Charlotte Hit and Run Defense Lawyers
Under North Carolina’s traffic laws, drivers must stop when they are involved in an accident with another motor vehicle. Those drivers who do not stop after an accident face severe penalties for a hit and run. If you have left the scene of an accident and you are facing criminal hit and run charges in Charlotte, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.What is a Hit and Run in North Carolina?
Under North Carolina law, a hit and run happens when a driver knows or should know that they were involved in a car accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death to any person and does not:
- Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident, and
- Remain with the vehicle until the police complete the investigation or allow the driver to leave the scene of the accident.
North Carolina law defines a serious bodily injury as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, results in extended hospitalization, or causes permanent disfigurement or pain.Penalties for Hit and Run Accidents
Under North Carolina law, leaving the scene of a car accident in a hit and run is either a misdemeanor or a felony. The level of the criminal charge depends on the type of injury that happened and whether or not you have an existing criminal record.
Prosecutors will charge the hit and run crime as a Class 1 misdemeanor when the injury or damage that happened in the accident is minor. Those who leave the scene of a car accident in Charlotte will face misdemeanor hit and run charges when the accident causes damage, but it is not serious. Defendants convicted of hit and run misdemeanors face penalties of up to 120 days in jail as well as criminal fines.
When a hit and run accident causes serious bodily injury or death, prosecutors will charge the crime as a felony. When a hit and run accident causes injury, the defendant will face Class H felony charges that are punishable by between four and 25 months in jail, extremely expensive fines, and a suspension of the driver’s license. A hit and run accident that causes serious bodily injury or death is a Class F felony in North Carolina. Class F felonies are punished by 10 to 41 months in jail, suspension of their driver’s license, and expensive fines.Defenses to a Hit and Run Charge in North Carolina
The driver does not have to immediately bring the vehicle to a stop when remaining at the scene would place the driver or other people at a significant risk of injury. Drivers may remove the vehicle from the scene to call for a law enforcement officer, to call for medical assistance, or to remove him or herself from a significant risk of injury. If the driver does leave for a permitted reason, North Carolina’s law requires that the driver return to the scene of the accident within a reasonable period of time, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement officer.Defenses to Hit and Run Charges in Charlotte
When you are charged with a hit and run crime in North Carolina, it is important to hire an experienced Charlotte criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Certain defenses can help you fight hit and run charges. At Arnold & Smith PLLC, after evaluating the facts in your case, we will help you develop a compelling legal strategy.
Prosecutors must prove that the defendant committed a hit and run beyond a reasonable doubt. They must prove every element of the hit and run crime beyond a reasonable doubt to succeed in getting a conviction. Commonly used defenses in a hit and run case include the following:
- The defendant left the scene of the accident only temporarily to get help
- The defendant had a lack of knowledge and did not know that he or she was involved in a car accident
- The defendant did not commit the hit and run, but was falsely accused
- Someone mistakenly identified the defendant as the hit and run driver
If you are convicted, you will face a driver’s license suspension and jail time. You will also have a criminal record that could negatively affect your life in the long term. If you are facing hit and run charges, contact the North Carolina criminal law firm at Arnold & Smith PLLC as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation with our experienced legal team.