Hit And Run Attorney in Fairfax, VA
Fairfax Hit and Run Attorney
Frequently, individuals in Virginia face charges for failing to stop at an accident scene, as outlined in the VA Code Hit and Run (46.2-894). This is a common occurrence where people often leave the scene to avoid potential self-incrimination and escape liability and responsibility. Alternatively, some may unknowingly hit someone and proceed with their day, oblivious to the incident. Irrespective of the circumstances, departing from the scene of an accident, commonly known as a “hit and run” in Fairfax County, carries significant legal consequences. However, it’s crucial to note that strong defenses are available in many instances, making the retention of a skilled Fairfax hit-and-run attorney imperative. Our expertise in navigating the court system can be a substantial asset in these situations.
Failure to Stop at an Accident Involving Injury or Property Damage
Under VA Code §46.2-894, it is mandatory for an individual involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person or damage to an attended vehicle to take specific actions. When such an accident occurs, the involved person must immediately come to a stop as close to the accident scene as possible. They must provide certain information, including their name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration.
This information should be shared with either the police at the scene, the person who was struck, or a passenger in the struck vehicle, provided the driver cannot comprehend the situation. If the driver cannot fulfill these requirements due to injury, the law mandates contacting the police promptly to ensure compliance with this statute.
If an individual leaves the accident scene without complying with these statutory obligations, and the incident results in injury or property damage exceeding $1000, it is considered a Class 5 Felony, commonly called Felony Hit and Run in Virginia. As per §18.2-10 of the Virginia Code, the penalties for Felony Hit and Run can include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $2500.
In cases with no injury and the property damage is $1000 or less, the offense is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A Class 1 Misdemeanor carries potential penalties of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2500 (see §18.2-11).
Furthermore, if the property damage exceeds $500, the Court may exercise the authority to suspend the individual’s driver’s license for up to six months.
Passenger’s Involvement in an Accident
In cases where a passenger is caught up in an accident, the Virginia hit-and-run law mandates that they promptly report the incident to the authorities or ensure that it gets reported within a 24-hour window from the time of the accident. This report should include the passenger’s name, address, and other pertinent information stipulated under §46.2-894. Consequently, being a passenger involved in an accident is responsible for ensuring proper documentation.
The consequences for a passenger involved in an accident vary based on the extent of the incident. If the accident leads to injury or loss of life, the passenger may face a Class 6 Felony charge (refer to §18.2-10). In cases where there is no bodily harm, but property damage is involved, the charge is reduced to a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Lastly, when the property damage is valued at less than $250, it results in a Class 4 Misdemeanor. It’s essential to remember that, even in their capacity as a passenger, the court retains the authority to suspend the driver’s license for up to six months if the property damage exceeds $500.
Duty to Address Property Damage in Unattended Incidents
In situations where no bodily harm has occurred, and there is damage solely to property or a vehicle left unattended, Virginia Code §46.2-896 imposes an obligation to locate the owner and provide them with specific details. This includes sharing your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration. However, if the owner cannot be located, there is an alternative responsibility: leaving a note containing your contact information and contacting the police within 24 hours. It’s essential to note that this obligation also applies to any passengers present in the vehicle responsible for damaging the unattended property. These instances typically revolve around scenarios such as collisions with parked cars where the owner is absent.
Defense Strategies for Fairfax Virginia Hit and Run Offenses
The prosecution must establish several key elements to secure a conviction in cases involving hit-and-run offenses. These elements include identifying the driver, demonstrating injury or property damage, establishing the Defendant’s knowledge of the injury or damage, and proving that they failed to comply with the statutory requirements for reporting the accident.
Fairfax hit-and-run cases often present opportunities for strong defenses. The primary focus often revolves around the driver’s identification, as the failure to stop at the accident scene can obscure this crucial detail. For instance, merely establishing that the vehicle involved is registered to a specific individual does not necessarily confirm their role as the driver; they may have allowed someone else to use the vehicle on the date in question.
Furthermore, the quality and quantity of information provided at the accident scene can also be pivotal in crafting a defense. Many individuals do stop at the scene and cooperate by providing whatever information they can. In fact, this cooperation is often how their identification and subsequent court proceedings come about. It begs the question: If they were attempting to evade responsibility, why would they stop and offer information in the first place?