Being charged with an offense as serious as hit and run can be very stressful. You may be unsure of what you will face in court and frightened at the prospect of jail time or other serious penalties. We can help you understand the process and assist you in getting the best possible outcome.
Under Tennessee traffic laws, when you are involved in an accident you must stop your vehicle. When you fail to stop you may face criminal charges. Facing any sort of criminal charge is stressful. You know the stakes are high, even for a relatively minor charge, a permanent criminal record can result, and cause you real difficulty in your life and your future.
Maybe you made a mistake and panicked in a stressful moment. When an automobile accident happens, your adrenaline starts pumping and this rush sometimes can cause you to not think clearly. Most people tell us this is why they didn’t stop following the accident. Everyone makes mistakes.
Or maybe the case against you is the mistake. It could be a mistaken witness or a willful manipulation of the truth. In that case, we need to get the facts out and fight so you can walk away with a not guilty. Whatever the case, we can help. But we need to hear about your case from you first.
Duty to Stop
There are certain things you are required to do following your involvement in a car accident. The law dictates these requirements, which is why it is a criminal offense to neglect them.
When you are involved in an accident you must:
- Stop as soon as possible and return to the scene;
- Exchange information with the other driver; and
- Wait for authorities to show up.
If someone is injured in the accident you must provide reasonable assistance and do all that you can to ensure emergency personnel are dispatched.
Ref: TCA 55-10-103
Hit and Run Laws & Penalties
If you fail to comply with your “duty to stop” you may be charged with hit and run. The severity of the hit and run charge depends on the seriousness of the accident.
If the accident only resulted in damage to the vehicle and…
The damage was less than $400
- You face Class C misdemeanor charges and a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail, driver’s education classes, and a fine of $50.
The damage was more than $400
- You face Class C misdemeanor charges and face a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail, license suspension, and a fine of $50.
If the accident resulted in physical injury or death…
- You face Class A misdemeanor charges and a potential sentence of up to 1 year in jail, license suspension and fines up to $2,500.
If the accident was bad enough that the court determines you should have known it would cause death, you may be facing serious felony charges and a potential sentence of 1-6 years in prison.
Ref: TCA 55-10-101
Beating a Hit and Run Charge
There are many possible defenses for someone accused of a hit and run. It could be a mistaken identity. The prosecutors can also “overcharge” the crime, it cases where there is no real injury, or the damage is minimal.
Or very often, you simply made a mistake and panicked. It is simply not a situation where there is any justice in saddling you with a permanent criminal record. Avoiding a record that will show up on a background check is almost always the primary goal in our defense strategy and negotiation.
Either way, you need someone in court defending you and explaining your side. We fight criminal traffic charges like hit and run all the time in Tennessee criminal courts.
The police are investigating a hit and run. They have identified my car and want to talk to me. What should I do?
It is a mistake to speak to the police without talking to an attorney first. It’s common for the police to get a license plate from a witness, or maybe a camera or video. But even if they positively identify that your vehicle was involved, it is still difficult for them to prove that you were driving without an admission. That’s what they are trying to do.
Do not admit to anything, or even talk to the police. It will only make your case more complicated, and the criminal implications more serious.
An attorney can sometimes get the problem resolved with the police and your insurance company, without admitting to any crime.
Get a legal consultation on Hit and Run Charges in Tennessee
When the potential for jail time exists you want to be sure you have the best possible legal counsel you can on your side.
We want to talk to you about your case, and tell you what you how we can help you fix your legal problem. Call for a consultation today, there is no obligation for our legal advice.