Hit and Run Lawyer in Vancouver WA
Roger Priest is a criminal defense attorney in Vancouver WA with extensive courtroom experience with hit and run cases.
It should come as no surprise that it is a crime to “hit and run” if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Washington. However, few people know exactly what their obligations are in such a case. In fact, many people have found themselves facing criminal charges for hit and run where they thought they did everything right.
Part of the problem is that your obligations if you’ve been involved in an accident depend greatly on what type of car accident you’ve been in. The severity of criminal consequences and your legal obligations are different depending on whether the car accident results in personal injury, death, car damage, or property damage other than a car. In fact the consequences can range from simple misdemeanor to a felony.
In fact, it doesn’t matter if the accident was your fault or not. Even if you weren’t to blame for the accident, you cannot leave until you fulfill your obligations under the law. This often presents a problem for people who are DUI and don’t want to stick around at the scene of the accident. However, the consequences can become worse if you decide to leave the scene.
Hit and Run of Property Adjacent to the Highway or an Unattended Vehicle
If you are involved in a single car accident and destroy property that is adjacent to the highway (i.e., a fence, a mailbox, a garden, etc.), you must take reasonable steps to either ocate the owner of the property struck and give them your name and address or you must leave a note with this information in a conspicuous place upon the damaged property.
It can often be difficult to determine who the owner of property is, especially if it is not related to someone’s yard. For instance, hitting a light pole might beg the question, “who owns the light pole”? While it is often easiest to simply call 911 to report the accident, some people might want to go home first and then use the internet or phone book to look up the appropriate person. However, this can lead to criminal charges if the police believe you failed to “take reasonable steps”.
For an unattended vehicle, this can be as simply as leaving a note if the other person is not nearby their vehicle. In such a case, it pays to photograph the note under their windshield wiper, to insure you have evidence that you did what was required.
Hit and Run of Attended Vehicle
If you are involved in a car accident that results in damage to another vehicle, you are legally required to immediately stop as close as possible to the scene of the accident and return there. Further, you may not leave until you’ve provided your name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number and vehicle license number. You must also show your license to the other person upon request.
If you fail to do so, you can face either jail and a license suspension. People are often charged criminally where they don’t immediately stop but stop closeby. Few people know that they are required to return to the scene of the accident. What if the vehicle is disabled by the accident? What if the person calls instead and waits where they are? These questions have and will continue to lead to criminal cases, so it always pays to return to the scene if possible.
If you are charged with this type of hit and run criminal charge, you can face jail, probation, fines and a license suspension. The help of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Roger Priest, can help to avoid criminal liability in such cases.
Hit and Run Involving Personal Injury or Death
In addition to the above requirements, if the accident resulted in injury or death, you have the added responsibility of rendering aid. This typically requires you make arrangements to get the person to a medical professional. If the person is not capable of taking your driving information, you must also report it to the police.
Failure to comply with these requirements related to an injured person can result in a C felony conviction punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Failure to comply with these requirements related to a person who has died in the accident can result in a B felony conviction punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Facing Criminal Charges Related to Hit and Run?
If you are facing hit and run criminal charges, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges or negotiate the best resolution. Because the risks are wide-ranging and the severity of the case can depend so much on the circumstances, it pays to seek the advice of an attorney who knows the laws and your options. It can make a huge difference to your freedom, financial position, and your ability to drive.
If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident, call us today. It doesn’t matter if you’ve yet been charged or not. We receive calls from people at or near the time of the accident seeking advice. We can guide you through the process at the scene of the accident. Perhaps you’ve not talked to the police and they are calling you or showing up at your house. Call us immediately, so we can help you through the process. If you’ve already been charged with a crime, then Roger Priest is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you navigate the court system and help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible.
We offer a free no-obligation case evaluation on every case. Call us today and we can answer your questions and help you take control of your case.