Everyone succumbs to panic every once in a while. We all make mistakes. So what happens when someone succumbs to panic and makes a mistake right after an auto accident...and speeds away? Even worse, what happens when someone makes an innocent mistake, and finds out they’ve been wrongly charged with a hit-and-run?
Maybe it wasn’t their car, or maybe they weren’t able to find a place to stop. Maybe they were injured and were afraid that they needed to get to a hospital ASAP. Whatever the reason, I can help clear things up for you. My name is Daniel D. Hajji, and I’ve been a criminal defense attorney in Farmington Hills for more than 17 years. If you want to know what might happen to you if you committed a hit and run, read on.
The Definition of a Hit & Run in Michigan
In Michigan, people are legally required to immediately stop if they’ve been involved in a vehicle accident (‘immediately,’ of course, meaning as soon as you can safely stop). If a person does not stop after a collision, does not trade information with the other driver, or does not stay to render aid to an injured person until emergency services arrive, they have committed hit-and-run.
You’re required to trade the following information after a collision:
- Vehicle registration and insurance information
- Name and address of the vehicle’s owner (if not you)
Let’s say you’re in a car accident, and the next day you’ve been charged with hit-and-run. Do you have any options?
The Penalties of a Hit & Run in Michigan
A hit-and-run charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
- If there is vehicle damage, hit-and-run is a misdemeanor with up to 90 days in jail and $100 in fines
- If there is injury, hit-and-run is a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 in fines
- If there is serious bodily injury or death, hit-and-run is a felony with up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
Defending Yourself from Hit & Run Charges in Michigan
To convict you of a hit-and-run, the prosecution must prove that a.) you were driving and b.) that you willfully failed to stop, exchange information, or render aid. Possible defenses from hit-and-run charges could include proving that you did not willfully stop, or that you could not reasonably know about the damage or injuries suffered by the other motorist.
For example, say you were barely conscious after an accident. If your passenger thought you needed immediate medical attention, they might drive you to the hospital immediately after the accident in a panic. While technically a hit-and-run, you would not be guilty because you did not willfully leave the scene. By the same token, if you failed to exchange information because neither you nor the other driver saw enough damage to warrant it, then the other driver discovered damage later, you might be charged. However, you would not be guilty because you could not reasonably know that there was damage to the vehicle.
If you did not willfully leave the scene or you could not reasonably know of any damage to the vehicle or its occupants, it may be possible to reduce your charges or get your case dismissed outright.
After more than 17 years practicing defense law, I have the experience and case history to effectively fight for your rights. Let me protect your future—I’m available 24 hours a day and offer flexible payment plans, so everyone has access to a skilled defense lawyer. Call (248) 599-0054 today!