Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
im in trouble
Hi, thank you for your question.
my car got taken in for hit and run last night
what do i do
Are you alleged to have caused the hit and run?
i haven't spoken to the police yet but i assume so
i have been too scared to call the police station
Were you actually the one driving?
this is confidential?
Well, we set the conversation to "private" once we are finished, so no one else can see it, but there isn't an attorney-client privilege, so if you're concerned, let's avoid
let's avoid confidential information any way.
should i call the station?
can they arrest me?
or put me in jail?
Let me collect a bit more information, if I may. How did you learn that your car was taken in by the police?
i went to look for my car this morning and it wasnt in the lot so i called the towing company. they told me
Ok. Do we know if anyone is alleged to have been hurt?
no i do not know
unlikely tho but i dont know
Do we know how badly your vehicle was damaged as a result of the alleged collision?
not bad. i know that much
Ok, that's good.
Do you have a prior criminal record?
but it was taken by the towing company
is there a way to negotate the charge down?
if there is one?
Ok, the first thing that I want to tell you is to take a deep breath. We're going to answer the questions one at a time to avoid confusion.
Let me give you the good news first. For a first-time offender with no bodily injury and minor property damage, there is normally no jail time for a hit-and-run. The punishment is usually just a fine with probation.
ok. is it a criminal charge?
It is a criminal charge, but it's not an especially serious charge. As you probably know, some charges are much more serious than others. So even if the outcome is a worst-case scenario of a conviction, a defendant wouldn't expect to go to jail.
is there a way to avoid or negotate out the criminal charge? I'm in school and worried about what will happen
Naturally, nobody wants a criminal conviction, but you may be surprised to learn that approximately 1/3 of the U.S. adult population has at least a misdemeanor on their record, and most of those folks are gainfully employed, productive, contributing citizens. There are two types of people in the criminal justice system. On one hand, there are those that are in and out of the system their entire lives. On the other hand, there are those that make a mistake, get slapped on the wrist, and move on with their lives. Before we talk about negotiating charges, let's discuss the appropriate course of action when a criminal charge is potentially pending.
also should i call the station? or wait till tuesday and have a lawyer?
When facing potential charges, the rule is never talk to the cops. If they call, hang up. If they come to the door, don't answer.
Communications should only be made through an attorney.
I have a video for you to watch once we finish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik
ok thats what i thought
The video is a bit long, but it will clearly explain why it is so crucial that you not talk to law enforcement.
i am scared as hell. i dont want to get kicked out of school
What type of school do you attend?
they have no proof it was me driving i think
or my neighbour
For a hit-and-run without injury, first time offense, getting kicked out of medical school is not ever expected. I've seen people charged with a lot worse and are allowed to remain in school, get licensed to practice medicine, and continue doing so.
You are exactly right about the proof, which is why the rule is to not talk to the police.
thank you im still shaking
and very very sad
The state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Oftentimes, that cannot be accomplished without the defendant's "cooperation".
so i will wait till tuesday then when i have an attorney?
It's ok to feel those things, but a hit-and-run without bodily injury is not the type of crime that is likely to derail anyone's life.
Yes, unless you can find an attorney over the weekend.
thank you thank you
i cant i called 10 places. do you have any recommendations?
Seriously, I worked in a District Attorney's office, and we had staff members with hit and runs on their record.
ok. i'm just scared
Because it's the holiday weekend, you are likely to have a very difficult time finding someone until Tuesday. I don't have any recommendations.
ok. i will wait and try then.
Again, it's normal to be scared, but I can promise you that three years from now, you will be able to laugh at how scared you are right now.
so i wont know what i'm allegedly charged with if at all till then
as long as i dont lose school
is there a way to negotiate out the charge if there is one?
The police may try to contact you before you have a chance to speak with an attorney. The 5th Amendment guarantees that we don't have to answer their questions. I strongly recommend watching that video.If someone is actually charged with a hit-and-run, it's always possible that the District Attorney may negotiate reducing the charge. However, because a hit-and-run is considered such a low-level offense, there's not much to negotiate down. To give an example, if you were charged with reckless driving, you might be able to negotiate the charge down to speeding. But with a hit-and-run, first-offense, no bodily injury, there's not much to negotiate down. It's just not that serious a crime.
ok. thank you so much. i'm so glad you are here online answering questions
it helps put my heart at ease
i hope no one was hurt.
if there was some kind of injury what then?
At this point, you haven't even been charged. The District Attorney isn't going to waste their time prosecuting a case unless they believe they have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Take it one step at a time, don't worry about what hasn't happened, watch the video, set an appointment with a criminal defense attorney, and in the meantime, don't talk to the police.
If there was an injury, the charge would be more severe, but what reason do we have to believe that anyone was hurt?
dont think so but not sure
i dont want to lose school.
with injury will that be enough for school loss?
Well, it would likely depend on the extent of the injury. If you killed someone, the school would probably take action.
ok but if not that then it should be ok?
i dont know
A school will consider the totality of the circumstances. It's not a black and white situation. The more seriously someone is injured, the more relevant a hit-and-run would be.
i just dont know
i will wait till tuesday and get a great attorney
You can really drive yourself crazy worrying about what you don't know. There's really no limit to what you don't know. So I recommend focusing on what comes next and not worrying about what may or may not happen 15 steps down the road.
thank you. really from the bottom of my heart
It's my pleasure. I'm glad that I could help.
yes. i'm trying to study for boards and this is weighing extremely heavily on me as you can imagine
i will watch the video and i did not talk to anyone
Messing up your boards will probably have more of an impact on your career than getting a first time hit-and-run with no bodily injury.
So consider your priorities. :-)
ok i will. i am worried about injury but i just dont know
thank you again
with injury is that jail time
It was my pleasure, and I wish you the best.
It would depend on the extent of the injury. They probably wouldn't seek it over a sprained wrist.
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