Leaving the Scene of an Accident Criminal Charges in Florida
In Florida, the law is extremely clear – you cannot leave the scene of an accident without facing serious repercussions. Instead, you must stop at the accident scene and stay there until you have given all of your information to the other individual involved in the accident or a police officer prepares a crash report. If anyone sustained injuries in the accident, you must immediately call 911 for help.
If you were involved in an accident and mistakenly fled the scene, you need a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law who can help you to fight the charges and develop the strongest and most effective defense strategy possible. Contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.
It is important to understand that hit-and-run traffic offenses are extremely common in Florida, however, the penalties associated therewith can be extremely harsh. The level of punishment in hit-and-run crashes depends upon the damages caused by the accident. Specifically, if a person leaves the scene of an accident that only involved damage to property (including unattended property such as a fence or attended property such as an occupied vehicle), then the crime is charged as a misdemeanor in the second-degree.
In some cases, a person can face felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident. The penalties associated with the felony versions of leaving the scene of a crash are determined by the type of injury that the other driver sustained. This includes: (i) non-serious bodily injury, which is a third-degree felony; (ii) serious bodily injury, which is a second-degree felony; or (iii) death, which is a first-degree felony.
In Florida, it is not a crime to leave the scene of an accident that did not result in damage to property, death, or injury.
The Requirements of Florida Statute Section 316.062
Under Florida Statute Section 316.062(1), a driver must stop at the scene of an accident, or as close to it as possible, and render the following information:
- address; and
- registration number of the vehicle that he or she was driving.
Furthermore, the law provides that upon request and if available, the driver must exhibit his or her license or permit to drive, to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in the crash and shall give such information and, upon request, exhibit such license or permit to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash.
Felony Versions of Fleeing the Scene of a Crash – Florida Statute Section 316.027
Felony offenses chargeable under Florida Statute Section 316.027 require the following proof:
- The accused was the operator of the automobile;
- The automobile was involved in the accident;
- The crash occurred on private or public property;
- The operator of the vehicle willfully failed to immediately stop at the accident scene or as close to it as possible; and
- The operator of the vehicle willfully failed to stay at the accident scene until he or he has complied with the requirements of Florida Statute Section 316.062, as provided above.
Fleeing the Scene of an Accident involving Bodily Injury – Florida Statute 316.027(2)(a)-(b)
If a person flees the scene of an accident involving non-serious bodily injury, the offense is charged as a third-degree felony. The penalties associated with a third-degree felony conviction include a prison term of up to five years, probation for five years, and a monetary fine of $5,000.
The offense can be charged as a second-degree felony if serious bodily injury resulted from the crash. Under Florida Statute Section 316.027(1)(a), “serious bodily injury” means “an injury to a person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.” The penalties associated with a second-degree felony conviction include a prison term of up to fifteen years, fifteen years of probation, and a monetary fine of $10,000.
The distinction between a serious and non-serious injury is often not clear in these types of cases. A seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney at Musca Law can help you to bring forth defenses to establish that no bodily injury occurred or that the bodily injury sustained by the other driver was non-serious as opposed to serious.
Fleeing the Scene of an Accident Involving Death – Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(c)
The offense of fleeing the scene of an accident involving death is charged as a first-degree felony. The penalties associated with a first-degree felony charge involve a prison term of up to 30 years, thirty years of probation, and a $10,000 monetary fine. There is a mandatory minimum of four years in prison for those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time when the crash occurred.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.027(20(g), the court may depart from a mandatory minimum prison term (this does not apply if a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident) only if it finds that “a factor, consideration, or circumstance clearly demonstrates that imposing a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment would constitute or result in an injustice.”
Contact Musca Law Now and Protect Your Life and Liberty!
Facing criminal charges in Florida can be frightening. The charges can be overwhelming, but it is important to understand that you do not have to face these accusations alone. The experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law are ready to stand up for you and your rights. We will work with you to develop the best defense strategy for your case. We offer a free and completely confidential consultation to our clients. Contact us today at (888) 484-5057 to speak with one of our attorneys and to learn how we can help.