Being involved in an auto accident isn’t something that people plan on when they start their day. Unfortunately, since statistics show that the average driver will file an auto accident claim once every 17.9 years, it’s obvious that most of us will be involved in one at some point in our lives. Most accidents don’t often involve serious criminal charges, but in California, if a person decides to flee the scene of an accident, they can face very detrimental consequences.
Failing to stop after an Accident
California law dictates several things that a person is required to do after an auto accident. If other drivers are injured, for instance, the driver must provide all of their contact information (including residency information and vehicle registration) to other accident victims and police officers. If a person leaves the scene of an accident without doing this, they may be guilty of failure to stop at the scene of that accident.
It should be noted that there are various levels of hit-and-run incidents. The law is much harsher on individuals who flee when another person is injured than it is on individuals who sneak off after causing property damage. In some instances, a driver may end up spending considerable time in prison after one of these events.
Bail for Hit and Run Accidents
Individuals who leave the scene of an accident that causes injury or death are usually eligible for bail. The preset bail amounts can vary substantially between California counties, since each individual county is allowed to set its own bail schedule. Some counties, though, have very similar amounts.
Los Angeles and Santa Cruz Counties, for instance, both set their bail amounts for fleeing an accident where an injury occurred at $10,000. Sacramento County, on the other hand, has a substantially higher bail amount of $25,000. In California, bail bond agencies are able to secure an individual’s release for a maximum of 10 percent of the face bail amount, which means a person could likely get out for $2,500.
It should be noted, though, that if serious injury or death occurred due to the accident, this amount will jump to $75,000. If a death can be considered manslaughter, on the other hand, such as when drunk driving is involved, this amount goes much higher to $100,000.
Criminal Penalties for Hit and Run
The criminal penalties for hit-and-run accidents can also vary greatly depending upon the exact situation. If a non-serious injury occurred, a person could face a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If death or permanent injuries occurred, however, the fleeing individual may end up in prison for up to four years.
In instances where an accident resulted from the fleeing individual drinking and driving, punishments can be much more severe. Not only will the individual likely face manslaughter charges and penalties, but California law states that an additional five years will be added to whatever sentence would normally be imposed for their manslaughter conviction.
There aren’t many traffic violations that can result in long jail sentences, but leaving the scene of an accident that caused injury or death is one, as it is considered a very serious crime. Fortunately for those facing these charges, there are several defenses which could help them. Additionally, judges have more discretion in these cases than they do in some others. With the right legal help, this single mistake may not end up destroying a person’s life.