Hit and Run Defense Attorney in Virginia
The law in Virginia requires all drivers to stop at the scene of a crash and exchange information with all other people involved. Drivers must also report the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Failing to stop after an accident constitutes the offense of hit and run. The charge can carry serious consequences – especially if the accident involved injury or death.
If you have been charged with a hit and run in Virginia, you need to understand your legal rights and options and the potential outcome of your charges. Virginia hit and run defense attorney Samantha Upton can provide straightforward advice about what you can do to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future. Upton Law, LLC focuses exclusively on cases involving traffic violations and criminal charges. Samantha will be ready to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf.
For a free and confidential case review, contact Upton Law, PLLC today.
What Is Considered a Hit and Run in Virginia?
Virginia Code § 46.2-894 establishes a driver’s legal obligation to stop at or return to the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving injury or death or damage to attended or occupied property. The statute specifically states that:
“The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident in which a person is killed or injured or in which an attended vehicle or other attended property is damaged shall immediately stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic.”
The driver must then report the driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to:
- State police or a local law enforcement agency, or
- The person struck and injured if the person appears to be capable of understanding and retaining the information, or
- The driver or some other occupant of the other vehicle involved in the collision
Additionally, a driver must render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident. The statute allows a driver injured in an accident to comply with the requirements of the statute as soon as practical following the crash.
If the crash involves an unattended vehicle or unattended property, the driver must make a reasonable attempt to find the owner of the property and report the accident. If the owner cannot be found, the driver must leave his or her contact information in a conspicuous place at the scene of the accident. The driver must then report the accident within 24 hours to state or local police.
So, a person may be charged with committing a hit and run if the driver fails to:
- Stop at or return to the scene of an accident
- Report the crash to state or local police or exchange information with the occupants of the other vehicles or the owner of property involved in the accident
Finally, Virginia Code § 46.2-895 makes it illegal for a passenger 16 years old or older in a vehicle that fails to stop for an accident that results in another person’s injury or death to fail to report the accident to law enforcement if the passenger believes the driver of the vehicle has not reported the crash to police.
Why You Need to Talk to a Lawyer as Soon as Possible After a Hit and Run
If you have been accused of leaving the scene of a car crash without exchanging information with the other vehicle occupants or property owners involved, you need to speak to a Virginia hit and run defense attorney as soon as possible. If your accident involved unattended property, you might be able to avoid criminal charges. However, you should speak to an attorney before deciding to report an accident that you failed to stop for, as your report may later be used against you in criminal prosecution.
Speaking to a hit-and-run defense attorney as soon as possible after an accident may also prove critical to building an effective legal defense strategy. If you fled the scene of a car accident, the police will investigate the crash to try to identify you. A lawyer can advise you on your best course of action even before criminal charges are filed against you for a hit-and-run accident.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Hit and Run
Under Virginia Code § 46.2-894, a hit and run will be charged as a:
- Class 1 misdemeanor if the accident only results in property damage of $1,000 or less
- Class 5 felony if the accident results in more than $1,000 of property damage or in bodily injury or death
Under Virginia Code § 46.2-896, a driver who fails to make a reasonable effort to find the owner of the unattended property or leave contact information after a crash involving unattended property can be charged with a:
- Class 4 misdemeanor if the accident results in less than $250 of damage
- Class 1 misdemeanor if the property damage is valued between $250 and $1,000
- Class 5 felony if the accident results in more than $1,000 of property damage
Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction
A hit-and-run conviction may result in potentially serious consequences depending on the grading of the charges. Penalties for a Virginia hit and run conviction may include:
- Class 5 felony – Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500
- Class 1 misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
- Class 4 misdemeanor – Fine of up to $250
Additionally, a conviction can result in the suspension of driving privileges for a period of six months to one year. The Virginia DMV will also impose points on the offender’s driving record, with the exact number of points dependent on the circumstances of the accident, including the value of property damage or whether anyone was injured or killed.
Hit and Run Defense Options
You may have potential defenses available to you that can lead to your hit and run charges being reduced or dropped altogether, including:
- Showing that you left contact information at the scene of an accident involving the unattended property. For example, you may have evidence that you left a note under a windshield wiper (which may have been blown away by the wind before the vehicle’s owner returned).
- Challenging whether your vehicle was involved in the underlying accident, or whether you were the driver of the vehicle when it got into the crash.
- Establishing the value of the property damage from the accident, which can help to reduce the severity of your charge.
- Challenging the admissibility of the prosecution’s evidence.
Talk to a Virginia Hit and Run Defense Attorney Now
If you have been charged with a hit and run in Richmond or elsewhere in Virginia, you may face serious consequences in the event of a conviction. Don’t wait another day to speak to a seasoned Virginia hit-and-run defense attorney. When you work with Upton Law, PLLC, you can count on receiving an honest assessment of your case and a thorough explanation of how an attorney can help. Samantha Upton will lay out all your options for fighting the charges against you and minimizing the potential consequences. Contact us online or call Upton Law, PLLC today to get started with a free and confidential consultation.