Hit & Run

I’m charged with leaving the scene of an accident.   Am I going to be convicted? What is my defense?

The first place to look when charged with a crime is the California Jury Instructions, or CALCRIM. These jury instructions are what judges and juries use to decide whether or not to vote guilty or not guilty at trial. Although the vast majority of cases settle or resolve with a negotiated plea bargain, it is extremely important to know what the prosecutor must prove at trial in order to know precisely how to defend against these charges long before trial begins.

  1. Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Property Damage – Defendant Driver

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with failing to perform a legal duty following a vehicle accident that caused property damage.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
  2. The accident caused damage to someone else’s property;
  3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged];

AND

  1. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; OR (b) To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

The driver of a vehicle may provide the required information in one of two ways:

  1. The driver may locate the owner or person in control of the damaged property and give that person the information directly. On request, the driver must also show that person his or her driver’s license and the vehicle registration;

OR

  1. The driver may leave the required information in a written note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other damaged property. The driver must then also, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

The duty to stop immediately means that the driver must stop his or her vehicle as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances.

The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable.

You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant failed to perform at least one of the required duties. You must all agree on which duty the defendant failed to perform.

[To be involved in a vehicle accident means to be connected with the accident in a natural or logical manner. It is not necessary for the driver’s vehicle to collide with another vehicle or person.] [When providing his or her name and address, the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident.] [The property damaged may include any vehicle other than the one allegedly driven by the defendant.] [An accident causes property damage if the property damage is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the accident and the damage would not have happened without the accident. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.] [There may be more than one cause of property damage. An accident causes property damage only if it is a substantial factor in causing the damage. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the property damage.] [If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious or disabled so that (he/she) was not capable of performing the duties required by law, then (he/she) did not have to perform those duties at that time. [However, (he/she) was required to do so as soon as reasonably possible.]]
  1. Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Death or Injury – Defendant Driver

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with failing to perform a legal duty following a vehicle accident that caused (death/ [or] [permanent] injury) to another person.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
  2. The accident caused (the death of/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury to) someone else;
  3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that injured another person [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that another person had been injured];

AND

  1. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:

(a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident;

(b) When requested, to show (his/her) driver’s license, or any other available identification, to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident;

(c) To provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident;

[OR]

(d) To give to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident all of the following information:

The defendant’s name and current residence address;

[AND]

The registration number of the vehicle (he/she) was driving(;/.)

<Give following sentence if defendant not owner of vehicle.>

[[AND]

The name and current residence address of the owner of the vehicle if the defendant is not the owner(;/.)]

<Give following sentence if occupants of defendant’s vehicle were injured.>

[AND

The names and current residence addresses of any occupants of the defendant’s vehicle who were injured in the accident(;/.)]

<Give element 4(e) if accident caused death.>

[OR

(e) The driver must, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

The duty to stop immediately means that the driver must stop his or her vehicle as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances.

To provide reasonable assistance means the driver must determine what assistance, if any, the injured person needs and make a reasonable effort to see that such assistance is provided, either by the driver or someone else. Reasonable assistance includes transporting anyone who has been injured for medical treatment, or arranging the transportation for such treatment, if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if an injured person requests transportation. [The driver is not required to provide assistance that is unnecessary or that is already being provided by someone else. However, the requirement that the driver provide assistance is not excused merely because bystanders are on the scene or could provide assistance.]

The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of who was injured and regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable.

You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant failed to perform at least one of the required duties. You must all agree on which duty the defendant failed to perform.

[To be involved in a vehicle accident means to be connected with the accident in a natural or logical manner. It is not necessary for the driver’s vehicle to collide with another vehicle or person.] [When providing his or her name and address, the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident.] [A permanent, serious injury is one that permanently impairs the function or causes the loss of any organ or body part.] [An accident causes (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury) if the (death/ [or] injury) is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the accident and the (death/ [or] injury) would not have happened without the accident. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.] [There may be more than one cause of (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury). An accident causes (death/ [or] injury) only if it is a substantial factor in causing the (death/ [or] injury). A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the (death/ [or] injury).] [If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious or disabled so that (he/she) was not capable of performing the duties required by law, then (he/she) did not have to perform those duties at that time. [However, (he/she) was required to do so as soon as reasonably possible.]]

 

 

 

 

Whether or not you will be convicted of these charges largely depends on mounting a strong defense. We at The Hong Firm are committed to building a fierce defense for you – always in anticipation of trial.