Hit and Run Charges in Charlotte
Car accidents are bound to happen, despite your best efforts or intentions to remain safe while on the road. How you handle the aftermath of a car crash is important. There are strict traffic laws in Charlotte requiring certain actions following any collision. North Carolina statutes expressly forbid you from leaving the scene of an accident without providing appropriate information or assistance. If not properly adhered to, your actions could be considered a hit and run. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you can expose yourself, your license, and your criminal record to extremely significant repercussions. With such harsh penalties involved, if you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Charlotte, NC, it’s critical to discuss the matter with a local hit and run defense lawyer.
Don’t take unnecessary risks if you’ve been charged with a hit and run. At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we’ve handled cases like yours, and we can help you through this. For a free and confidential consultation with a Charlotte traffic lawyer, call or submit the details via our online form.
Your Duty to Stop in North Carolina
North Carolina’s laws about your obligations following an accident are defined in NC General Statutes (NCGS) § 20-166. The law dictates that the driver of any vehicle who knows or reasonably should know that their vehicle was involved in a crash that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, injury, or property damage should immediately stop at the scene, and remain there until a law enforcement officer completes an investigation or authorizes them to leave. If the driver does leave for a suitable reason, they must return within a reasonable period, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement officer.
Once you have stopped, you must offer reasonable assistance to anyone affected by the crash. This includes drivers, occupants of the involved vehicles, and pedestrians. You must also divulge relevant information, such as your name, phone number, and auto insurance details. It is important to keep in mind that this obligation is also necessary in accidents that do not directly involve other people. For example, if you strike a person’s mailbox or a parked vehicle and cause damage, you must still stop, leaving the necessary information in an accessible location.
In North Carolina, everyone is required to stop after an accident, regardless of who caused the collision. Fault is irrelevant, and failure to comply may result in being charged with a hit and run for leaving the scene of an accident. The classification as either a misdemeanor hit and run or felony hit and run, in addition to the prescribed hit and run punishments, will depend heavily on the unique circumstances involved.
If you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident and believe the allegations to be false, contact a hit and run defense lawyer from our firm for help today. .
Misdemeanor Hit & Run
If you leave the scene of an accident that only results in property damage or injury and/or death but you did not have reason to know of the injury or death, you will be charged with misdemeanor hit and run. This is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying a maximum 120 days in jail and a monetary fine. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor hit and run in Charlotte, contact a misdemeanor lawyer from our firm today.
Felony Hit & Run
If you leave the scene of an accident where you knew or reasonably should have known that an individual was injured, the hit and run will be a felony. As a class H felony hit and run, the penalty range is between four and 25 months in prison. If the offense is heightened to a class F felony, which could occur if you cause serious bodily injury or death, the punishment range increases to between 10 and 41 months. If you have been charged with a felony hit and run in Mecklenburg County, contact a felony lawyer from our firm today. .
Charlotte Hit & Run Scenarios & Potential Consequences
Since several situations may constitute a hit and run charge for leaving the scene of an accident in Charlotte, it can be hard to conceptualize your exact set of circumstances. As local hit and run defense lawyers in Charlotte, NC, we have compiled a few common situations, the applicable statute, and what you may expect.
Failure to Stop or Remain at the Scene When Serious Bodily Injury or Death Occurs – NCGS § 20-166(a)
This constitutes the most severe hit and run charge in North Carolina. Applicable in serious accidents where the operator knew or should have known that an individual was seriously injured or killed. Establishing what you knew at the time can be an issue to be debated, but common examples may revolve around obvious signs of serious injury, or accidents at high rates of speed where sustaining substantial harm is extremely likely.
You may only leave the scene once law enforcement finishes their investigation and permits you to do so. However, a few exceptions exist. Remaining at the scene carries a substantial risk, or you need to leave to notify law enforcement or seek medical assistance. Please note that if you have to leave the scene to avoid injury or to alert the authorities, you must return, along with the car involved in the accident within a reasonable amount of time. Failure to stop or remain at the scene when serious injury or death is considered a class F felony, which is punishable with possible incarceration and the revocation of your driver’s license. To avoid these harsh penalties, contact a hit and run defense lawyer right away. .
Failure to Stop or Remain at the Scene When Bodily Injury Occurs – NCGS § 20-166(a1)
This level of hit and run deals with less severe injuries, but when some physical harm occurred. While serious bodily injuries are defined under NCGS § 14-32.4 as any harm that creates a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, coma, protracted condition of extreme pain, permanent or protracted loss or impairment of bodily function, or that results in prolonged hospitalization, general bodily injury would include any injuries outside of those listed under the statute. Therefore, if you are involved in a car accident where you leave the scene despite knowing or reasonably knowing that individuals suffered broken bones or even cuts and bruises, you will be charged with felony hit and run. A class H felony can bring with it time in prison, the loss of your license, and other collateral consequences.
Failure to Give Information or Assistance When Personal Injury or Death Occurs – NCGS § 20-166(b)
In addition to complying with the requirements of NCGS § 20-166(a) and NCGS § 20-166(a1), you shall also provide your name, address, driver’s license number, and the license plate number of your vehicle to the person struck, or the driver or occupants of any vehicle that you collided with, so long as the parties involved are physically and mentally capable of receiving such information. You are also obliged to render reasonable assistance. This includes calling for assistance if it is needed or requested. A violation of this portion of the statute is a class 1 misdemeanor with potential license revocation. This means that even if you stop, but fail to comply with your other obligations, you can still face hit and run charges. A hit and run defense lawyer from Randall & Stump, PLLC can help if you find yourself facing charges for violating this statute. Contact us today for assistance with your case. .
Failure to Stop/Give Information When Injury or Death is Not Apparent, or Only Property Damage Occurs – NCGS § 20-166(c)(c1)
Even if you did not know and did not have reason to know of another’s death or injury, or if the accident only resulted in property damage, you shall immediately stop at the scene, provide the necessary information, and remain with the vehicle until a law enforcement officer completes an investigation or authorizes you to leave. An exception to this is if remaining at the scene places you or others at significant risk. This statue applies to the majority of non-injury causing accidents, or situations where injuries were not immediately noticeable and only developed after the accident. Therefore, if you hit a car in a parking lot and left and then fled the scene, your offense will be charged as class 1 misdemeanor.
Failure to Notify the Authorities – NCGS § 20-166.1
Aside from your duty of care to other drivers, you are also required to inform law enforcement of your accident. According to NCGS § 20-166.1, if you are involved in a reportable accident, you must immediately, and by the quickest means of communication, notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. Failure to do so will result in being charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.