If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and left the scene before exchanging information with the other driver, your next move is important. It can be difficult to make a decision when your judgement is clouded by feelings of panic, but the next steps you take could potentially protect yourself from criminal charges and unfair prosecution, financial, or insurance issues down the line.
You may get contacted by the police, as they might want to question you. It’s recommended that you not speak to the police unless you have consulted an attorney first. While the police may have evidence that your vehicle was at the scene of the accident, they often won’t be able to prove that you were behind the wheel—unless, of course, you admit it. If you confess, you could be arrested or cited on the spot.
Secondly, don’t call to report the accident to your car insurance company without contacting an attorney first. Insurance companies can and will record calls they receive, and turn them in as evidence to the police, where it can be used against you in a court of law.
Depending on the severity of your specific case, you could receive a felony charge for a hit-and-run in Texas. By leaving the scene of an accident involving death or a serious injury, you could face a third-degree felony, which carries between two to 10 years in prison. If the injury is not serious, its still a felony that is punishable by one to five years in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run that caused damage valued at $200 or less, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. This carries a fine of up to $500. You can receive a Class B misdemeanor charge if damage equals more than $200, which is punishable by up to six months in a county jail.
The same rules apply when a hit-and-run encounter involves a parked car. This means that you can still be changed with a felony or misdemeanor if you hit a parked car and cause damage to the vehicle, or injure the person inside.
Tickets for hit-and-run charges in Texan can range. Depending on the amount of damage you caused, or how severe the other person’s injuries are, penalties for hit-and-runs in Texan can be up of $5,000 in some cases.
Generally, they will do whatever they can to track down the owner of the vehicle that was involved in the incident. Once they’ve found them, they’ll likely pay them a visit and attempt to question them. Depending on what the other driver wants to do, they may or may not press charges, which could include a court date, fines, and possible jail time.
Refusal to answer any questions posed by police, or to make a statement, will not harm your case in any way. In fact, you have the absolute right to abstain from making statements, to avoid incriminating yourself. If your case goes to trial, the prosecutor and attending officer isn’t even allowed to mention that you were asked questions, much less that you refused to answer.
Having a clean record can help when negotiating the terms of your case. However, if your case goes to trial, your lack of criminal history would generally be irrelevant.
If you’re the responsible party in a hit-and-run, you can expect your insurance rates to increase significantly. Just like normal instances where people cause an accident, insurance companies will see you as more of a liability and thus increase your insurance premium.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you have a better chance of getting it expunged from your record than you would a felony. However, there is no guarantee—there are some circumstances in which a misdemeanor cannot be removed. Your eligibility to have a misdemeanor charge removed from your record will depend on the severity of your charge, how long it’s been since you were charged, and how compliant you were with the terms of your probation. Your best bet would be to contact your attorney to get the most accurate information, as it pertains to your case.
In certain cases, defendants may be arrested on hit-and-run charges and held in jail until their court date arrives. How can you avoid this? A bail bondsman can help you get out for the time being, so that you can await your arraignment outside of jail. When an individual is arrested, they’ll be taken to the police station, photographed, fingerprinted, and booked. It can be a while before the jail’s computer system shows your loved one as being there, so it’s best to contact the jail directly after you’ve found out where they may be. After your loved one has been booked, they may be released from jail on a bail bond. For the fastest and cheapest bail bonds in Tarrant County, you’ll want to contact PCS Bail Bonds. We can be down to the jail in as little as 30 minutes, and have your friend or family member out as fast as possible.