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What if you are charged with hit-and-run after a car crash?

After an auto accident in Virginia, drivers are expected to stop their vehicle and stay at the scene. If they do not, they can face a variety of criminal charges. This is especially true if the accident led to injury, death or damage to property. While it is somewhat understandable that a driver might have been frightened after a car crash, it is a mistake to flee. Still, when drivers do make this mistake, it is imperative to understand what the law and the potential penalties if there is a conviction.

When a driver is in a crash and there is injury, death or property damage, he or she is expected to stay as close as possible to the scene without obstructing traffic. The driver must give information, including name, address, driver's license information and vehicle information to law enforcement, to the person who was injured, provided he or she is able to understand what is being said, or to another person who was in the other vehicle or is the custodian of the property that was damaged. The driver must also provide reasonable help to the injured person. That can include bringing the person for treatment.

If the injuries are severe enough, emergency services must be called for help as soon as possible. The vital information must also be given in this situation. If there is a violation of this law and the driver does not do any of the above and flees the scene, it will be a Class 5 felony if there is injury or death or if there was greater than $1,000 worth of property damage. If the damage was $1,000 or less, it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The penalties for a Class 5 felony include jail time of at least one year and up to 10 years. The jury or the judge in a case without a jury can decide that the person will be incarcerated for up to one year with a fine of up to $2,500. There can be either penalty assessed or both assessed. A Class 1 misdemeanor can result in jail time for up to one year, a fine of $2,500, either or both.

At first glance, traffic violations might not sound as if they are serious. However, if there is a crash and the driver decides to flee, it can result in various penalties, including incarceration, fines and a driver's license suspension. These can have a lasting impact on a person's life. When facing a hit-and-run charge and other traffic offenses, a strong legal defense strategy is crucial.

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Boyce, Leahy & Francescon, Lawyers
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Manassas, VA 20110

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