Fleeing the scene of a crime is a serious offense, no matter how small or large the damage. This is especially true when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, but just how much trouble will it land you in? Is a hit and run a felony? As a Maricopa County resident, what happens if you choose to keep driving after even a minor car accident? The answer might surprise you.
What Is a Hit and Run?
First, it is important to understand what constitutes a hit and run. All drivers involved in any type of traffic collision must remain at the scene and identify themselves: This is their legal obligation. This process includes providing their name and contact information, as well as vehicle identification number and insurance information.
Even if the damage appears minimal or nonexistent, you must stop and provide your personal information. Drivers are not necessarily required by law to report to the police if no officers arrive at the scene or were called to the scene because no injuries occurred and the collision was minor. However, they are still required to provide this information to the other parties involved at a minimum.
What if the accident does not involve another vehicle? The act is a crime no matter what the car collides with. While this is typically another vehicle, it can also be a person, or the property of another individual, company, or group.
Is a Hit and Run a Felony?
Leaving the scene of an accident falls under traffic law, which varies from state to state. In Arizona, a hit and run is a felony if the victim maintains an injury or dies and you flee the scene. You could also receive a felony charge if you do not either help an injured victim or call law enforcement or emergency services to do so.
If the victim is not injured, you could still face serious charges if you run. In Arizona, fleeing the scene of an accident where no injury occurred is not a felony, but it is still a crime. This action, including hitting a parked car without identifying yourself, is usually a misdemeanor. However, even when no injury occurred, if the total damage exceeds $10,000, the crime is still a felony.
What consequences could you face if you flee the scene of an accident in Arizona? Here, felonies range from class one to class six, with one being the most serious. Depending on the situation, the crime can receive a classification anywhere on this scale.
Felonies are punishable by serious jail time. A class six recommendation is one year, while a class one is anywhere between 25 years to a life sentence. Several other factors determine the length and harshness of the sentence, including past offenses and the severity of the resulting damage or injuries. The total may also depend on the discretion of the judge and the overall impact of your legal team. If you receive a felony charge for a hit and run, a skilled and experienced lawyer is essential.
What Should You Do After a Hit and Run?
No matter what side of the situation you find yourself on, there are some critical steps you should take when a hit and run occurs in Maricopa County.
If you are in a traffic accident and the other driver flees the scene, your health and safety are still your number one priority. Contact emergency services if necessary and exit the vehicle, keeping yourself a safe distance away in case of a potential leak or fire.
It is normal to desire that the offender in a hit and run be brought to justice, but think carefully before you act. Do not pursue the other vehicle, as this puts you in danger and can also lead to criminal charges for fleeing the scene. If possible, take photographs of the other car or try to remember the make, model, color, and/or license plate number. Call the police immediately to report the incident and receive the help you need.
Finally, contact your legal team to determine the next steps. If you sustained any injuries or damage to your property, they can help you on the path toward financial compensation. These funds can help with repairs or replacements, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
If you operate a vehicle in Arizona, never leave the scene of an accident, even if it’s just a fender bender. Even in this situation when the damage seems minor, you could still face felony charges for fleeing. You never know how even a small collision can impact the driver or passengers of the other vehicle, possibly leading to serious injuries. With modern technology and the prevalence of security cameras, cell phones, and dash cameras, it’s likely the police will locate you in a short amount of time. Remember, if it is a felony, you may go to jail.
If you have already fled the scene of a car crash, contact your legal counsel right away to determine the best course of action for you. Your next steps could be critical in determining exactly what you are charged with and what type of penalties you receive. While it might be too late to return to the scene, you have other options to help protect your record and your future.
Who Can Help You After a Hit and Run?
Dealing with the aftermath of a car collision can be daunting, but leaving the scene before you identify yourself is still a punishable crime. Is a hit and run a felony in Arizona? It can be, so if you’re involved, you need a legal team who knows your rights and understands Arizona traffic law inside and out. At Sargon Law Group, we specialize in helping our clients get the support and guidance they need so they can move forward in the legal process with confidence. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you in the aftermath of a hit and run, and any other serious injury or accident.