Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Injury
Florida is a state built with the automobile in mind. Our cities are spread out and linked by a system of highways, and our state has one of the worst public transportation systems in the country. Partly because of the prevalence of motor vehicles, automobile crimes have become one of the most common offenses charge. Because traffic accidents are so common, offenses involving crashes are also very common. Because car crashes are often scary and traumatic experiences, people often flee from accident scenes in the heat of the moment. If you find yourself in this situation and are facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident, you should immediately contact a St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer.
Leaving the scene of an accident on its own is a relatively minor misdemeanor offense. Things become more complicated when someone involved in the accident claims injuries. If a person involved in a hit and run suffers even a minor injury, the other driver may be charged with the third degree felony offense of leaving the scene of an accident with injury.Elements of Leaving the Scene With Injury
The criminal offense of leaving the scene of a crash with injury is an enhanced version of the less serious leaving the scene involving property damage. The State must first prove that an accident occurred and that one of the parties involved in the accident left the scene without providing contact information and, if anyone was injured, without providing aid to the injured party. You may be charged with leaving the scene with injuries even if extremely minor injuries are claimed. There is no threshold for the types of injuries that qualify, so if someone suffers a minor bruise, cut or back pain, you can still be charged with this enhanced felony offense.
Leaving the scene with serious bodily injury is even further enhanced. If a person involved in the crash is seriously injured, you can be charged with a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years prison. Serious bodily injury is better defined and typically refers to injuries that result in permanent disfigurement and disability. Often, the police and prosecution will over charge defendants with leaving the scene with serious bodily injury even if the injuries suffered are relatively minor. You should contact a dedicated St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyer to protect you from overzealous prosecution.Defenses for Leaving the Scene With Injury
Luckily, there are often strong defenses to leaving the scene of a crash with injury. An experienced lawyer can investigate claims made by the injured party to determine whether they were truly injured or not. Often people involved in accidents will make false or questionable claims about injuries in order to secure payments from their auto insurance policies. A thorough investigation can expose the falsity of claims like these.
In situations where the injuries are real, defenses still exist. Leaving the scene with injuries is what is known as a specific intent crime. This means that the prosecution must not only prove that you left the scene of a crash and that there were injuries, but must also prove your knowledge. In order to secure a conviction, the state must present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or should have known that someone was injured in the accident. They can sometimes prove this element by showing that an accident was so severe that it would clearly result in injuries. Most often, however, this element is proven by using the defendant’s own words against them. During hit and run investigations, detectives will often contact you and try to get you to make a statement about the facts of the case. It is critical that you never speak to the police without first consulting with an attorney. Your own statement is often the strongest piece of evidence against you in a leaving the scene case.Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with or are under investigation for leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, you should contact the experienced St. Petersburg traffic criminal lawyers at Hanlon Law today. We have the skills and resources necessary to develop the best defense for you. Call us now at (727) 897-5413.