Leaving the Scene of an Accident – Injury/Death
Pinellas County, Florida Hit-and-Run with Injury or Death
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death or Personal Injury
Any driver who is involved in an accident that involves death or personal injury is required by Florida law to stop and remain at the scene of the accident until he meets the requirements of Florida Statute Section 316.062. These duties include:
- Providing his name, address and registration number of the vehicle he was driving;
- Exhibiting or displaying his driver’s license;
- Rendering aid to any person injured in the crash. In the event, a person is deceased as a result of the accident, or their injury is such that they are not in a condition to receive the information they are otherwise entitled, the driver is required to promptly report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury
If you “willfully” and “intentionally” leave the scene of an accident on private or public property which results in an injury to a person that is non-serious, you may be arrested and charged with a violation of Florida Statute 316.027(2)(a). This charge is a felony of the third degree and carries a maximum possible penalty of up to five years in state prison and a $5,000.00 fine. There is also a minimum mandatory driver’s license revocation of 3 years, pursuant to Florida Statute 322.28(4)(b).
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury
If you “willfully” and “intentionally” leave the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury you are subject to being arrested and charged with a violation of Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(b). This charge constitutes a felony of the second degree. If convicted of this criminal offense, the charge carries a state prison sentence of up to 15 years, and a statutory fine of up to $15,000. There is also a minimum mandatory driver’s license revocation of 3 years.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death
If you “willfully” and “intentionally” leave the scene of an accident involving death you are subject to being arrested and charged with a violation of Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(c). This charge constitutes a felony of the first degree. If convicted of this criminal offense, the charge carries:
- A mandatory minimum Florida state prison sentence of 4 years;
- A minimum mandatory driver’s license revocation of 3 years;
Read more about the impact of a felony conviction.
Was the Victim Considered a “Vulnerable Road User”?
Penalties for Leaving the scene of an accident or death become further enhanced under Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(f) if the victim falls under a prescribed list of those considered “vulnerable road users.” This includes, but is not limited to pedestrians and persons working on highways. It also includes those victims who had been riding a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, moped or horse. Or, someone riding a skateboard or wearing skates. (roller or inline) In addition, a “vulnerable user” contemplates those persons operating an electric personal assistive mobility device or a common wheelchair.
How We Can Help
Are the Police Actively Searching for You?
If you believe that the police may be searching for you in connection with a current investigation in Pinellas County for the offense of “leaving the scene of an accident,” we can help. Depending on the unique facts and circumstances of your case we will formulate the appropriate strategy and provide you with our advice and guidance. For example, we may want to intervene on your behalf by:
- Determining which particular law enforcement agency would have proper jurisdiction over the matter;
- Discovering which police officer is assigned to your case;
- Contacting that police officer for purpose of exhibiting a spirit of cooperation and respect for the legal system; and
- Presenting mitigating facts in an effort to convince law enforcement that an arrest is inappropriate or in the alternative, a lesser charge would be in the best interests of justice.
The Benefits of Taking a Pre-emptive Approach:
- You may be able to avoid a humiliating untimely arrest;
- We can use your pro-active voluntary cooperation with the police as a defense to the charge. In the alternative, it can be used as a mitigating factor in our efforts to secure the most lenient sentence with the judge.
Did You Even Realize Someone had Been Injured in the Accident?
Leaving the scene of an accident is a “specific intent” crime. In other words, you cannot be guilty of this offense if you were merely negligent. The “willful” language found in Florida Statute 361.027 places a burden upon the Pinellas County state prosecutor to prove that you knew or should have known that you were involved in an accident that led to bodily injury or death. The attorneys in our office will also want to examine the level of property damage in your case. There are times when minor property damage, coupled with limited interaction with the other driver can support an argument that our client never realized an injury had even occurred. Photographs of your vehicle, can at times, be persuasive. Such a defense, if appropriate, could result in a dismissal of your charge or an amendment a lesser offense.
Did You Merely Panic?
Being involved in a car crash can be a fear-provoking experience. Your heart rate surges, your blood pressure increases and there is a natural rush of adrenaline. The human body can take on a natural “fight or flight” biological response. This alarming organic stress response can lead a motorist to simply exercise poor choices. It is typically not until much later, after the motorist calms down, that he may better appreciate the fact that he over-reacted and may have aggravated the situation by leaving the scene of the crash.
We may also be able to point to extenuating circumstances or a highly emotional event that impacted your decision making skills at the time of your accident. (Examples include, a recent death or illness of a family member, a break-up in a personal relationship or a recent termination of employment.) Personalizing your unique circumstances can sometimes be a highly effective tactic that can contribute to the best possible outcome.
Preventing a Formal Felony Conviction
In addition to pursuing a reduction of your charge to a lesser offense, we can design a strategy in an effort to avoid a formal conviction. Achieving a “withhold of adjudication” would prevent you from becoming a convicted felon. Learn More About Avoiding the Stigma of Being a Convicted Felon.
Avoiding the Mandatory 4 Year State Prison Sentence
Where an accident results in a death, Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(c) provides that a driver who leaves the scene “shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.” However, legislation that went into effect July 1, 2014, (Florida Statute Section 316.027(2)(g)) enables us to petition the judge in your case to waive the prison term. Your judge has the authority and discretion not impose the four year prison term if we can show that:
- There is a lack of evidence to suggest that you were driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, and;
- A factor, consideration, or circumstance clearly demonstrates that imposing the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment would constitute or result in an injustice.
Meet with a former State Prosecutor to discuss the particular facts of your case. Our team of criminal defense lawyers can advise you as to the best possible strategy and inform you of your available options. The attorneys in our office are well experienced in the area of defending persons charged with leaving the scene of an accident cases arising out of Pinellas County. This includes all of the surrounding areas of Clearwater and St. Petersburg.