Charged with leaving the scene of an accident? A Las Vegas hit-and-run lawyer can build a strong defense case and fight for your rights. No one ever thinks that they would leave the scene of a car accident. However, at the moment of any crash, many people become extremely confused, overwhelmed, and scared. The result is that each year, thousands of vehicles are involved in hit-and-run accidents, with serious consequences for everyone involved.
Whatever the reason for leaving the scene of a car accident, hit-and-runs are criminal acts that may result in a mark on your permanent record, a driver’s license suspension, heavy fines, and even jail time. If you have been involved in a hit-and-run in Nevada, you may benefit from the assistance of the Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys from De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers.
What is a Hit-and-Run?
At its most basic definition, a hit-and-run takes place when a driver causes an accident, then drives off without checking to see if the person or property they hit is without damage. Under Nevada law, drivers are always required to stop their vehicles after a crash has taken place. This means that if you hit a parked car and there is no one in the vehicle, you are still required to leave behind some sort of contact information so that you can be reached.
Hit-and-runs differ in severity depending on the damage that took place in the accident, and whether there were injured parties involved. Fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run always has legal consequences, which could result in jail time, fines, and even a suspended license.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident That Has Caused Property Damage
This type of hit-and-run generally results in a somewhat lesser penalty than if there is injury or death involved. However, this scenario still carries legal consequences and is common in the Las Vegas area. Even if no one is injured in the accident or if no one is present in the other vehicle, you are obligated under Nevada law to stop and leave your contact information on the other vehicle.
Hitting another vehicle and leaving the scene without stopping to exchange information with the other driver is considered a misdemeanor. Being found guilty of this crime could result in:
- Substantially higher car insurance rates
- Six points on your Nevada driver’s license
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to six months in jail
Leaving the Scene of an Accident That Has Caused Injury or Death
Under Nevada law, you are required to stop your car and render aid to any injured parties after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. This could mean asking the other driver and any passengers if they are okay, calling for medical assistance, or asking a bystander to call for assistance. If you leave the scene of a car accident without rendering aid or calling for help, it is considered a felony. Being found guilty of this crime could result in:
- Substantially higher car insurance rates.
- A suspended or revoked Nevada driver’s license.
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to 20 years in prison.
How A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
Whether you realized immediately that you should go back to the scene of an accident or you are coming forward at a later date following a hit-and-run, you have the right to legal representation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you are treated fairly. Some of the main reasons to hire a criminal defense lawyer include:
- They have extensive knowledge of the law, statutes, penalties, and defenses.
- They have experience dealing with judges, insurance companies, and the legal process is invaluable.
- They may be able to help you negotiate lower penalties, such as jail time and fines, if necessary.
In addition, criminal defense lawyers have the resources at their disposal to thoroughly research your case and make sure that they are doing everything that can be done to benefit you.
There are instances where your role in a hit-and-run can be explained, and therefore the charges against you could possibly be reduced or dismissed. This all depends on the circumstances surrounding your incident. Some of the defenses that can be employed in Nevada include:
- An emergency situation
- An involuntary intoxication
- A crime that forced you to flee the accident
In all of these cases, you would be the one responsible for proving that one of these factors was the reason why you could not remain at the scene of the crime.
Important Factors in Hit-And-Run Cases
As with any legal case, there are a variety of factors that will be taken into consideration. Depending on the severity of the factor at hand, you could find yourself facing more serious charges.
#1. Was Negligent Driving the Cause of the Accident?
The term “negligent driving” can encompass a wide range of illegal activities while operating a motor vehicle. Some of the most common examples of negligent driving include:
- Texting while driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Driving while intoxicated
If any of these factors were involved in your accident, then it could change how the court rules in your case. While texting and driving is becoming more common, it is also one of the most dangerous habits of drivers on the roads of Las Vegas.
If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during your hit-and-run, then you will likely be faced with more damaging charges. If you were operating your motor vehicle while intoxicated, a lawyer from our firm can help.
#2. Does the Driver Have a Criminal Record?
Another factor that could determine the severity of your case is whether or not you have previously been found guilty of a similar crime. Your driving record and criminal record will both be put on display in this situation. If you have previously been involved in a hit-and-run, then it is likely that you will face more severe charges this time.
#3. Was the Driver Breaking Another Law?
This is similar to negligent driving, but it comes with an additional criminal aspect. Whether or not you were breaking other laws at the time of the accident could play a role in the severity of your case. If you ran a red light, did not stop at a stop sign, or were speeding at the time of the accident, then that could result in harsher punishment.
#4. How Severe was the Damage in the Accident?
The severity of the injuries to the person or persons harmed in your accident and the severity of the damage to the property involved could also play a factor in determining the severity of your case. If you were involved in a minor fender bender, then you likely won’t face charges equal to those you would face if someone were killed in your accident.
#5. What Effort was Made by the Driver of the Vehicle?
This is a very important factor when looking at a hit-and-run accident. After the driver fled the scene:
- Did he or she turn themselves in or did they wait until they were found to admit their mistake?
- Did he or she realize that someone was injured or that property was damaged during the accident?
- Did he or she make an effort to help the people injured or try to get in contact with the owner of the damaged property?
The Best Approach Following an Accident
If you have been involved in an accident in the state of Nevada, whether there were other individuals involved in the accident or not, the best thing that you can do is stop, get out of your car and check for damage. If you hit the car of someone who is not present, then you are required to leave your contact information at the scene of the crime so that you can be reached.
The same goes for property damage. If you hit a fence or building, but there is no one around, you should look for the owner of the property and if you are unable to find them, you should leave all pertinent contact information for them to reach you.
If you are involved in an accident that results in injuries to another party, then you should immediately call the police and let them know that an accident has occurred and injuries have taken place. You need to stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and then answer their questions and give a statement about what happened.
Making Things Right After Leaving the Scene
If you panic and leave the scene of an accident, it makes a difference to begin righting wrongs as soon as possible. If you quickly realize that you have made a mistake minutes after leaving, it is best (for both you and everyone else involved) to turn around and return to the scene.
Likewise, if you realize the next morning that you have not done the right or lawful thing, you could come forward with the help of a Las Vegas hit-and-run lawyer from our firm. Talking to your criminal defense attorney at any point after your hit-and-run is private and confidential.
Contact De Castroverde Accident and Injury Lawyers Today
Even if you made the wrong decision in the chaotic moments after a traffic accident, you can start making the right decisions right now. A Las Vegas hit-and-run attorney can help you understand your case and make a plan to move forward. To learn more about our legal services, or to request a confidential consultation, please contact De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers today.