DC Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hit & Run / Fleeing Arrest

Auto accidents can be traumatic. Even if the accident merely dented your vehicle, that adrenaline rush that occurs immediately after impact can cloud your judgment. The moment of panic or bad judgement is often why people face charges of hit and run.

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Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense under DC law, and one that is taken quite seriously in the courts of Washington DC. If you stand accused of hit and run, you are certainly concerned about what this could mean for your future, and how you should handle this criminal accusation.

You stand to lose your license and could even go to jail if convicted for this charge. A criminal defense attorney can be critical in protecting your rights.

And there are legal defense options. If could be a case of mistaken identity if someone else was driving your car, or even if someone wrote down the wrong license plate. Or, if you truly make a mistake you regret, we can argue for a reduction in charges, restitution, and other non-criminal penalties to try to keep your record clean.

Either way, we can help. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.

Washington DC Traffic Accident – Duty to Stop

Under the District of Columbia statutes, you have a legal duty to stop following an auto accident. You must immediately stop your vehicle and exchange information with the other driver or with the police.

DC Criminal Hit & Run Charge

The penalty you face for failure to stop after an accident depends on the result of the accident and any prior criminal history.

If the accident results in injury and it’s your 1st such offense, you will face up to six months in jail and $500 in fines. However, if you have a prior conviction for this offense on your record, the potential penalty is elevated to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

If there is no injury but the accident results in property damage, you could face 30 days in jail and a $100 fine for your first offense. Prior convictions on your record can raise this potential penalty to 90 days in jail and $300 in fines.

  1. Any person operating a vehicle, who shall injure any person therewith, or who shall do substantial damage to property therewith and fail to stop and give assistance, together with his name, place of residence, including street and number, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle so operated, to the person so injured, or to the owner of such property so damaged, or to the operator of such other vehicle, or to any bystander who shall request such information on behalf of the injured person, or, if such owner or operator is not present, then he shall report the information above required to a police station or to any police officer within the District immediately. In all cases of accidents resulting in injury to any person, the operator of the vehicle causing such injury shall also report the same to any police station or police officer within the District immediately.
  2. Any operator whose vehicle causes personal injury to an individual and who fails to conform to the above requirements shall, upon conviction of the 1st offense, be fined not more than $500, or shall be imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both; and upon the conviction of his 2nd or subsequent offense, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or shall be imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
  3. Any operator whose vehicle causes substantial damage to any other vehicle or property and fails to conform to the above requirements, shall, upon conviction of the 1st offense, be fined not more than $100, or be imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both; and for the 2nd or any subsequent offense, be fined not more than $300, or be imprisoned not more than 90 days, or both.

Ref: DC Code §50-2201.05

Fleeing Law Enforcement/Arrest in a Vehicle

A similar charge is failing to stop after being signaled by the police. If you are charged with fleeing an arrest in a vehicle, you could face this criminal charge. The act must be intentional and therefore you must be aware that the police are trying to stop you in order for the prosecution to prove this offense.

Generally, fleeing law enforcement in a vehicle carries a fine reaching $1,000 and a potential 180 day jail sentence. However, if it’s found that you were driving recklessly at the same time, the charge can be elevated to a serious felony, carrying $5,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison.

There is a legal defense to this crime and that is being able to demonstrate that your failure to stop was based on a reasonable belief that your personal safety was at risk. Things like where the stop occurred, the kind of vehicle being operated by police, and other such details can be used in asserting this defense.

Ref: DC Code §50-2201.05b

These charges are serious blemishes on your record, should you be convicted. In addition to fines and jail time, you could lose your driving privileges.

It’s now more than ever that you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case and to discuss your options.

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