Felony Hit and Run Causing Injuries – California Vehicle Code 20001 VC
The crime of “felony hit and run causing injury” is described under California Vehicle Code 20001. This statute criminalizes leaving the scene of an accident when another person has sustained injuries or killed, even if you were not a fault for the vehicle accident.
The crime of hit and run is defined under California Vehicle Code 20002 and normally charged as a misdemeanor offense.
Under California law, if you are involved in a vehicle accident, you are required to:
- immediately stop;
- exchange contact information, and;
- insurance information with the other driver.
In all but a few rare cases, the failure to do so is a crime. However, where the collision at issue results in injuries to another party, the failure to stop can be punished as a felony violation of Vehicle Code 20002 and potentially result in state prison time and steep fines.
If convicted, you could be facing state prison time and huge fines.
Examples of felony hit and run
In Los Angeles, a common example of a VC 20001 felony hit and run causing injury occurs when:
- a driver strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk and then quickly drives away from the scene of the accident.
- a person who is driving under the influence is involved in a serious accident causing in injures and flees the scene.
California Vehicle Code 20001 defines felony hit and run causing injury as:
- Any vehicle driver who was involved in an accident causing injury or death to another person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill their legal requirements
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are providing a detailed review below.
What Factors Must Be Proven for Hit and Run Conviction?
In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for felony hit and run with injuries in violation of to convict you of California Vehicle Code 20001, they must prove the elements of the crime (CALCRIM 2140) beyond any reasonable doubt.
These crucial factors include:
- Defendant was involved in a vehicle accident while driving;
- The accident caused injury or death to someone else;
- Defendant knew, or should have known, they were involved in an accident that caused injuries or death of someone, and then willfully;
- Failed to immediately stop at accident scene, provide reasonable assistance to injured people, or provide personal information at the scene of accident.
It's worth noting that “willfully” means the act was on purpose. It is not required that defendant intended to break the law or injure someone.
The related California offenses for Vehicle Code 20001 felony hit and run include:
- Vehicle Code 20002 VC – misdemeanor hit and run,
- Vehicle Code 23152 VC – driving under the influence,
- Penal Code 192(c) – vehicular manslaughter.
What are the Penalties for VC 20001 Felony Hit and Run?
Prosecutors are allowed broad discretion in filing for hit and run charges and most cases are filed as a misdemeanor crime.
When there is an accident resulting in an injury to other people, then a violation of Vehicle Code 20001 is a California “wobbler” that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run case, the penalties include:
- up to one year in county jail, and;
- a fine up to $1,000.
If you are convicted of a felony hit and run case, the penalties include:
- up to 4 years in a California state prison, and;
- a fine up to $10,000.
Prefiling Intervention in Felony Hit and Run Cases
As you can see above, the severe penalties that can be imposed for a VC 20001 felony hit and run is a crucial factor that demonstrates the importance of pre-filing intervention by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
If injuries occurred in the hit and run, the prosecutor who is deciding how to file the case might be persuaded by a skilled criminal lawyer to file the case as a misdemeanor crime.
The filing decision is crucial as a misdemeanor offense carries lesser penalties and will avoid any chance at serving time in a state prison.
Our criminal lawyers can present mitigating information about your:
- character, and;
We could also arrange payment of victim restitution for medical bills, property damage, and other losses that can prove crucial to the outcome of the case.
How Can I Fight VC 20001 Felony Hit and Run Charges?
If you have been charged with Vehicle Code 20001, there are several common defenses. For example:
- there were no injuries;
- you did stop at the scene;
- you made an effort to contact other party.
We might be able to argument you did wait at the scene to contact the other party.
We also might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence.
It might be possible to work out a civil compromise to pay for the damages in exchanges for the charges being dropped.
Another argument includes that you made a good faith effort to contact the other party, but were unable due to factors outside your control.
In most cases, police don't observe the suspected hit and run driver as they have already left the scene before police arrive.
This means it could be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the driver of the vehicle involved in the hit and run.
Perhaps you have an alibi or some other type of evidence that cast reasonable doubt on the identity of the driver.
Contact Cron, Israels & Stark For Help
Under California Vehicle Code 20002, a felony hit and run causing injury is a serious issue that carries harsh legal consequences.
If you have been accused of being involved in a vehicle accident and you might be facing felony hit and run charges, you need to contact our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible.
If your case is under a criminal investigation, we can negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of charges through a process known as prefiling intervention.
Even in a situation where felony charges have already been filed, we can still negotiate for reduced charges or even a case dismissal. We need to review the specific details of your case to develop a strategy.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with a team of highly experienced lawyers that have a track record of success.
We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our office for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.