Legal Defense Against Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
When a traffic crash results in property damage or injury to another person, it is a crime under Colorado law to leave the scene of the accident. Drivers are required to immediately stop or return to the scene, and to remain there until they have fulfilled certain requirements, as outlined in the statutes. If they fail to do so, they can be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, commonly known as hit and run.
Colorado Requirements for Drivers Involved in a Collision
Drivers involved in an accident are required to provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to the other driver or the person who was struck by the vehicle. They are required to render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the crash, which may include carrying that person to or arranging for emergency medical treatment. If none of the other people involved in the wreck are in any condition to receive information, drivers are required to report the accident to the police. A driver who leaves the scene before meeting all these requirements can be charged with hit and run.
More Serious Hit and Run Charges When Injuries Are More Severe
The severity of a hit and run offense depends on how seriously the other person or persons were injured in the accident. Hit and run is a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense if the accident caused injury to any person. It is a class 4 felony if any person suffered serious bodily harm. Fleeing the scene of an accident is charged as a class 3 felony if the accident caused the death of any person.
Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction
Criminal penalties for hit and run can vary, depending on whether the accident caused property damage only, bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death. They may include:
- County jail time for a misdemeanor offense in which the accident caused property damage or minor injuries
- State prison sentence for felony hit and run in which the accident caused serious injury or death
- Fines and court costs
- Restitution to the victims
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
If the hit-and-run accident involved DUI, the defendant may be court ordered to alcohol or drug counseling and/or rehabilitation.
Defenses Against Charges of Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
Hit and run is a serious matter. If you are facing these charges, you will need the best possible defense. Your Colorado criminal defense attorney could raise any of a number of defenses that could apply to your case. Examples of possible defenses to fleeing the scene of an accident include the following:
- There were no witnesses to the accident.
- Eyewitness testimony is not accurate.
- You left the scene because you were not aware the accident occurred (for example, it you hit a pedestrian or bicyclist in the dark without realizing it).
- There appeared to be no property damage and the other motorist appeared to be uninjured.
- You were not driving the car at the time of the crash.
- You were too seriously injured in the accident to remain on the scene or report it to the police.
- You left the scene of the accident to get help for someone who was injured or to look for a police officer.
- No one was injured in the accident and you left a note.
If you have been charged with hit and run, your best chance of obtaining the best possible outcome is to have an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer by your side. At Welsh Law, LLC, we have the skills and experience to fight effectively. We will explain every legal option available to you and advise you on our recommendations for a defense strategy. Call us to schedule a free consultation at (720) 836-1777.