I hit someone’s vehicle/property and left! Now what?
Hit/Run Leave Scene with Property Damage (NCGS 20-166), as it’s called in the legal world, is a common charge these days. Usually when we hear about a hit and run it’s on the news and someone hit a pedestrian. Well in most cases, that’s not the norm. The cases we get calls about are usually someone hitting another car, did some minor damage, and just left. Other times it’s because they hit someone’s property (mailbox, fence, tree, etc.) and left as well. It doesn’t matter how minor the damage is, if you leave the scene, you’ve violated a law. It can be as minor as a scratch on someone’s bumper, or you made a dent in someone’s fence.
How serious is this charge?
Well, pretty serious! It’s a class 1 misdemeanor (check out our blog about the consequences of being convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor). Just know, that this is the least severe of the hit/run statues. If the accident causes serious injuries to the other party, that raises the charge to a Class F felony (read about consequences of felonies here).
What should I do if I leave the scene of the accident?
You should do a few things:
- Return to the scene if it just happened.
- Call the non-emergency police number for your area if you decide not to go back and let them know what happened.
- Call an attorney!
If you decided not to go back before the accident scene was cleared, an officer will eventually find you! They will serve you with the citation or may arrest you since it’s a criminal charge. If you turn yourself in or report it, then the officer investigating may make arrangements with you, so you don’t need to be arrested.
What are my options in court if I am charged with a Hit and Run?
Assuming that you were only charged with the misdemeanor offense then you have some options available so there aren’t too many negative implications.
- Complete dismissal of the charge. This is not always possible and typically happens on rare occasions. The District Attorney will want proof that you paid for any damages to the other party, whether it a vehicle or their private property (fence, mailbox, etc).
- Reduction to a lesser charge. This is the more common outcome. Typically, the DA will agree to reducing your charge to an infraction if you can show proof that you covered the damages the other party incurred. You may still get points to your license and insurance, but you avoid a criminal conviction.
If you find yourself in this situation, call an attorney! This type of charge is difficult to handle by yourself, and the DA will not assist you in any way when you are in court. To insure you receive the best possible outcome, reach out to our office!