Leaving The Scene of a Crash
Florida law provides harsh penalties for leaving the scene of a crash (often called "hit and run" or "leaving the scene of an accident"). If you are under investigation for this serious offense it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. Never make a statement to any law enforcement officer until after you have spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Leaving the Scene of a Crash Attorney in Brooksville, FL
Although the criminal offense of leaving the scene of a crash is normally charged as a misdemeanor offense, the crime is reclassified as a felony if any injury occurred. With offices in Brooksville, Florida, Attorney Ashley Aulls represent clients charged with misdemeanor and felony versions of the leaving the scene of a crash statute throughout Hernando County and the surrounding areas of Sumter County, Pasco County, and Citrus County. Call (352) 593-4115 today to discuss the facts of your case.
Information Center on Leaving the Scene of a Crash in Florida
- Distinction Between Attended and Unattended Property
- Elements of Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Attended Property
- Definitions in Florida's Leaving the Scene Statute
- Hit and Run Related Crimes
- Finding an Attorney for a Leaving the Scene Case
Florida Statute § 316.061(1) involves leaving the scene of a crash involving only damage to an attended vehicle or attended property. Charges under this statute apply if a person hits a vehicle driven by another person or hits other attended property.
If a person involved in a crash causes damage to an unattended vehicle or property, then the crime is punishable under a different statute, Florida Statute Section 316.063(1). See Colbert v. State, 49 So. 3d 819, 822 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010). The plain meaning of the word “attended” means to be present. Leaving the scene after hiting an unoccupied vehicle parked in a parking space would not qualify for prosecution under Florida Statute § 316.061(1) although it might qualify for prosecution under Florida Statute Section 316.063(1).
So the distinction between the two statutes depends on whether the vehicle or other property was attended at the time of the crash. By looking at the legislative intent behind the two statutes it becomes clear that Section 316.063(1) addresses crashes with “unattended” vehicles. In those cases, the Florida legislature did not require the vehicle's owner to be tracked down, but provides the alternative of leaving a note. Law enforcement officers investigating these crashes will often confuse the two statutes.
Florida Statute § 316.061(1) for Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Only Damage to an Attended Vehicle or Attended Property requires proof of the following elements at trial:
- The defendant was the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash;
- The crash resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property;
- The other vehicle or property was driven by or attended by another person;
- The defendant failed to stop at the scene of the crash or as close to the crash as possible and remain there until he or she had given “identifying information” to the driver or occupant of the damaged vehicle or person attending the damaged vehicle or property and to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash.
The standard jury instructions for the charge provide that: "If the State proves that the defendant failed to give any part of the 'identifying information,' the State satisfies this element of the offense."
The standard jury instruction under 28.4(a) for Leaving The Scene of a Crash Involving Only Damage to an Attended Vehicle or Attended Property under § 316.061(1), Fla. Stat., was originally adopted in 2013. The standard jury instructions include the definition to many of the terms in the statutory scheme for leaving the scene of a crash.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.062(1) the term “identifying information” means the name, address, vehicle registration number, and if available and requested, the exhibition of the defendant’s license or permit to drive.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.003(75) the term “vehicle” means every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
Felony charges for Aggravated Fleeing to Eluding can be charged under one of the following statutes:
- § 316.1935(4)(a) when it is alleged that the fleeing to elude occurred while leaving a crash causing injury or property damage to another.
- § 316.1935(4)(b) when it is alleged that the fleeing to elude occurred while leaving a crash causing damage to a vehicle or property then causing a second crash with serious bodily injury or death.
If you were accused of the serious felony of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Only Damage to an Attended Vehicle or Attended Property under Florida Statute § 316.061(1), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brooksville, Hernando County, FL.
Attorney Ashley Aulls represents clients charged with leaving the scene throughout Hernando County and the surrounding areas of Pasco County for Dade City and New Port Richey, Bushnell in Sumter County, and Inverness in Citrus County, FL.