driver’s responsibility to stop their vehicle and remain at the scene or as close to the scene of the accident as is safely possible.
- The driver is legally obliged to divulge their information to any officer who is investigating the accident. This includes their full name, their current address, and their license and registration.
- In the event that medical assistance is requested for any personal injury or death as a result of the accident, the driver has a legal obligation to give reasonable assistance. This may mean assisting victims with a transfer to the hospital by contacting emergency medical services.
- The accident must be reported to official law enforcement authorities.
As you can see, the laws surrounding accidents and hit and run cases can be complex and confusing. Therefore, you should make sure you secure the legal representation of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. They will be able to interpret the complexities of Florida traffic law and give you the best chance at getting the charges leveled against you diminished to the lowest possible degree or even dropped entirely.
The Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident That Caused a Death
The sentencing guidelines in Florida clearly state that anyone who is charged with a hit and run, which resulted in the death of another person, will be charged with a first-degree felony. This is as serious a single crime can be, and you should brace yourself for incredibly severe consequences should you receive a guilty conviction.
The penalties for a hit and run involving the death of another are as follows:
- A sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
- An additional 30 years of probation once that 30 years in prison has been completed.
- Fines that can reach as high as $10,000.
- The revocation of your driver’s license for a minimum period of three years.
We do not need to emphasize the life-altering potential of these consequences. Now that you have the information, you can see why you should stop at nothing to acquire the highest possible quality of criminal defense. The Law Place in Tampa has the benefit of over 75 years of combined experience and can out our hard-won wisdom into creating a solid defense personalized to the specifics of your case.
When Exactly Should You Seek Representation From a Tampa Criminal Lawyer?
If you do not already have representation from an experienced Tampa criminal lawyer, the absolute best time to seek it out following a hit and run charge is immediately. Do not waste any time. Each second that passes is a second that an attorney from The Law Place could have been working hard to build you the strongest legal defense possible.
There are certain things that can be potentially detrimental to a case if uttered aloud following your arrest for leaving the scene of an accident involving the death of another. Especially in hit and run cases, everything you say in front of a law enforcement officer is information that they will be able to use against you in a court of the law. You should never speak to a police officer without legal representation present. Especially in severe cases, such as a hit and run case.
Police officers are trained to say anything they can in order to catch you out and achieve an admission of guilt or trick you into incriminating yourself with unnecessary information. They are allowed, if not encouraged, to lie and trick you by any means necessary. Many people are forced or tricked into pleading guilty after being backed into a corner by law enforcement. They believe they have no other choice when actually their case could have been reduced in severity by a lawyer well-versed in hit and run cases.
An attorney from The Law Place will give you all the information you need to get through police interviews without incriminating yourself in the eyes of the law. Your attorney will instruct you when to speak, when not to speak, and exactly what information to share. Without this, you could be actively making your situation worse.
How Is Guilt Proven in a Hit and Run Case Involving a Death?
Unlike civil law cases, which operate on much more loose grounds of proof, any criminal case must involve proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and probable cause.
This means that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor. They must prove to the judge and jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable level of doubt. It is the job of your criminal defense attorney to dispute the evidence and to raise doubt about your guilt. If there is any doubt, it is the juror’s responsibility to find you not guilty for your alleged hit and run crime.
In Tampa, as with throughout Florida, there are four elements involved in proving the guilt of someone accused of leaving the scene of an accident that involved death. Each of the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused was driving the vehicle that was involved in the accident, which resulted in the death of another person.
- The accused should have been aware that they were involved in a car accident.
- The accused, furthermore, should have known that this car accident resulted in an injury or the death of another person.
- The accused then willfully and deliberately committed the act of leaving the scene, making the encounter a hit and run. This would mean that they failed in their duty to remain until the appropriate official response arrived and in their duty to administer reasonable assistance.
If there is a doubt at any of these levels, your criminal defense attorney should be able to use it to get the charges against you diminished. It is not unheard of for hit and run cases to be dropped entirely given the correct level of doubt.
What Are Some Common Defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
There is legal precedent for a large range of defenses in hit and run cases. A good attorney, like one from The Law Place in Tampa, will tailor your defense to the specifics of your situation. This may include elements of the following:
- The accused is a victim of mistaken identity.
- The accused was unaware of any car accident that occurred.
- The accused was, in fact, physically unable to fulfill their duty to report the occurrence of the accident. This could be because of severe injuries sustained in the car accident.
- There were other extenuating circumstances, which meant that the accused did not leave the scene of the accident willfully.
- The accused could not stop at the scene of the accident, but they stopped as close as they could manage.
- The other driver involved made it impossible or refused to exchange information.
- The accused was forced to leave the scene by the other driver or drivers involved in the crash.
- The accused was only leaving the scene to contact or fetch the appropriate emergency services.
- The accused did, in fact, render a reasonable level of medical assistance to the other person involved in the car accident.
As mentioned above, any good criminal attorney will not simply stick to these points. They will go through the details of your specific situation in a thorough set of interviews and investigations and work to personalize a defense that gives you the best chance of having your charges reduced or dropped.
What Qualities Should You Look for in a Good Lawyer?
There are several things that differentiate a good lawyer who will give you the chance of reduced consequences and a bad lawyer who would be a waste of your hard-earned money.
Here at The Law Place, we have no problem explaining these attributes to you because we ensure that anyone entering our practice ticks all of these boxes, above and beyond the call of duty.
When looking for high-quality criminal representation, you should seek out the following qualities:
- Trust – It is integral that your criminal attorney is trustworthy. While everything that you say will be protected by attorney-client privileges, there are many things an attorney can do to discourage you from telling the whole truth. Any feeling of judgment or boredom on the part of the attorney can lead to you withholding details that could be integral to your defense.
- Communication – Your attorney should be a top-notch communicator. This extends beyond interacting with you. They should disclose all tactics, fees, and potential setbacks. They must also have the verbal ability to take on the judge, jury, and witnesses to fight your court battle successfully.
- Commitment – Your defense should be your attorney’s very highest priority. They should be willing to commit all their resources, information, and outside professional assistance to your defense.
If you desire an experienced attorney with all of the above qualities, you should look no further than The Law Place. Call today for a free consultation and find out for yourself.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you are being accused of fleeing the scene of an accident that involved the death of another person, contacting and securing the highest-quality criminal defense representation should be your very highest priority. The Law Place can offer you the knowledge, wisdom, and experience you need to stand trial confidently.
Call The Law Place today to set up a free evaluation and over-the-phone consultation. All the information you disclose to us over the telephone is fully confidential and protected by attorney-client confidentiality laws. Our lines are never closed, so you don’t need to worry about altering your busy schedule.
For the best chance at beating your charges, or at least getting them reduced, call our office today at (941) 444-4444.