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July 11, 2024  |  Posted by jesse  |  Bail Bonds

According to California law, it’s illegal to leave the scene of any accident that results in property damage or injury, regardless of which party was responsible. With that in mind, a hit and run is always a serious traffic offense that carries strict legal penalties. But, can you go to jail for a hit-and-run in California?

The simple answer is yes, but with hit-and-run offenses falling under two different Californian statutes, it’s not always easy to understand what that means for your case. In this article, we’ll deep-dive into California hit-and-run laws, and consider what they mean for you or a loved one in the wake of a hit-and-run offense. 

California’s Strict Stance on Hit-and-Run Cases

California’s strict stance means that hit-and-run cases are always treated as serious traffic offenses in cases where there’s damage to property or injury to involved individuals. California’s hit-and-run law also applies to both parties involved in an accident, regardless of who caused the accident in the first place. This is to ensure that relevant information is always shared at the scene of a crime, where both parties have a legal obligation to – 

  1. Immediately stop their car
  2. Provide the other party with their name and address
  3. Provide a driver’s license and car registration if requested
  4. Provide reasonable assistance to get medical care for any injured parties
  5. Provide relevant information to any police officers at the scene

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident and leave the scene instead of adhering to these stipulations, you may face legal action which could include misdemeanor or felony charges, as well as steep fines and penalties. This is true even if someone else crashes into you.

Hit and Run Laws In California: A Tale of Two Statutes

In California, hit-and-run offenses typically fall under one of two statutes, which will each lead to two different types of charges in a court of law. If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit-and-run situation, it’s important to know which statute the crime comes under so that you’re better able to prepare for your defense, bail amounts, and so on. The two statutes to consider in this instance are – 

  1. California Vehicle Code Section 20002 VC: Vehicle Code Section 20002 relates to misdemeanor hit-and-run offenses which involve a failure to stop and exchange information after an accident causes damage to someone’s property. This statute applies to damage that occurs on both private and public properties, and which is either minor or severe.
  2. California Vehicle Code 20001 VC: Vehicle Code 20001 relates to felony hit-and-run offenses that involve the injury or death of another person. These cases may be tried as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the severity of the situation, and the injuries sustained. 

Hit and Run Penalties in California

The hit-and-run penalties you or your loved one can expect to face in California will vary quite drastically depending on the situation and its outcome. As mentioned, any hit-and-run is a serious offense. Penalties for a vehicle code 20002 misdemeanor that involves property damage may include up to 6 months of jail time, two points on a California driving license, and fines of up to $1,000. 

Penalties for a vehicle code 20001 felony that involves permanent injury or death can include a minimum of 90 days of hit-and-run jail time in California, four years in prison, and fines of up to $10,000 as well as victim restitution. 

Understanding Hit and Run Convictions

Considering there are different statutes to consider, the legalities of a hit-and-run offense aren’t always easy to understand. But, it’s important to know precisely what a hit-and-run conviction entails to ensure the correct defense.

Speaking with a lawyer or bail bond company as soon as you or a loved one are arrested for a hit-and-run offense is your best option for ensuring advice and an in-depth understanding of the legalities involved. 

Mainly, you’ll need to understand which hit-and-run statute applies to your case, the possible bail or penalties attached to that statute, and any past precedents that could help to clear your name. 

Protecting Yourself From Hit and Run Charges

The best way to protect yourself from hit-and-run charges is to seek legal help and begin building a case as soon as you’re arrested. Securing pre-trial release by either paying your bail amount or using a bail bondsman can also help to put you in a better headspace, and get you prepared for trial. 

It’s possible to use a range of different defenses that could protect you from hit-and-run charges. Your lawyer is the best person to advise you on these, but defenses that have previously seen hit-and-run convictions turned over include – 

  • A lack of knowledge about the accident
  • Proof that you weren’t driving
  • Evidence of mistaken identity
  • The ability to prove that only your property was damaged
  • etc.

Consequences of a Hit and Run in California

As well as facing steep penalties and legal repercussions, being involved in a hit-and-run can have severe consequences on a defendant’s well-being. This is especially true when an accident results in the severe injury or death of another party. Spending extended periods in jail at this already difficult time can significantly worsen this distress, highlighting the need to secure the release of any involved in a hit-and-run as soon as possible. 

Fast bail payments are the best way to do this, as they allow a defendant to spend time with their loved ones, or even seek professional help such as counseling, in the leadup to a trial. Unfortunately, bail tends to be quite high in hit-and-run cases of this nature, meaning that working with a bail bondsman is the best way to achieve release without adding financial pressure at an already challenging time. 

At Balboa Bail Bonds, we’ll work closely with you and your loved one to secure a quick release after a hit-and-run arrest, all based on affordable financial plans that will never pile more stress onto your situation. Simply contact our team to discuss your options today. 


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