California Vehicle Code Section 20002(a) VC – Misdemeanor Hit and Run
California Vehicle Code Section 20002(a) VC makes it unlawful person to commit a misdemeanor hit and run. That is, it makes it unlawful for a person involved in an accident to flee the scene of the accidents without first stopping, rendering aid to the other party, and exchanging information with the other party involved in the accident.
Also, you should know that the prosecution can either charge a person with a misdemeanor hit and run or felony hit and run. The difference between the two is that misdemeanor hit and run is whether someone was injured as a result of the accident. If no one was injured, the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, however, if someone was injured or killed, the prosecution will bring felony hit and run charges under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 VC against that person.
You should not take misdemeanor hit and run charges under VC 20002(a) lightly as a conviction of this crime carries a maximum jail sentence of up to six months, as well as a fine of up to $1,000. So, if you have been charged with this crime, you should immediately contact an experienced misdemeanor hit and run defense attorney at The H Law Group to represent you to keep you from going to jail for a long period of time.
Our attorneys have represented countless clients charged with a misdemeanor hit and run and they have been able to achieve excellent results in most cases. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.
Text of California Vehicle Code 20002(a) – Misdemeanor Hit and Run
According to California Vehicle Code Section 20002(a), “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do either of the following:
Locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle involved and, upon locating the driver of any other vehicle involved or the owner or person in charge of any damaged property, upon being requested, present his or her driver’s license, and vehicle registration, to the other driver, property owner, or person in charge of that property.”
Summary of the Law
To comply with this section of the law, if a person is involved in an accident that causes another person to suffer property damage to do the following:
- Stop in a safe location
- Locate the owner of the other vehicle or person who suffered property damage
- Present the other party with your driver’s license, registration card, and other identifying information
- In the event that the property owner is not present, you should leave a notice in a visible place with your information
Note: If you do not comply with the law, you can be charged with misdemeanor hit and run in violation of California Vehicle Code 20002(a).
Convicting a Person of Committing Misdemeanor Hit and Run
For the prosecution to convict a person of misdemeanor hit and run, it must prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict the defendant of this crime.
The prosecution must prove the following elements:
- The defendant was driving a vehicle
- While driving, the defendant was involved in an accident
- The defendant damaged another person’s property
- The defendant knew or should reasonably have known that he was involved in an accident
- The defendant intentionally decided not to stop at the scene of the accident or willfully failed to provide the other party with his information
Note: Regardless of who was the cause of the accident, any person who is involved in an accident must stop at the scene and provide the other party with his identifying information, including presenting his driver’s license to the other party. A person who fails to do so can be convicted of a hit and run charge.
Examples of Situations Where a Person Can be Convicted of Misdemeanor Hit and Run
John is trying to park his car in a tight spot. As he’s parking, he hits the car behind him causing a small dent in the bumper of the other car. John leaves quickly without leaving a note. A passerby sees John and calls the police. John can be charged with and convicted of misdemeanor hit and run because he caused damage to another vehicle while he was driving and he failed to leave his information on the other vehicle.
Ed is driving home after a night with friends at the local bar. Ed gets into an accident, but instead of stopping, he speeds off and is caught 5 mins later. Ed can be charged with and convicted of a hit and run because he was involved in an accident, and failed to stop to exchange information with the other party.
Penalties for Being Convicted of Misdemeanor Hit and Run
If the prosecution convicts a person of misdemeanor hit and run, he or she faces the following potential consequences:
- Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
- Up to six (6) months imprisonment in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Placement on informal summary probation for three to five years
- Performance of community service
Note: Your penalties may vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. The court is free to add or reduce your punishment. That said, most cases will result in some form of the above-mentioned penalties for a conviction of misdemeanor hit and run.
Defense for a Misdemeanor Hit and Run Charges
If you have been charged with misdemeanor hit and run, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can use to defend you. Here are some of the most common defenses that your attorney may be able to use to defend you:
- The defendant did not cause any property damage to another person. For example, if the defendant hit a parked car and did not cause any damage to it, the defendant will not be liable for a hit and run if he does not leave his information
- The defendant did not realize that he was involved in an accident. For example, if the defendant was on the freeway and a truck was dropping debris, and the defendant nudged a car to his left and simply though it was the debris hitting his vehicle, he cannot be convicted of a hit and run because the defendant must intentionally fail to stop and exchange information. The defendant cannot form that intent if he did not know that he hit another car.
- The defendant and the victim came to a compromise. In some circumstances where the defendant and the injured party come to an agreement where the defendant fully compensates the victim for damages to his or her property, the courts are willing to drop the charges against the defendant. That said, even if the parties compromise, the defendant can still be charged with and convicted of misdemeanor hit and run.
Contact an Experienced Hit and Run Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with misdemeanor hit and run in violation of Vehicle Code 20002(a), you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Hit and Run Defense Attorney to defend you and keep you from going to jail. Our attorneys have represented thousands of clients and so they have the knowledge and experienced necessary to achieve the best possible results for you. If you decide to hire the hit and run defense attorneys at The H Law Group rest assured that your future is in great hands. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.