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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27053
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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A few nights ago, I was in a car accident because I swerved

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A few nights ago, I was in a car accident because I swerved to hit a deer and ended up hitting a fence and the police arrived on the scene. They had suspected me of drinking and asked me to take a field sobriety test. I complied. At the end of the whole thing, I was not cited and the officer told me I would not be charged with anything. Can I be charged for anything at a later date reguarding this incident? I'm mainly worried about being charged for leaving the scene of the accident because I did leave my car to go for help because I did not have my cell phone with me. A lady gave me a ride to my house and she called the police, but I went right back to the scene of the accident, but the police were already there. The policeman had asked me why I didn't call the police. I told him I went to get help. As I stated, at the end of the whole thing, all information was taken, and he told me I wouldn't be charged with anything. I just don't want this to come back later.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am an experienced criminal lawyer.

Wnile technically speaking, you can still be charged with a crime until the statute of limitations runs out (in the case of a TN misdemeanor, up to one year from the incident), under the circumstances that you have mentioned, I don't think you will be charged with a hit and run. You have a defense to it. You couldn't call but went for help, got someone else to do it and came right back. And the police already know that's true.

The officer was almost certainly telling you the truth. He could have cited you on the spot. That he let you go and in the car, at that, speaks volumes. I think this matter is over.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, I didn't leave in my car, I left with the friends I had went to after the lady gave me a ride and we came right back to the scene. It was in the middle of nowhere on a dark road at night. I was alone and scared. I guess I'm just trusting the cop when he says I'm not being charged.


Who, if the decision is made, will decide to charge me after the fact?

The police officer makes the first decision. He either turns the file over to the DA for prosecution or he doesn't.

Though your reply changes certain facts, it doesn't change the basic ones. He could have arrested you or written you up on the spot, and he didn't. Your fact pattern shows me no reason for him to have delayed if he wanted to charge you with hit and run. To the contrary. Everything points to the likelihood that you can believe the officer.

Best of luck to you!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, in your opinion, I should probably not worry since nothing happend that night?

Right. I don't think you have anything to worry about.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The police had arrived and called a tow truck to take my car out of the spot it was wrecked. He had called the tow truck before I arrrived at the scene and on the wrecking bill, it said the car had been abandoned. Does that change anything if I still wasn't charged at the end of the evening?

No, i don't think it changes anything.

Legally speaking, of course, he could have always charged you for leaving, but under all of these circumstances, it would be way too hard for the state to convict you. I still think you can rely on his word.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Okay. I was just worried because that night, he said three times he could have charged me for leaving the scene. But, in the end, he didn't. So, your expert opinion, I shouldn't worry?

He's told you several times he could have charged you but made it clear he wouldn't. I have told you at least that many times that he could have charged you but that he didn't and wouldn't.

I don't know what more either the officer or I can tell you, except that you shouldn't worry.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX I asked earlier, if I WERE to be charged for any wrongdoing at a later date, would I be cited in person by a police officer or would I get something in the mail?

You'd almost certainly get something in the mail.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Who makes the final call for this? The police officer? His supervisor? The state of Tennessee?

The prosecutor makes the final call, if the officer turns the matter over to the prosecutor's office. This police officer has already told you he won't do that.

So have I.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I'm sorry for the repetitiveness. I've just never been in trouble. Worry wart, I am.

Yup, and you need to stop that. No news is good news. Keep telling yourself that. To me, it's very significant that he never took you in at the scene. There was no reason not to if he felt you should be charged, and nothing has changed since then.

Keep calm and stay busy. This isn't something you should worry about.
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