Leaving the scene of the accident is a serious crime in Ohio. And the sad thing is that many people commit hit and runs without even knowing it.
Ohio law requires that you stop, alert the authorities, and stay at the scene of an accident–even if it occurred on private property. You should never assume that you can leave, because you could get accused of hit and run. The police can and will track you down, especially if the accident caused an injury or serious property damage.
Depending on the circumstances, leaving the scene of an accident may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In either case, you need an experienced Ohio traffic lawyer to avoid criminal penalties.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP, we have a proven track record of helping clients avoid the consequences of hit and run, hit-skip, and other traffic infractions in Hamilton County, Butler County, Montgomery County, and all around Cincinnati, Ohio.
Call us today at (513) 338-1890 for a free consultation with attorney Brad Groene about your situation.
A Hit and Run Involving a Serious Injury Is a Felony
Ohio has three statutes that deal with leaving the scene of an accident. Ohio Revised Code section 4549.02 concerns crashes on public roads, section 4549.021 applies to accidents on private property, and section 4549.03 deals with collisions with buildings and other structures.
In each statute, the requirements are the same. You must:
- Alert the police
- Call emergency medical services (EMS) if necessary
- Stay at the scene until the police and EMS arrive
- Give the police your name, address, vehicle registration number, and proof of insurance
Leaving the scene of an accident on a public road or on private property is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail, $1,000 in fines, court fees, a driver’s license suspension. Not to mention a court order to pay back the victims. However, the fines and sentences increase sharply if the accident harms another person:
- Serious injury to other–When the accident causes a serious injury you will be charged with a fifth degree felony punishable by a six to 12 month prison sentence and $2,500 in fines.
- Knowledge of serious injury to other–When you leave the scene of an accident and you knew someone was seriously injured, the offense becomes a fourth degree felony involving a six to 18 month prison sentence and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Death to other–Leaving the scene of an accident that causes someone’s death is a third degree felony punishable by 12 to 60 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- Knowledge of other’s death–As with serious injuries, knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing death increases the penalties. In this case, hit and run is a second degree felony punishable by two to eight years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
In addition to the increased fines and prison sentences, felonies involve a loss of your right to possess firearms, and will result in severely limited employment prospects upon your release from prison. Therefore, it is essential to fight vigorously against felony hit and run charges.
An Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The prosecutor must prove every element of the hit and run offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that you may be acquitted if the prosecutor cannot show conclusively that you were in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident and that you were aware of the accident or the injuries it caused.
If the prosecutor’s case relies on witness statements, your lawyer can attack their credibility and reduce the weight the judge or jury will give their testimony.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP, we will fight for your rights at every stage to ensure that you get the best chance possible at a positive resolution. The sooner we intervene in your case, the more effectively we will be able to advocate on your behalf.