While most people involved in car accidents stop to assess the damage, speak to anyone else involved, and give a statement to the police, some people panic and leave the place where the accident occurred without stopping. When they come to their senses, they often wonder if they can be charged with a crime for leaving the accident scene. If you were involved in a collision and then left, you should speak to a knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to determine your options.
Florida Statutes Regarding Leaving the Scene of an Accident
In Florida, the law imposes different duties on parties who are involved in accidents that cause property damage and those that cause bodily harm. Specifically, if drivers are involved in collisions that only cause damage to vehicles or other property, they must immediately stop at the scene of the crash or as close as possible and must remain there until they have given a report or other information to the police. If they fail to do so, they may be charged with an offense that is a misdemeanor of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to sixty days and a fine of up to $500.
When a collision involves bodily harm, the requirements differ. In other words, drivers of cars involved in accidents that cause an injury to or death of another person must provide their names, addresses, and registration numbers of the vehicles they are operating, and if requested, their licenses to anyone injured in the crash or to the person attending a vehicle damaged in the crash.
They also must provide this information to the police investigating the crash. If no one is available to collect this information, drivers should report crashes to the nearest police department. They are not required to provide information that would violate their right against self-incrimination, however.
Additionally, the law requires that people involved in harmful accidents must render reasonable assistance to anyone hurt in the crash, which includes transporting or arranging for the transportation of the person to a hospital or doctor for medical treatment if it becomes clear that such treatment is necessary or if it is requested. In other words, drivers must call for an ambulance for the injured person. People that fail to comply with the statute and leave the scene of an accident that caused bodily harm may be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. If the accident in question caused a death, it constitutes a first-degree felony, punishable by up to thirty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Meet with a Dedicated Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney
Leaving the scene of a collision can not only result in civil liability, but it can also lead to criminal charges. If you were involved in an accident and then left, you should speak to an attorney about your options. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense attorney who can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the form online or by calling 727-897-5413 to schedule a meeting.