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Hit & Run Accident Charges
(3 Types, Definition & Penalties Explained)

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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The amount of time you can be charged after a hit-and-run accident varies based on state laws and the seriousness of the accident, among other factors.

Nonetheless, regardless of whether it has been weeks or months since the incident, you could face both criminal and civil consequences if you were involved in a hit-and-run.

As an attorney with years of experience in hit-and-run cases, I will tell you everything you need to know about how long after a hit-and-run accident you can be charged.

Quick Summary

  • Hit-and-run accidents can result in criminal charges and penalties, which vary depending on the accident’s severity and the jurisdiction’s laws.
  • The penalties for a hit-and-run can include imprisonment, fines, driver’s license suspension, and restitution. You may also face a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences.
  • The severity of the consequences of a hit-and-run car accident can be greater if it results in injuries or fatalities. 

How Long After A Hit And Run Accident Can You Be Charged?

A close up shot of law concept imageThe amount of time after a hit-and-run accident that you can be charged depends on the laws of the jurisdiction where the accident took place.

You can be accused of a hit-and-run accident by prosecutors within one to three years after the incident, depending on whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. 

Misdemeanor hit-and-run car accidents have a one-year statute of limitations, while felony hit-and-runs have a three-year statute of limitations [1].

The time limit for filing a legal claim for hit-and-run accidents varies according to the jurisdiction’s laws:

  • The location of the accident
  • The charge is considered a misdemeanor or felony.

A hit-and-run can be considered a felony if:

  • A person has sustained major injuries
  • The accident led to the victim’s injuries
  • The property has been significantly damaged, and some individuals have suffered minor to moderate injuries.

A hit and run involve a person who is in a collision but:

  1. The individuals involved in the accident left without giving their contact information, such as driver’s license and vehicle registration.
  2. They don’t provide help to an injured person.

Related Article: Personal Injury & Accidents Lawsuits 

Types Of Hit-And-Run Accidents

A man crying in front of his car due to hit and run accident

The types of hit-and-run accidents are based on the severity of the crime and whether it resulted in property damage or injury.

  • Property Damage: When a hit-and-run driver causes damage to another person’s property, such as their vehicle, but doesn’t stop at the scene of the accident to exchange contact information, that is considered a hit-and-run with only property damage involved.
  • Injury: When a driver causes injury to another person in a hit-and-run accident, it is considered a felony, and the statute of limitations may be extended.
  • Fatal: The most serious type of hit-and-run accident involves fatalities. In this case, the statute of limitations does not apply, and the driver may be charged at any time.

Related Article: Hit and Run Investigation Process California

“In cases of hit and run car accidents, the statute of limitations varies based on if the accident was a misdemeanor or a felony.”
Andrew Ellis, Personal Injury Lawyer and Senior Partner at Ellis Law Corporation

When Will A Prosecutor Bring Hit And Run Charges?

A hit and run accident on the roadA prosecutor will bring hit-and-run charges when sufficient evidence proves that a driver was involved in a car accident and the scene without exchanging contact information. This includes witnesses, video footage, or physical evidence from the scene.

In most cases, the prosecutor must prove that the person was aware they were involved in a car accident and failed to stop or provide the necessary information. 

If the hit-and-run car accident resulted in serious injury or death, the prosecutor may bring more severe charges, such as vehicular manslaughter or homicide.

The severity of the charges will depend on the case’s specific circumstances and the jurisdiction’s laws.

Ultimately, the decision to bring hit-and-run charges lies with the prosecutor’s discretion. They will review all available evidence and determine if enough evidence supports a conviction.

The prosecutor may file charges and pursue the case through the criminal justice system if there is sufficient evidence.

Related ArticleHit and Run Parked Car

Criminal Penalties Of A Hit And Run

A close up shot of a man in handcuffs due to hit and run

The criminal penalties for a hit-and-run accident can vary depending on the severity of the accident and the laws of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

Potential penalties can include:

Please be aware that the penalties for a hit-and-run can differ significantly based on the incident’s particulars and the jurisdiction’s laws.

If you are in a hit-and-run accident, it is crucial to seek legal advice to comprehend your options and legal rights.

Related ArticleParental Liability in Teenage Car Accidents

When A Hit And Run Accident Results In Property Damage

When a hit-and-run accident results in property damage, the driver who caused the damage may face criminal charges and civil liability.

The law, Vehicle Code 20002 VC, states that it’s illegal for a driver to leave the accident scene where they caused damage to other vehicles or property without stopping and providing their information [2].

This is considered a misdemeanor hit and run. VC 20002 violation is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to six months 
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

When A Hit And Run Accident Results In Bodily Injuries Or Death

A child laying on the road after a hit and run accident

The law regarding felony hit and run is outlined in Vehicle Code 20001 VC. This law specifies that leaving the scene of a car accident where someone has been injured or killed is a criminal offense [3]. 

VC 20001 is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The punishment for a misdemeanor crime may include:

  • Imprisonment of up to one year and additional consequences
  • A maximum fine is between $1,000 and $10,000

If the offense is classified as a felony, the following punishment can be imposed:

  1. Jail time in state prison for up to four years and
  2. The maximum fine could be anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000.

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What Can I Do If I Am A Victim Of A Hit And Run Accident?

If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you can seek medical attention and contact the police to report the accident as soon as possible. 

What Is The Crime Of Hit And Run?

The crime of hit and run occurs when a driver is involved in an accident and leaves the scene without stopping to provide assistance or identify themselves. 

Why Do Some Motorists Leave The Scene?

Some motorists leave the scene because the driver may panic or be in shock and not realize the seriousness of the situation. They may also fear the consequences of staying at the location of the crime, such as facing criminal charges or being sued for damages.

In other cases, the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and not want to be caught by law enforcement.

Does Insurance Cover Hit And Run?

Yes, insurance does cover hit-and-run. If you collide with another vehicle or someone hits your car, collision coverage will cover the cost of repairing your vehicle regardless of who is at fault.

Were You Involved In A Hit And Run Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating, leaving victims with serious injuries, property damage, and emotional trauma.

If you have been a victim of a hit-and-run accident, it’s crucial to take steps to safeguard your rights and seek compensation that can help you with your recovery.

At Schmidt & Clark, LLP our experienced attorneys are here to help. You can schedule a free consultation with our experienced lawyers to discuss your case and explore your legal options. We are committed to advocating for your best interests and achieving a favorable outcome in your case.



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