Is Hit And Run A Misdemeanor Or Felony?
Do you need help deciphering whether or not a hit and run is a misdemeanor or a felony? If so, you’re in the right place. Laws in the United States can be difficult to interpret, especially if more than one classification can be applied to the same incident. Let’s run through what kind of charges one could be hit with if involved in a hit and run incident.
Hit and run can be a misdemeanor or felony. Most hit and run cases are misdemeanors. Hit and run is a felony when the person who committed the hit and run, causes death or serious bodily injury which is a direct result of the accident, and when the driver knew or should have known that death or serious bodily injury has occurred. The penalty for felony hit and run includes jail time of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $5000. This is a very serious charge. Judges will typically order a sentence of prison time instead of probation, if convicted.
What Is A Hit And Run?
A hit and run is a criminal offense involving a vehicle collision to something or someone, and fleeing the scene afterwards. Each state of the United States has their own classifications and punishments for hit and run incidents.
In the United States, failure to exchange personal and insurance information, or contact authorities can result in criminal charges brought against the operator of the vehicle involved in a hit and run incident. Hit and runs can result in the damage of another vehicle, property, a person, or an animal. Regardless of how it happened, if you find yourself involved in a traffic collision, and leave the scene afterwards, you could be faced with charges that result in short or long-term consequences and range in severity depending on the type of charge brought against you: misdemeanor or felony.
PRO TIP: Read up on what to do if you get pulled over without a license in our recent blog post!
Is A Hit And Run A Misdemeanor Charge Or A Felony Charge
What Is A Misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is the classification of a criminal wrongdoing that is less serious in nature as compared to a felony. Generally speaking, misdemeanors are applied to hit and run incidents that do not cause harm to individuals, and result in vehicle or property damage. This would be like side swiping the mirror of a parked car and driving off.
So, what should you do if you find yourself in a situation such as this?
- Pull over and examine the damage. Check both your vehicle and whatever object was hit, including the surrounding area.
- Take photos to show proof of the damage, as well as the condition of the scene.
- Write down the details: location, time, what and who was involved, what damages are noted, and weather and road conditions.
- Try to find the owner of whatever it was that was damaged. If not successful, leave a detailed note with your personal information. Include your name, phone number, license plate number, and email or home address.
- Contact local authorities and your insurance to report the accident. Be open and honest to avoid further legal issues.
Hit and run incidents involving vehicle or property damage typically result in a misdemeanor charge. Depending on the state, misdemeanor charges can end in a fine, jail time of less than a year, suspension of driving privileges, and/or points to your driving record. Either way, much less serious in nature. But, what if you find yourself in a serious hit and run situation? The consequences could be far worse.
What Is A Felony?
A felony is a more serious criminal act, typically violent in nature resulting in injury or the death of an individual. In the case of a felony, the punishment can result in prison time not less than a year, revoked driving privileges, and/or a criminal record. Again, the classifications and punishments will vary by state. For example, if a hit and run ends tragically, such as in the death of an individual, the operator of the vehicle could be charged with an offense such as vehicular manslaughter. Again, regardless of how the accident happened, if it involves a person or animal, there is a legal obligation to help, and ultimately report it.
So, what should you do if you’re involved in a vehicle collision with a person?
- Don’t flee the accident. Stop your vehicle, assess the scene, and immediately dial 9-1-1. Let the professionals examine and assess injuries.
- When the police arrive, file a report. As long as there are not life threatening injuries, exchange personal and insurance information with the victim.
- Report the accident to your insurance. In some cases, contact a lawyer.
If you are witness to a hit and run involving injury to another person, contact emergency services. When police arrive, provide as many details as possible to assist the police in their search for the offender. No detail is too small.
Felonies are much more serious crimes than misdemeanors. Practicing safe driving and following traffic laws can help one to avoid a hit and run.
Conclusion: Is Hit And Run A Misdemeanor Or Felony?
The act of a hit and run is a crime regardless of the state you reside in. Failure to provide proper paperwork, such as insurance information, and fleeing the scene can result in charges being brought against you. Misdemeanors are less serious in nature, typically involving vehicle or property damage whereas felonies are criminal offenses resulting in injury or death to an individual. In either event, the consequences could negatively impact your driving record, and in serious cases, your life. Accidents happen, but to avoid legal percussions of a vehicle collision, never run. The outcome of a hit and run determines if the incident could result in misdemeanor or felony.
Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney If You Are Facing Hit And Run Charges
The bottom line is that if you are facing hit and run charges it’s crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney such as Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney. Explore his practice areas here and contact him today.
Failing to do so will deprive you of accurately knowing your rights. In addition, your charges will be drastically lessened by hiring a criminal attorney.
We hope you now better understand our article on is hit and run a misdemeanor or a felony and we wish you all the best.