Florida Criminal Traffic Attorneys
Have you been charged with leaving the scene of an accident under Florida statute 316.061?
If there were no injuries and only property damage, that makes this crime a misdemeanor. Meaning, that the maximum penalty includes probation, fines and the remote possibility of jail depending on the facts of your case and your previous criminal history. Aside from being a criminal misdemeanor, leaving the scene involving property damage could result in you getting 6 points on your driver’s license if you get adjudicated guilty. If we can negotiate a deal with the State Attorney for a withhold of adjudication, then you would not receive any points on your driver’s license. The State Attorney must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage. First, they have to establish that you were the driver of the vehicle. The inability to establish the driver of the vehicle is often a legal defense that can be explored because depending on the facts of your case there may not be a “real witness” that is able to establish that you were the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. The next element that has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt is the fact that there was an accident and the fact that there was property damage. Usually that’s not where the issues arise, as most of the time it’s with the fact that they can’t establish that you were the driver of the vehicle. Having done thousands of these types of cases, we are well aware that leaving the scene involving property damage will sometimes occur when an individual has been consuming alcohol and they panic because they think they might be charged with driving under the influence. If the facts of your case are similar to the above analogy, we would encourage you to call our office as there may be ways to resolve that case without some of the enhanced penalties that the State Attorney may be seeking if they find that sort of evidence that ties you to an alcohol-related leaving the scene of an accident charge.
Under current Florida statute, the State Attorney’s office is typically not entitled to restitution of leaving the scene of an accident. However, sometimes in the course of negotiation we will agree that our client’s insurance will pick up the damage to the other car or to the property damaged in hopes of getting a more favorable outcome on the criminal case.
Florida has an accident report privilege team that must be in our minds when we deal with leaving the scene of an accident charge. Florida’s accident report privilege is a very unique legal concept, is very much alive in Florida. That doctrine to answer the proposition that if you are involved in an accident and you are forthcoming to the law enforcement officer as how the accident occurred, then your statements to the police cannot be used against you in court. However, there’s case law which says that the accident report privilege doesn’t apply if you leave the scene of an accident you are not “in the protection of not having those statements used against you”. That’s why it’s more important than ever if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, regardless of whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, that you immediately contact a skilled traffic attorney. Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor under Florida law unless it involves injury. However, the officer has the discretion to either cite you with a notice to appear through the citation or to physically arrest you. You must understand that even though you may not get physically arrested it’s still a criminal charge and should be taken very seriously. Obviously if you are formally arrested and booked into jail for leaving the scene of an accident, this can be very serious. Not only on your criminal record for life, but a permanent blemish on your driving record. Remember that pleading no contest or guilty for a leaving the scene charge ends up as guilt on your permanent record, meaning you will have no opportunity to seal or
expunge this charge from your criminal background. We look forward to speaking with you about your leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage charge.