If you are involved in a road accident in Florida, you must remain at the scene to exchange information, and if necessary, contact law enforcement and arrange for medical care. Leaving the scene will constitute a hit and run, and you could face a criminal violation. If another party was hurt in the incident, you could be facing a felony conviction in Tampa, FL.
If you are found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury in Tampa, you will have your driver’s license revoked, and you will be charged with a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony in Florida include up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, a fine of up to $10,000.
These consequences are very serious, and you should do everything you can to avoid them. When you are talking about something that could impact you for the rest of your life, you need the best possible legal help. At The Law Place, we boast over 75 years of combined experience. We are committed to continuous learning. Many of our attorneys have an AVVO rating of 10.0, the highest possible rating. We have achieved this through our beaming reviews, years in practice, and awards.
Definition of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Tampa, FL.
When charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Florida, often referred to as a hit and run, you will be charged under Florida Statute 316.062.
The law is clear. If you are involved in an accident, then you are required to stop at the scene immediately or as close as possible. You are then to and remain until law enforcement informs you that you can leave, or if police are not required, then you may leave after exchanging information with the other driver.
In accordance with this statute, law enforcement must be called to the scene if there has been severe property damage or injury.
The driver’s statutory duties are clearly outlined in Florida Statute 316.027 and are as follows:
- Any driver involved in an accident must stop immediately or as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Drivers must provide their full name, current address, license, and vehicle registration information.
- If requested by law enforcement, drivers must provide their driver’s license or permit to drive.
- If medical assistance is required by any person involved in the accident, the driver must give “reasonable assistance.” This includes calling an ambulance or arranging for transportation to a hospital.
- The driver must report the accident to the police. If there has been an injury or serious property damage, this must be done at the scene. If not, it must still be reported to the police, but it can be done in the local police station or online.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of the Accident in Tampa?
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, or committing a hit and run, are dependent on the extent of the resulting damage and injuries. If the other party only suffered a minor injury, it is unlikely that you will face jail time. On the other hand, if the other party has suffered a serious bodily injury, you could face a felony for leaving the scene of an accident.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage in Florida
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage, but no-one was injured, you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Although a misdemeanor is still a criminal condition that will appear on your criminal record, it is less serious than a felony, and the penalties make this clear. They include:
- Up to 60 days in jail.
- Up to 6 months of probation.
- A fine of up to $500.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury in Florida
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving minor injuries, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor, but this is the least serious felony type. If you are convicted of this type of hit and run, then your penalties could include:
- Up to 5 years in prison.
- Up to 5 years of probation.
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Leaving an Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury in Florida
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, you will be charged with a second-degree felony.
Serious bodily injury is an injury that creates a physical condition that poses the risk of death, disfigurement, protected loss, or impairment of a limb or organ function. These are types of injures that involve a long recovery period or may never heal fully. If you were involved in a hit and run that led to serious bodily injury to any driver or passenger, then you could be facing heavy penalties. They include:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to 15 years of probation.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death in Florida
Finally, if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, you will be charged with a first-degree felony. A prison sentence is mandatory if found guilty of this offense; penalties include:
- Between 4 and 30 years in prison.
- Up to 30 years of probation.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Driver’s License Revocation
In accordance with Florida Statute 316.027 and Florida Statute 322.0261, if you leave the scene of an accident that led to an injury and you are convicted, then you will have your driver’s license taken away for a minimum of three years.
You can apply for a hardship license, which would allow you to continue to drive, but only for work purposes. However, first, you will have to complete a 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement Course. If this is relevant to your case, your attorney can help you secure a hardship license.
Victim Injury Considerations
Florida’s sentencing guidelines are complex. When it comes to hit and run cases, the range of penalties varies widely. For example, if you are charged with a hit and run involving serious bodily injury, which is a felony of the second degree, you will face anywhere between 0 and 15 years in prison.
One of the methods used is victim injury points, which would result in a longer prison sentence, the worse the injures are. However, this type of sentencing is designed for a crime that caused an injury. In this case, leaving the scene was the crime, not the accident that causes the injures. Therefore, it can be argued that this method should not be used to justify a longer prison sentence. However, if leaving the scene resulted in a delay in medical treatment, which made the injuries worse, this method can be justified.
If your attorney cannot prevent a conviction., they will explore every avenue to minimize the consequences you could face. They will analyze the sentencing guidelines in your case and develop an aggressive defense strategy. Florida law is complex, but you do not need to face the legal system alone.
Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident
If you leave the scene of an accident in Florida, then the defense strategy will depend upon your case’s unique details. However, some common defenses include:
Lack of knowledge – To be charged with a hit and run, you must have had knowledge of it. The prosecution must prove that you knew an accident occurred and had reason to believe that there may have been an injury. Without such proof, you could have your conviction dropped to a lower charge, such as a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of the accident.
Physically unable to report – You yourself may have been injured in the accident or put into shock and were unable to report it.
Plea deal – Sometimes, your best option may be a plea deal. This is when you receive a lesser charge or escape a conviction in return for fulfilling an agreement. For example, a skilled attorney may be able to lessen your felony to a misdemeanor if you pay for any injuries and property damage caused by the accident and complete a driver safety course. In some situations, this may be the only way you can avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Your attorney will help you decide if this is a good option for you and won’t work out any such agreement unless you agree.
Collecting Evidence in Tampa
In Florida, the law dictates that law enforcement must arrest you if you are facing a potential felony. Therefore, if you were involved in an accident involving personal injury, you were likely taken to a local jail.
At this point, it is essential that you speak to a law firm, if not before. Preferably you will contact a lawyer as soon as you leave the scene, although we understand that you are probably not thinking rationally at this point. Regardless of your case’s circumstances, the sooner you seek legal advice, the better they will be able to gather evidence and advise you on your best course of action. This is why our phone lines are open 24/7.
It is also important that you are completely honest and transparent with your attorney. The more details they have about your case, the less likely it is that they will be caught off-guard by the prosecution. Remember, your attorney’s goal is to have your charge dismissed or reduced, and nothing you say to them can be used to make things worse for you. At The Law Place, the attorney-client relationship is at the heart of what we do, and we are here to support you no matter what.
When you contact The Law Place, we will get to work right away. With your permission, we will review your case as a team so that you can benefit from all of our knowledge and experience, and we can defend you from every possible angle.
A skilled defense attorney suited to your case will become your key point of contact and take responsibility for overseeing your case. They will look for video surveillance, witness statements, police reports, bar/restaurant receipts, mechanic reports, pictures of the damage, and anything else that could be relevant. If this is not done quickly, your defense may lose the opportunity to see it. Any piece of evidence could be important, as your attorney will look for any way to use it to your advantage. It could be the difference between a lower conviction, a dismissal, or maximum punishment.
Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer Before Hiring Them
When you are facing a potential felony, you need to secure quality representation quickly. If you decide on The Law Place, we have confidence that you have the best representation. However, we understand that you need to feel confident that you have done your research. Here are some questions that you could consider asking a potential law firm:
- Can I see some references from your previous clients?
- Have you handled similar cases to mine, and how successful were you at lessening your client’s charges or obtaining a dismissal?
- How many jury trials have you been successful at representing your clients in?
- What are your fees, and how will I pay?
- How successful have you been at working out plea bargains?
The first one is particularly important. Any good lawyer in Florida will give you references from happy clients who will help put your mind at ease. If they cannot provide this, then it should be a big red flag.
Contact The Law Place in Tampa Today
When a felony conviction is a possibility, you need a quality defense. At The Law Place, we will do all we can to develop an aggressive defense strategy. We will listen to your story and leave no stone unturned.
We pride ourselves on continually refining our skills inside and out of the courtroom. With a whole team of skilled attorneys for the price of one, you know that you have a skilled team on your side.
Hiring the right law firm could be one of the most important decisions of your life. We will do everything we can to ensure that your penalties are reduced or, if possible, get your charges dismissed entirely.
Our phone lines are open 24/7, so call us now for a free consultation on (941) 444-4444.