The Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Hit and Run Charges in CA

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Hit and run laws, like most traffic laws, depend largely on the circumstances of the initial car accident; each state had the ability to determine the rules and consequences of traffic laws, and traffic violations involving drivers who flee the scene of an accident are no exception.

Again, like most traffic violations, hit and run tickets can either be misdemeanors or felonies, and these violations can also be measured in “degrees” which signify how serious the damage was. It isn’t always easy to predict what particular charge a driver will be given after committing a hit and run offense, but in the state of California, there are a few guidelines used to determine the severity of the crime:

A misdemeanor hit and run ticket can be given any time a driver leaves the scene of an accident…

1. without providing contact information (such as leaving a note with contact info after hitting a parked car);
2. without identifying himself/herself to anyone else involved;
3. or without reporting an accident to authorities if damage was caused to someone else’s property (since police officers don’t always show up to accidents, going to the nearest station and filing a report will suffice).

Technically, it’s possible to cause an accident, flee the scene, and never get caught. Technically. But the chances of not getting caught are pretty slim these days.

Felony hit and run violations usually signify that personal injury occurred from the accident, whereas misdemeanor violations focus on property damage.

  • Most importantly, a driver will almost always be charged with a felony hit and run offense if he/she causes serious injury or death to another person.
  • When injury occurs, it doesn’t matter who was at fault, or how serious the injuries are. If you’re the person injured, you technically do have the right to drive away and not be charged. But if anyone else was injured too — even if you weren’t responsible but you were involved — the law requires that you stop.

The obvious issue with hit and run violations is that many people don’t realize they’re breaking the law, as weird as that sounds. Regardless of the circumstances, if you’ve been charged with a hit and run violation, you deserve every shot at getting the charges dropped or reduced — quite simply, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, the consequences of hit and run accidents are too serious to ignore and accept quietly.
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