Hit & Run Defense Lawyer in Richmond, VA
Drivers in Richmond must stop as soon as possible after hitting another vehicle, piece of property, or person. Failing to stop or report the collision to a law enforcement agency constitutes a hit and run crime. Committing a hit and run is a serious offense in Virginia, and it is aggressively investigated and prosecuted.
Don’t wait to get the straightforward legal advice you need if you have been charged with a hit and run. Contact Richmond hit and run defense lawyer Samantha Upton today for a free case review. You can trust Samantha to provide an honest assessment of your case and guidance on how to protect yourself if you have been charged with this criminal offense.
What Is Considered a Hit and Run?
Virginia law requires drivers to stop as soon as possible following a crash or accident, exchange information with others involved, and report the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Virginia Code § 46.2-894 imposes criminal liability upon a driver who causes property damage or personal injury in a collision and fails to:
- Stop as close as possible to the scene of the crash without interfering with traffic or jeopardizing the safety of others.
- Render assistance to anyone injured in the accident by, at a minimum, calling for emergency medical services.
- Exchange information, including names, contact information, driver’s license, and vehicle information with other parties involved in the accident or make a report with the state police or local police department.
- Make a report with the state police or local police department.
If a motorist is too injured to comply with these requirements at the scene of the accident, the statute requires that the driver do so as soon as possible following the crash.
Virginia Code § 46.2-896 also requires drivers who hit unattended property such as a parked vehicle to make a reasonable attempt to locate the owner of the damaged property. The driver must furnish the required information or, at a minimum, leave the required information in a conspicuous place for the property owner to find. The driver must also report the crash to law enforcement.
Passengers in a vehicle that engages in a hit and run may also have a legal obligation to file a report. Virginia Code § 46.2-895 requires any passenger 16 years or older to file a crash report with the police within 24 hours if they believe that a driver who failed to stop at the scene of a collision has not reported the accident to law enforcement.
Why You Need to Talk to a Lawyer As Soon As Possible After a Hit and Run in Richmond
If you believe you may have committed a hit and run in Richmond, you need to speak to a hit and run defense lawyer as soon as possible. The police will continue to try to identify a hit and run driver. If they do manage to locate the driver, that driver will almost certainly be arrested and charged.
Although you may be tempted to try to avoid criminal prosecution by reporting an accident that you failed to stop for, you should speak to an attorney before filing an accident report. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and how much time has passed, you may still be subject to criminal liability for hit and run. Anything you include in a subsequent accident report may be used against you in your prosecution.
At Upton Law, PLLC, experienced Richmond hit and run defense attorney Samantha Upton can help you by:
- Advising you on filing a report or speaking to the police about the accident
- Helping you understand the possible consequences and outcomes from a hit and run charge in your case
- Identifying all possible defenses that you can raise to challenge the hit and run charge against you
- Negotiating for a reduction in the severity of your charges or even an outright dismissal
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Hit and Run
Whether a hit and run gets charged as a misdemeanor or felony will depend on factors such as whether:
- The accident involved damage to property or personal injury or death
- Any damaged property was attended or occupied at the time of the crash
- The value of any property damage
A hit and run will be charged as a Class 4 misdemeanor if the accident results in up to $250 of damage to unattended property. The offense is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor if the accident involves property damage worth more than $250 to unattended property, or property damage of up to $1,000 involving attended property. Finally, a hit and run may be charged as a Class 5 felony if the accident results in more than $1,000 to attended property or results in injury or death.
Penalties for Hit and Run Convictions
Penalties for a hit and run conviction will depend on the grading of the charge. Possible sentences include:
- Class 5 felony – Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500, in addition to possible revocation of driving privileges for up to one year
- Class 1 misdemeanor – Up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, along with a possible suspension of one’s driver’s license for up to six months
- Class 4 misdemeanor – A fine of up to $250.
Of course, a hit and run conviction can have other long-term consequences, including increases in your auto insurance premiums or even the cancellation or non-renewal of your policy. Having a criminal record can also impact your ability to secure employment, education, or housing opportunities.
Hit and Run Defense Options
Even when you have been arrested on a hit and run offense, you may have factual and legal defenses available to you to contest your charges, such as:
- Identity – You may have alibi evidence proving you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Proof of compliance – If you collided with unattended property, you might present evidence that you attempted to locate the owner and left the required information for them to find.
- Proof of knowledge – You might challenge the prosecution’s claim that you knew you had been involved in a collision.
- Evidence of the damage value – Proving that a lower value of property damage occurred may result in a reduction of the grading of your charge.
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested After a Hit and Run
If you have been arrested for a hit and run in Richmond, take the following steps to help protect your legal rights and options:
- Exercise your right to remain silent. You don’t have to answer any questions from the police or offer any statements until you have had a chance to speak to an attorney. If you are arrested and taken to the police station on a hit and run charge, ask to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
- Write down your recollection of the events surrounding the accident. Note everything you remember about the collision, including where you stopped, who you talked to, whether and where you may have left your information, whether you reported the accident to law enforcement, and who you may have spoken to at the police department about the accident.
- Finally, talk to Richmond hit and run defense lawyer Samantha Upton as soon as possible. The criminal justice system moves quickly after you have been arrested. You may not have much time to take action to prepare a legal defense. The sooner you get a qualified lawyer on your side, the better.
Talk to a Richmond Hit and Run Defense Lawyer Now
When you are facing a hit and run charge, don’t leave your rights and interests to chance. Get the straightforward legal advice and experienced representation you need to help you pursue the best possible outcome. Contact Upton Law, PLLC today for a free and confidential consultation.
You will be quoted a flat fee upfront. So, you will know how much your case will cost no matter how often you need to speak with your lawyer and how much legal work goes into your case. Get started today.