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Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Leaving the Scene of an Accident is commonly referred to as a "Hit and Run" and is a crime in Florida.

If accused of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Under Florida Statute 316.061, the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident occurs when a person:

  1. Is involved in an accident or crash with another person's property; such as a vehicle, building, or structure; and
  2. Willfully leaves the scene of the accident or crash without providing their name, address, registration information, and driver's license to the owner of the property.

If the owner of the property is not present to receive your information or cannot be readily located, you are required to report the accident or crash to the nearest law enforcement agency and provide your name, address, registration information, and driver's license.

Crash Involving Injury or Death

Under Florida Statute 316.027, if a person is involved in an accident or crash that results in injury or death to any person, including a passenger, the person is required to:

  1. Stop Immediately;
  2. Provide their name, address, registration information, and driver's license; and
  3. Render reasonable assistance to the injured or deceased person by transporting, or making arrangements for the transportation, of the person to a medical professional for treatment if it is apparent that treatment is needed or the person requests assistance.

If the person injured or deceased is not in a condition to receive your information or be transported, you are required to report the accident or crash to the nearest law enforcement agency as quickly as possible and provide your name, address, registration information, and driver's license.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident

The penalties for the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident increase based upon whether the accident or crash involved Property Damage, Personal Injury, or Death.

In Florida, Leaving the Scene of an Accident can be charged as:

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage

The crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage is a Second Degree Misdemeanor.

If convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Sixty (60) days in jail.
  • Six (6) months of probation.
  • A fine up to $500.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury

The crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury is a Third Degree Felony punishable as a Level 5 offense under Florida's sentencing guidelines.

If convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Five (5) years in prison.
  • Five (5) years of probation.
  • A fine up to $5,000.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death

The crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death is a First Degree Felony punishable as a Level 7 offense under Florida's sentencing guidelines.

If convicted of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death, a judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 21 months [1] in prison and can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Thirty (30) years in prison.
  • Thirty (30) years of probation.
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific or common defenses to the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident include:

Lack of Knowledge

While it should probably go without saying, knowledge of the accident is an essential element, as one cannot “willfully” leave an accident without awareness that an accident has occurred. This situation usually occurs where someone slightly hits a car while backing up, but does not feel the impact. Under this situation, one can argue they were unaware they ever impacted another vehicle. [2]

Likewise, to be convicted of the enhanced crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident causing Injury or Death, the prosecution must prove either actual or constructive knowledge of the injury or death. Without such proof, the most a person could be convicted of is misdemeanor Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

Physically Unable to Report

If, because of the crash or injury, you were rendered physically incapacitated and unable to report the crash or accident; you are exempt from fulfilling the requirement to leave your name, address, registration information, and driver's license to the owner of the property.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby

If you are charged with the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando metropolitan area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Sims v. State, 998 So. 2d 494 (Fla. 2008)
  2. State v. Mancuso, 652 So. 2d 370 (Fla. 1995)