Hit and Run VC 20002 San Diego California

When you are involved in a car accident in San Diego California, leaving the scene of the accident can lead to criminal charges under California’s Vehicle Code (Hit and Run VC 20002). This can be the case even if the accident didn’t involve any wrongdoing. If you are accused of leaving the accident scene, especially if you are the vehicle owner, you may now be facing hit-and-run charges.

At Elite Criminal Defense, we know how harmful even a misdemeanor hit and run charge can be for your future. Fortunately, a hit and run criminal defense attorney can help. Our team is ready to help you understand California hit and run laws and your legal options.

VC 20002a Misdemeanor ‘Hit & Run’ Charges in California

When you’re in an auto accident, California law requires you to exchange information with the other parties involved in the crash. That information includes your vehicle registration, driver’s license, or other identifying information. If you fail to do so, you may be charged with a hit and run. A hit and run is usually a misdemeanor in California, meaning that the penalty is not generally as severe as the penalty would be for a felony. However, as explained below, it can be a felony depending on whether there were physical injuries to the other parties.

The Definition of VC 20002

You might think of a hit and run as when a car hits a pedestrian and doesn’t stop to help. However, in California, a hit and run has a much broader definition. California law states that anyone involved in a collision with property, another car, or another person, must stop and exchange information with the person in charge of that property. Or, the law also provides that if you hit a parked car (or other property) and can’t locate the owner, you must leave an obvious note for the owner with your information.

Traffic Accident

Examples of Hit and Run

Here are a few examples of what would constitute a hit and run:

You are driving late at night on a winding road. A squirrel runs out into the road and you swerve to avoid hitting it. When you swerve, you hit someone’s mailbox, damaging it. You keep driving because you figure that’s better than waking up the owner of the mailbox.

You and another car have a fender bender. It wasn’t your fault, so you don’t stop and exchange information with the other driver.

You hit a parked car in a parking lot. You waited around, looked inside the store, but finally left without leaving a note. 

These could all be misdemeanor hit and runs.

San Diego California Hit and Run

In San Diego, California, the legal consequences of a hit-and-run offense can be severe, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the incident. California Vehicle Code sections 20001 and 20002 outline the duties of drivers involved in an accident, requiring them to stop, provide their information, and assist the injured. Failure to comply can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. Hiring a local experience attorney to help navigate these complex legal waters is critical to help minimize the impact. Elite Criminal Defense, has experience representing these cases in San Diego county, and has successfully defended those accused of hit-and-run offenses. Our in-depth understanding of local San Diego courts enable us to provide effective representation, aiming to reduce or dismiss charges where possible.

Lawyer and client negotiation in legal judgement consulting.

When Is a Hit-and-Run a Misdemeanor in California?

In California, the differences between a misdemeanor and felony hit and run are fairly simple. If you damage property (like a car, a light post, a mailbox, etc.), the hit and run is a misdemeanor.

More specifically, to be convicted of a hit and run, the prosecution will need to show that:

  • You had an auto accident while driving
  • You damaged someone else’s car or other property
  • You knew or should have known you were in a collision that damaged property
  • You purposefully didn’t stop and exchange information

As discussed in more detail below, these elements of the crime also correspond with several defenses your attorney may raise on your behalf.

When Is a Hit-and-Run a Felony in California?

On the other hand, if a person is injured or dies as a result of the accident, the hit and run could be a felony. For example:

  • You have an auto accident. A person in the other vehicle is injured, but you drive away without speaking to the other driver.
  • You are in a parking lot and run over someone’s foot. You speed away.
  • You hit a biker at an intersection and fail to stop.
A close up of a traffic collision report.

Penalties for Hit and Run VC 20002

When you hear about criminal penalties, you may just be thinking about jail time. But the penalties for a hit and run can include jail time, prison time, fines, points on your driving record, or even orders to complete restitution. 

For a misdemeanor hit and run that only causes property damage, you would face up to six months in jail, up to $1000 in fines, potentially 2 points added to your driving record, and you may have to give restitution for the property you damaged. 

If you’re involved in a hit and run that causes an injury but you are still only charged with a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail or up to $10,000 in fines. 

Finally, if you are charged with a felony, you are looking at between 2 and 4 years in a state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Are There Legal Defenses to VC 20002?

If you are charged with a hit and run, you may be wondering what a lawyer can really do for you. At Elite Criminal Defense, our lawyers can help you evaluate whether

You didn’t actually damage any property

First, the prosecution can’t convict you without proving there was property damage. For example, if you were charged with a hit and run for an auto collision, it’s possible the other car wasn’t damaged. Or the damage to the other vehicle is actually from a previous accident.

You didn’t know you hit anything

In some situations, you may not have noticed the collision at all. For example, it’s possible that while driving your vehicle in a loud thunderstorm, you lightly scraped another parked car without noticing. Depending on the facts of your case, you might be able to use this defense to get your charges dropped.

You weren’t the driver

Many cars on the road look similar, and that can unfortunately lead to mistakes of identity. Someone struck by a white sedan, for example, may unfairly point to you despite many vehicles matching that description. Or, it’s possible that the vehicle was yours, but that you weren’t driving.

Because each case is different, it’s important to reach out to an attorney to evaluate whether you can mount a strong defense to a Hit and Run VC 20002 charge.

Related Offenses

Hit and runs are just one of many auto-related crimes in California.  It can be difficult to navigate these charges without legal advice from an experienced law office.

California Vehicle Code – VC 12500 – Driving Without a License

If a police officer finds you behind the wheel without a valid driver’s license, you may face legal penalties. These may vary between an infraction with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which may incur a fine, or a misdemeanor, which can lead to fines and time in a county jail.

California Vehicle Code – VC 23152 – Driving Under the Influence

Driving home after a night out with friends can alter the course of your life. You may not know that you can be charged with a DUI even if you are below the limit of .08 blood alcohol concentration, which is the commonly known legal limit. There are a huge range of penalties which depend on whether it’s your first offense and other circumstances.

California Vehicle Code – VC 20001- Felony Hit and Run

Felony hit and runs differ from Hit and Run VC 20002 in that they involve injury or death of another person. The penalties are usually higher fines and potentially more jail time than the misdemeanor discussed above.

California Vehicle Code – VC 23153 – DUI with Injury

If you’re driving under the influence and cause an injury, you could be charged with this crime as a felony or misdemeanor. In some cases, you could serve up to 4 years in prison if convicted.

California Vehicle Code – VC 23109(c) – Exhibition of Speed

Exhibition of speed is a legal term that includes behaviors like street racing and peeling out and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, fines, and even the loss of your license.

Connect with a Criminal Defense Lawyer 

When the driver of a vehicle leaves a vehicle accident scene, they may face penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 20002. If someone suffered bodily injury in the accident, your case may be even more serious. Reach out to Elite Criminal Defense to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. We can help you figure out the best path forward, help you mount a strong legal defense, and get your life back on track.

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