When you are involved in a car accident in Florida with any sort of damage, it is law that you must stop to render aid and give information to law enforcement or the other party involved. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges for a hit and run accident in Florida. If you are facing such charges, a Florida criminal defense lawyer can help.
Florida’s Law of Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
Florida statutes require that any drivers who are involved in accidents that result in personal or property damage remain at the scene to render aid and give their information to the other parties involved. This goes for pedestrian accidents and accidents with fixed objects or unoccupied vehicles.
If you are driving and strike another vehicle, person or object and cause personal injury or property damage, you owe the victim or property owner a duty to stop, give your information and attempt to render aid. A simple accident that would have only resulted in a traffic citation can escalate to serious criminal charges if you leave and it becomes a hit and run accident in Florida.
The information you must provide to other parties involved includes your:
- address; and
- contact information.
If your accident did not involve any other parties, you must attempt to find the owner of the property you damaged or leave your contact information at the scene.
Rendering aid to avoid criminal charges for a hit and run accident does not mean you have to be medically involved. To render aid is to contact emergency services by calling 911 or to verbally confirm that the other parties involved are physically okay.
How a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
When a hit and run accident occurs, the police will attempt to locate the absent driver through several means. In many cases, the guilty driver was not malicious in their abandonment of the scene and may have done so out of fear or ignorance. If you are guilty of a hit and run accident in Florida, you should contact a Florida criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss your situation.
In most cases, it is in your best interest to immediately report the accident to authorities. If your case is such that you were unaware you caused a hit and run accident, you may be able to reduce the criminal charges you will now face. In the case of a hit and run accident in Florida where only property damage was involved, the criminal charges will be a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500.
When a hit and run accident in Florida causes injury to another, you will face 3rd degree felony criminal charges, which carry a potential sentence of up to 15 years in jail and fines of $10,000. You may also be held liable to pay restitution to the victims and your driver’s license may be revoked.
Your Florida criminal defense lawyer will be able to explain the criminal charges brought against you and how you can fight them. In some cases, the charges may be dropped completely with the appropriate evidence. Most drivers face hit and run charges for the first time and are inexperienced with the legal process of answering these criminal charges. With this in mind, your case outcome can benefit greatly with the help of an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer.