Hit & Run Charges Attorney in Kingston, New York
When many people think of hit & run accidents, they think about someone leaving the scene because they don’t have liability insurance. Or they think about someone who seriously injures someone else while driving under the influence, and driving away to avoid being caught. The fact is that there are numerous scenarios that qualify as a hit & run, and they can all result in criminal charges.
If you are asking yourself, “Can I be arrested for hit and run?” the answer is yes. If you have been involved in a car accident, no matter whose fault it was or whether you were the only driver involved, and you left the scene, you may be charged with a crime. It’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
When I was a prosecuting attorney, I prosecuted those who left the scene of an accident. As a defense attorney now at Melanson Law Office P.C., I relentlessly pursue the best defense possible for my clients in Kingston, Catskill, Highland, Hudson, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, and Saugerties, New York. I know how the prosecution will build its case, which means I know how to defend you against the charges.
What Does New York Consider to be a Hit & Run?
You are obliged by New York law to stop at the scene of an accident you are involved in, to exchange contact and insurance information with anyone else involved, to render aid when necessary, and in many circumstances, to contact law enforcement. If you fail to do any of these things, you break the law, which means you might be charged with a crime if you are identified.
As is true with most crimes, ignorance is no defense. Here are some examples of obvious and less obvious hit & run incidents.
You slam your door into another vehicle in a store parking lot, causing a dent in the other vehicle’s door. You don’t know who owns the car and they aren’t there, so you drive away.
You can also be charged with hit and run if you leave your name and contact information on a note under the windshield wiper of the other car if you fail to also report the incident to local law enforcement.
You back into another car parked on the street. You take a look but see no damage, so you drive away without leaving your contact information or reporting it to law enforcement.
You are rear-ended by another car while in the turning lane. You have had a few beers to drink, so you wave them off and drive away.
You are involved in an accident and exchange false information, such as your name or phone number.
You nearly sideswipe a bicyclist, causing the cyclist to run off the road and fall. You see them get up and get back on their bike, so you continue driving.
You run a red light while on your phone and T-bone a car in the intersection. You have been drinking, or you don’t have insurance, or your driver’s license is expired, so you drive off.
In each of these examples, you failed to comply with the law, and you can be criminally charged as a result. A hit & run isn’t just about the civil liability you face if you cause an accident while driving. Of course, you are financially responsible for the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage you cause, but you also risk criminal charges if you drive away.
What Are Some Criminal Penalties for a Hit & Run?
Depending on the severity of damage to people and property, you may be charged with a traffic violation or a misdemeanor offense If you leave the scene where someone is seriously injured, you face a Class E felony charge. Leave the scene of an accident that results in death, and you may face a Class D felony.
Penalties for hit and run include fines from $250 to $5,000, surcharges, the addition of points on your driver’s license or revocation of your license for up to a year, jail time from 15 days to one year, and a criminal conviction on your record.
In addition, you may face a civil lawsuit, DWI charges if applicable, higher insurance premiums, or be unable to obtain liability insurance for your vehicle entirely.
Are There Any Defenses for Hit & Run?
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to argue that you were unaware that you hit anything or anyone. You may also say that the other person involved told you they didn’t need your contact and insurance information and said it was fine to leave. Your best opportunity, though, is to hire a criminal defense attorney right away. They can help you strategize an effective defense and guide you through the legal process.
Hit & Run Charges Attorney Serving Kingston, New York
If you were involved in a hit & run accident in Kingston, New York, or the surrounding areas, don’t wait for law enforcement to find you. Find me instead. Let me hear you out and build a defense informed by what I know the prosecution will do. Call Melanson Law Office P.C. to set up an appointment.