According to AAA, a hit-and-run crash happens somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds. In one year alone, there were 2,049 fatalities resulting from hit-and-run crashes. (1) You may have been involved in a fender bender where you bumped into a parked car. Perhaps you looked for damage on the other car. If there is no damage and you drive away, is that a hit and run? And what defense do you have if you drive away from the scene of an accident?

What is a Hit and Run?

A hit and run offense is criminal if there is damage to another car or injury to another person. If you fail to stop and offer your insurance information and identity, you have committed a hit and run. Another example is if you refused to check on others for injuries or did not report the crash.

If you’re involved in a crash in North Carolina, by law you are required to:

  • Stop your car
  • Provide your correct contact and insurance information to others involved in the accident
  • Call for medical attention if anyone needs it. 
  • Stay with your car until police arrive and complete their investigate

You can only leave the scene by law if you are:

  • Finding a way to contact the police
  • Looking for medical attention for yourself or others
  • Trying to prevent more injury from occurring

Consequences of a Hit and Run

The consequences of a hit-and-run accident can be some of the most severe for a criminal offense, including felony charges. There are also situations where you may not receive any criminal charges at all. The consequences have quite a bit to do with your intentions. The resulting charges also rest on the damage and injuries involved in the accident. Possible convictions include misdemeanor charges through felony charges with time in prison.

If you are a hit and run victim, you will need to follow the same protocols as anyone in an accident. The police will investigate the scene and try to find the perpetrator. The police eventually identify about half of all hit-and-run drivers.

If You are Charged with Hit and Run

If you are charged with a hit and run, you likely know driving away from the scene of an accident was not your shining moment. Others may be hurting badly because of your actions. However, it is possible to mount a defense for a hit and run depending on your reasons for driving away.

Lack of Awareness

One possible defense is if you did not realize an accident occurred. Perhaps you were driving after the death of your mother and just did not even register the fender bender in your mind. Or maybe you were drinking and in a “blacked out” state. These are not defenses for why the accident occurred, but they could be reasons why you drove off. You could still be held responsible for a DUI or face charges for causing the accident. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you see your specific situation more clearly to know what your best defense might be. 

No Damage No Injuries

Another defense might be that you didn’t cause any damage to another vehicle or any injuries to people. In this case, it is not likely you will face charges for more than a misdemeanor at most. However, when you drove away, you did not know if anyone was injured or if there was damage. You did not exchange your information with the other driver, even though technically you are required to do so by law.  In this case, an attorney could likely help you get charges reduced, although nothing is inevitable with a hit-and-run case.

No Involvement

If you’re facing charges for a hit-and-run despite having no recollection of the event, it is possible you were not involved, and witness statements were unreliable. If you were somewhere else at the time of the accident, you could rely on witnesses to your location during the accident. Working with an attorney to prove your innocence is your best path to having your name cleared.

We Can Help

Whether you face charges in a hit-and-run does not determine whether you will be convicted. It is essential to recognize that with an experienced Criminal Defense attorney, you have a shot at mounting a good defense for your actions. Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney about what has happened can help you make sense of it all and make good decisions moving forward.

Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Cape Fear Law to find out how we can help.