It’s a beautiful day in Los Angeles. People are out and about, traffic is crazy as usual, and overall there’s a lot happening. You might be late to a work meeting. The car in front of you stops abruptly, and you tap their back bumper. The person doesn’t pull over and you see no outside damages. With a wince, you continue on your hurried journey. Little did you know, you are a prime candidate for a hit-and-run charge, despite no bad intentions.

California hit-and-run laws

California, like most states, identifies two types of hit-and-run offenses: a misdemeanor or a felony. According to Vehicle Code 20002, you are charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run if you leave the accident without identifying yourself with other driver, whose property is damaged.

A felony hit-and-run relates to more than just property damage. The offense is more concerned with injury or death. You could get a felony charge by leaving the scene when someone’s injured.

California hit-and-run laws apply to every car accident. The laws don’t consider who was at fault, the amount of damage or injuries. Because of this, many people who have a history of traffic violations get pinned with a misdemeanor hit-and-run under various circumstances. So, even if it was just a fender-bender, you could still face consequences.

Consequences of hit-and-runs

Misdemeanor and felony hit-and-runs have differing penalties. For misdemeanors, there’s a fine of up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to six months in county jail. These are pretty hefty penalties for an otherwise minor offense. If the hit-and run resulted in injury, fines can reach $10,000 and up to 4 years in state prison.

Your rights are worth fighting for. Maybe only your car was damaged, you didn’t realize someone else’s was, or it wasn’t even you involved in the accident. Regardless of the situation, misdemeanor charges can be resolved with tried-and-true defense.