Fort Walton Beach and Destin Hit and Run Attorney
Criminal Defense For Hit and Run Arrest in Okaloosa County
Both Hit and Run, and the crime of Leaving the Scene of an accident, are essentially synonymous. Florida Statutes uses the more official sounding terminology: Leaving the Scene of an Accident or Leaving the Scene of a Crash. But in the general public, most people call it Hit and Run.
Most of the time in these types of cases, the arrest does not happen right away. An investigation is needed to locate potential suspect vehicles. But police are very good at tracking down makes and models of various cars and trucks and systematically locating owners until the arrest is eventually made.
Suspected Of Leaving The Scene Of An Accident?
First, do not panic. If you are under investigation of being involved in a Hit and Run, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Discuss your legal options with your attorney and know that your discussions about your potential charges are completely confidential. You have the right to have contact a criminal lawyer to protect your personal liberty!
Second, do not make ANY statements to law enforcement whatsoever. Your attorney can deal with police questions while keeping you protected. Your attorney can also help you deal with arrest warrant and bond issues.
Arrested For A Hit And Run?
If you are a person accused of leaving the scene of an accident, there are some things that you need to know:
- You will need an experienced attorney. Although the basic version of Leaving the Scene of a Crash is a misdemeanor, it can become a very serious felony charge depending on the circumstances, especially if a person was injured during the accident.
A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate through the charges while also being able to successfully negotiate by using the payment of restitution as leverage for a lesser or reduced charge, or potentially a diversionary result like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA); whereby your case could be dismissed completely.
- The penalties for a Hit and Run could be severe. You could be facing incarceration, probation, and other sanctions if you are convicted. Judges are especially harsh on these types of cases, especially if they believe alcohol may have been involved. In addition to jail or community supervision, you could also be facing: restitution for damages to the other vehicle or property, substantial fines and court costs, as well as the possibility of having your driver’s license suspended.
- In addition, it is possible to be additionally charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Leaving the Scene. It is sometimes difficult for the prosecutor to prove the defendant was DUI or that alcohol was somehow involved, but nevertheless, Florida Law allows for enhanced penalties and/or more extreme charges (like DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, or DUI Manslaughter) if it can be proven that the defendant was driving impaired or intoxicated at the time of the crash.
There are several different levels of Leaving the Scene of a Crash or Accident:
- Leaving the Scene of a Crash involving Property Damage:
This is generally the case when there is a “fender bender” type of accident and no one is hurt, just that there is damage to the vehicles or surrounding property. It is a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine as well as court costs and restitution.
- Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Personal Injury
If you are charged with this crime, it may be because the accident resulted in the physical injury of another and you are accused of leaving the scene without providing identification or reasonable medical aid to the injured parties. It is a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and may include the payment of restitution for vehicle damage as well as medical expenses.
- Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving a Death
Obviously, this is the most serious charge in category of Hit and Run offenses. If you are charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident involving a Death, you are facing a First Degree Felony punishable with the potential for a 30 year prison term and a possible minimum mandatory sentence of two years under certain circumstances.
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for Hit & Run/Leaving the scene of an accident in Fort Walton Beach, Destin or anywhere else in Okaloosa County or Walton County, call (850) 362-6655 for a free consultation with a defense attorney that has successfully handled many of these type of issues.