The Crime of Felony Hit and Run Causing Injury - VC 20001
California Vehicle Code 20001 VC describes felony hit and run with injury. This statute makes it a serious crime to leave the scene of an accident when someone was injured or killed.
It should be noted it doesn't matter if you were not at fault for causing the accident.
This means you could still be charged with VC 20001, hit and run felony, if another person caused the collision and you fled the scene.
Felony hit and run causing injury under Vehicle Code 20001 VC is defined as:
- “Any driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to another person, other than themselves, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident...”
The closely related statute of California Vehicle Code 20002 defines the misdemeanor crime of hit and run.
This law requires vehicle drivers who were involved in an accident to stop and exchange contact and insurance information.
In simple terms, it's a crime flee the scene of a vehicle accident. If the collision resulted in injuries to another person, then failing to stop could be filed as a felony case under Vehicle Code 20001 VC.
If the accident only caused some property damage but there are no injuries, then the case will be filed as a VC 20002 misdemeanor hit and run.
A few common examples of violations of VC 20001 felony hit and run charges:
- Striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk and immediately flee the scene
- DUI driver involved in a serious accident and quickly drives away
To give readers more useful information about felony hit and run with injuries law under VC 20001, our Los Angeles criminal attorneys are providing review below.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove for a VC 20001 Conviction?
In order to obtain a conviction for felony hit and run charges as defined under Vehicle Code 20001 VC, the prosecutor has to prove several crucial factors.
These factors are known as the “elements of the crime” and they are listed under CALCRIM 2140 Jury Instructions.
- Defendant was driving and involved in an accident
- The accident caused an injury or death to another person
- Defendant knew, or should have reasonably known, they were involved in an accident that injured or killed another person
- Defendant willfully failed to immediately stop at the scene, or provide reasonable assistance to injured person, or give someone their personal information at the scene of accident
It should be noted that “willfully” simply means the act was on purpose and there is no intent requirement.
The related California offenses for Vehicle Code 20001 include:
- Vehicle Code 20002 VC – misdemeanor hit and run
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC – driving under the influence
- Vehicle Code 23153 VC – DUI causing injury
- Penal Code 191.5 PC – vehicular manslaughter
What are the Penalties for VC 20001 Felony Hit and Run?
California Vehicle Code 20001 is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
Prosecutors have broad discretion in pursuing hit and run offenses.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run, the penalties include:
- Up to one year in the county jail
- A fine up to $1,000
If you are convicted of a felony hit and run, the penalties include:
- Maximum punishment of four years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
It should be noted that the judge has the discretion to impose felony probation rather than time in prison.
Prefiling Intervention for Hit and Run Cases
As you can see above, the penalties for a felony hit and run case are much more severe, meaning effective prefiling intervention by an experienced criminal lawyer is crucial.
Even in a hit and run case with injuries, the prosecutor who is reviewing the case might be convinced to file only misdemeanor charges which would eliminate the risk of state prison time.
In order to increases the chances of a successful prefiling intervention, our Los Angeles criminal attorneys will prepare and present mitigating information about defendant's character and background.
We can also show there was timely upfront restitution payments for medical expenses, property damage, or other losses suffered by the victim.
How Can I Fight Felony Hit and Run Charges?
If you were charged with VC 20001 felony hit and run, our criminal lawyers can use a wide range on strategies to obtain best possible outcome, such as:
- Insufficient evidence someone was injured
- Defendant waited at the scene
- Defendant was not the driver
- It wasn't safe to stop at the scene of accident
- False allegation
Depending on the circumstances, we might be able to make an argument you did make a good faith attempt to wait at the scene of the accident in order to make contact with the other party.
In some cases, we might be able to make an argument that you were legitimately unaware that any collision occurred, such as a situation where the actual contact between the two vehicles was minor.
Since most hit and runs are a situation where the suspected driver has left the scene of the accident, the prosecutor could find it difficult to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
In some borderline cases, we might able to get the felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor or even a case dismissal.
If you or a family member were involved in an accident and facing VC 20001 felony hit and run charges, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers for an initial consultation.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Our main office is next to the Van Nuys Superior Court located at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.
Contact our firm at (877) 781-1570.