Hit-and-Run is a Crime in Florida: You May Have a Defense
While it won’t bring back the victim of a fatal collision, the driver in a Fort Myers hit-and-run car accident has been identified and police are still pursuing the suspect. As reported by NBC 2 First, the victim was a pedestrian walking along a roadway when he was struck by the suspect’s vehicle. The blow threw him into a water-filled ditch, where he was discovered sometime later. Now that they’ve identified the suspect, police are likely to apprehend him and charge him with hit-and-run in Florida, due to his failure to stop after the collision. A conviction for the crime of hit-and-run can result in severe criminal penalties, but there may be defenses to reduce the charges or dismiss them entirely.
What acts constitute a hit and run in Florida?
A motorist involved in a collision is required to remain at the scene of the accident, but the circumstances depend on the severity of the crash.
- If only property damage results, the driver must:
o Stop the vehicle as close to the scene as possible;
o Offer contact and vehicle information to the other driver and any investigating officers; and
o Leave a note and contact police, if the other car is unattended.
- For accidents involving injuries or death of another person, the driver is required to:
o Stop the car as close to the scene as possible;
o Offer contact and vehicle information to the other driver, if possible depending on the injuries;
o Provide contact information and driver’s license to investigating officers; and,
o Render reasonable assistance to the injured person, including calling 911.
Failing to abide by these statutory requirements may result in charges for hit-and-run.
Are there any defenses to a hit and run offense?
There are facts that may establish a defense to a hit-and-run crime, such as:
- Lack of knowledge of the other driver’s identity;
- Not knowing a crash or impact with people or property occurred;
- Certain circumstances preventing a stop;
- The other driver became belligerent, requiring you to leave the scene; and,
- Providing assistance that should be considered reasonable under the law.
What are the penalties for violating Florida hit and run laws?
The results of the car accident determine the punishment for leaving the scene of the collision:
- Property Damage – Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail, maximum $500 fine.
- Bodily Injury – Third Degree Felony: Up to five years in prison or probation, maximum $5,000 fine.
- Death – First Degree Felony: Up to 30 years in prison, maximum $10,000 fine.
Professional, Dependable Criminal Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
If you have been involved in a car accident and are facing charges for hit-and-run in Florida, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests in court. Kevin J. Kulik is a Fort Lauderdale lawyer with an extensive background in criminal law, who can fight for your rights and present defenses to ensure the best possible result in court. Please contact Kevin J. Kulik for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case in more detail.