LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT

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Hinman Law Blog

Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Hit and Run

Failure to stop and leave your name and identifying information after knowingly colliding with a person and/or object is a crime in Massachusetts. Even if you hit a parked car, you are obligated by law to leave a note with your contact information. The law imposes an affirmative duty to stop and leave identifying information. Stopping just to check for injuries is not enough. Even if you believed, in good faith, that your identity was known, this is not an adequate defense under the statute. The penalties for these crimes depend on the offense, and are listed below. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, and it is imperative that you have an experienced criminal lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.

Leaving the Scene of Property Damage

This is a misdemeanor offense, and can be charged if you hit any property or object and fail to stop and make your information known. For example, even hitting a parked car or a mailbox obligates you to leave a note with your identifying information. The state must prove the following to convict you of this crime:

  1. That you operated a motor vehicle on a public way;
  2. That while operating the vehicle, you caused damage to another vehicle or property either by colliding with it or in some other way;
  3. That you knew you had collided with or had caused damage to another’s property; and
  4. That after causing the damage, you did not stop and make known your name, address, and vehicle registration number.

Depending on the circumstances of the collision, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove that you knew that you had caused property damage, especially if the collision was a minor one. This crime carries a minimum jail sentence of 2 weeks, and a maximum of 2 years, and/or a fine of anywhere from $20 to $500.

Leaving the Scene of a Person Injured

If you hit and injure another person, and fail to stop or make your identity known, you are facing serious felony charges. The law applies to both pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles. In order to convict you, the state must prove the following:

  1. That you operated a vehicle on a public way;
  2. That while operating that vehicle, you caused injury to another person either by colliding with them or in some other way;
  3. That you knew that you collided with another person or caused injury;
  4. That after the collision, you did not stop and make your name, address, and vehicle registration known.

Conviction under this law carries a minimum sentence of 6 months in jail, and a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail. The statute also imposes a fine not less than $500. The extent of the person’s injuries is not relevant.

Leaving the Scene of a Person Injured Where the Injury Resulted in Death

If you hit a person and fail to stop, and they sustain an injury that results in death, it is absolutely essential that you hire a criminal attorney to protect your rights. This is a very serious crime and you will likely be indicted before a Grand Jury and facing state prison time. In order to be convicted of this crime, the state must prove the following, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That you operated a vehicle on a public way;
  2. That while operating that vehicle, you caused injury to another person either by colliding with them or in some other way, and this injury resulted in death;
  3. That you knew that you collided with another person or caused injury/death;
  4. That after the collision, you did not stop and make your name, address, and vehicle registration known.

The penalty for conviction of this crime is 2.5 years to 10 years in state prison, or 1 to 2.5 years in jail if the case stays in district court. There is also a fine not less than $1000 and not more that $5000, as well as license revocation. The statute states that a person convicted of this crime must serve at least 1 year in jail. Because a conviction under this law guarantees incarceration, it is critical to have an attorney try to negotiate a lesser offense on your behalf.

If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Natick, Needham, Dedham, Billerica, Framingham, Wayland, Sudbury, Westwood, Newton, Brookline, Boston, Wellesley, or anywhere in Suffolk, Middlesex, or Norfolk County, contact Attorney Hinman at 617-283-4480, or using the form to the left.