Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage
When people hear the expression “hit and run,” it is often construed as running into another car on the road and driving away. While that is true, the law actually applies to a wider range of behavior. For example, if you are driving and run into a telephone pole or a mailbox and do not stop, you have committed a hit and run. Or, if you hit a car in a parking lot while the driver is not in the car, leaving the scene would also count as a hit and run. In these situations, you may not leave the scene. You are required to stop, contact the police, and provide your personal information.
Chapter 90, section 24(2)(a) criminalizes leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in damage to another vehicle or property. The statute requires that the driver not only stop at the scene of the accident, but also to provide his name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other driver or a police officer at the scene. The purpose of this requirement is to make it easy to identify the individual responsible for the accident. You do not comply with the law by stopping away from the scene or providing your information at a later date.
In order to convict an individual of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage, the prosecutor must prove five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that the defendant operated a motor vehicle.
Second, that the defendant operated the vehicle on a public street or way. This means any street or area to which the public has access.
Third, that while the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused damage to another vehicle or property either by colliding with it or in some other way. The degree of damage caused is not relevant, unless it was so small as to not give the defendant notice that he or she had actually damaged any property.
Fourth, that the defendant knew that he or she had collided with another’s property or had caused damage to another’s property.
Fifth, that after causing the damage, the defendant did not stop and provide his or her name, home address, and the vehicle’s registration number. The defendant must give this information to either the individual whose property was damaged or to a police officer at the scene of the accident.
Punishment for a conviction ranges from a fine of $20 to $250, and imprisonment for 2 weeks to 2 years, or both for a first offense. In addition, a 60-day license suspension is imposed. These penalties increase for second and subsequent offenses.
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, you should take these charges seriously. You want to avoid the penalty of a conviction, and it is also important to protect your record. Losing your license will dramatically impact your daily life, and having a conviction on your record could affect future job applications, naturalization and immigration status, and professional license applications. The best way to fight these charges is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney assist you.
At the law firm of Altman & Altman, we have a team of expert criminal defense attorneys who are ready to represent you and get you the best result possible. Our attorneys are experienced and dedicated to our clients. We will investigate your case, devise a defense strategy aimed at achieving your goals, and then we will advocate for your interests in court.
We have offices in Boston and Cambridge, allowing us to serve clients throughout the greater Boston area. We are also available to meet with our clients at any other convenient location. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and your options going forward.