Charged with Misdemeanor Hit and Run (Vehicle Code 20002) in Orange County?
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Are you being accused and charged with misdemeanor hit and run in Orange County? The legal team at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can explain to you what you're facing and help you keep your criminal and driving record clean. We're experienced in handling successful hit and run defense in the courts of Fullerton, Westminster, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and throughout California.
What is a Misdemeanor Hit and Run in OC?
According to our criminal defense lawyer, who has handled several cases of hit and run, the important distinction between misdemeanor and felony hit and run is simply that the misdemeanor charge is concerned only with property damage, while felony hit and run is concerned only with injury .
Under California Vehicle Code 20002 you may be charged with misdemeanor hit and run if you leave the scene of an accident after allegedly damaging somebody else's car or property. This applies to every accident where there was damage to another's car or property, regardless of who was at fault, the amount of damage the other person's car or property sustained, or the seriousness of injuries.
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Basically, according to a hit and run defense attorney, if you are involved in an accident that causes damage to another's car or property, no matter how minor or major, you must immediately stop, give the other person your information, and provide your driver's license and vehicle registration upon request.
One criminal defense lawyer says way too many people make the mistake after “lightly” hitting or “tapping” another car that they can just leave since there appeared to be no damage to the other person's car, however this is a clear violation of California's misdemeanor hit and run law and many people have faced such charges based on this very situation.
Law Office of Michael L. Guisti wants you to know that regardless of how serious the accident is, or isn't, by leaving the scene of the accident it can be viewed as a blatant disregard for others by an Orange County judge and jury, which means that judge and jury may be rough on you if you fled the scene without stopping.
Proving You Did a Misdemeanor Hit and Run
As a criminal attorney knows from years of courtroom experience, in order to prove that you were involved in a misdemeanor hit and run the Orange County District Attorney must prove the following four facts, the first, you were involved in an accident that resulted in another's property being damaged; the second, that you knew an accident had occurred; the third, that you were involved in the accident where either you knew property was damaged, or that the accident was of such a nature that it was probable that another's property was damaged; and the forth, that you failed to perform all the duties outlined above.
The Orange County jury will be instructed that in order to find you guilty they must unanimously agree that you failed to perform those four duties.
Your Misdemeanor Hit and Run Defense
Our team at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti want you to know that you have several defense options. First off, if only your car has damage there is no duty to stop or exchange information under California's misdemeanor hit and run law, and if you hit someone else's property, like a mailbox, fence or even a structure causing damage only to your car but left the other person's property undamaged you could not be convicted of misdemeanor hit and run.
One hit and run defense attorney has seen many cases where the driver just simply didn't know they hit something, and since they didn't know they were involved in an accident, there can be no criminal liability for the driver. Maybe you were in a very large vehicle, backed into a small car and not even realized it. It happens more often than you think.
If you fled the scene but decided to go back within a reasonable amount of time to provide the required information the Orange County District Attorney would likely look at a variety of facts, such as your driving record and criminal history, before deciding whether or not to file charges.
Even if it can be proved that your car was involved in the hit and run that alone does not prove you were the driver. For one thing, as one experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney has successfully argued, how could it be proven it was you driving at the time of the hit and run when there was no eyewitness to testify to your identity?
The Orange County District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the driver of the vehicle at the time of the hit and run, and if there is no account you were driving the vehicle at the time of the hit and run the prosecution has no case.
Punishment for Misdemeanor Hit and Run in Orange County
If convicted for misdemeanor hit and run you face up to three years of informal probation, possibly up to six months in Orange County jail, up to $1,000 in fines plus court-assessed penalties, restitution to any victim(s) whose property you damaged, and two points on your driving record.
Law Office of Michael L. Guisti want you to understand that unless there were spectator circumstances involved it's highly unlikely you would be sentenced to any jail time, especially if it's your first offense and you were not DUI.
If this was your first offense and there were no aggravating circumstances like DUI an Orange County judge may allow you to partake in a civil compromise under California Penal Code 1377, which allows a civil remedy to someone who has been injured as the result of another's misdemeanor conduct. If the judge allows this your criminal charge of misdemeanor hit and run will be dismissed once you have fully reimbursed the person(s) whose property you damaged.
Please Don't Go at This Alone
As you've read misdemeanor hit and run has serious consequences, but with the experienced lawyers of Law Office of Michael L. Guisti on your side they'll thoroughly investigate the Orange County police officer's actions and bring in accident investigators.
Rest assured that Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can handle your case in best possible way to reduce your criminal charges and possibly dismiss your case and keep your driving record clean. We will guide you through the legal process, represent you in and out of court, give you all best possible solutions for your case and will do everything possible to make this complicated time much easier.
Call our experienced OC criminal defense lawyer at (714) 530-9690 to start building your case!
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.