If you are involved in any form of traffic collision where there is property damage and you fail to perform your legal duties following that collision, you may be charged with a violation of Vehicle Code section 20002.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
- While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
- The accident caused damage to someone else’s property;
- The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged;
- The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:
- To immediately stop at the scene of the accident;
- To immediately provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].
The Defendant Was Involved in a Vehicle Accident While Driving
A vehicle accident or traffic collision occurs when a motor vehicle strikes or collides with another motor vehicle, person, animal or object. For this element to be met the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s vehicle had collided with another motor vehicle, person, animal or object.
While defendant was texting while driving, she did not see a car stopped at a red light. The defendant rear ended the motor vehicle in front of her due to her inattention of the road and its conditions.
The Accident Caused Damage to Another’s Property
For this element to be satisfied the prosecution must establish that the defendants motor vehicle caused damage to another’s property. Property damage is defined as willful destruction of another’s real or personal property. Property damages includes but is not limited to automobiles, a home and or any other possession. This could mean property which is owned by an individual, or owned by the public.
While defendant was texting while driving, she did not see a car stopped at a red light. The defendant rear ended the motor vehicle in front of her due to her inattention of the road and its conditions. As a result of the accident both vehicles were damaged.
In this example, the damage to the victims vehicle however slight would satisfy this element because defendants willful act of texting and driving resulted in damage to another vehicle. For this element to be met, the damage need not be severe. A simple fender bender or indent is enough.
The Defendant Knew That He/She Had Been Involved in an Accident that Caused Property Damage
This element is met when the defendant or an ordinary reasonable person in the defendant’s position knew or had reason to know that he/she was involved in a collision that caused damage to another person’s property.
While the defendant was texting while driving, she did not see a car stopped at a red light. The defendant rear ended the motor vehicle in front of her due to her inattention of the road and its conditions. As a result of the accident both vehicles were damaged.
In this example, the defendant and or any reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have actual and personal knowledge of a motor vehicle collision at the time of impact.
The Defendant Willfully Failed to Immediately Stop at the Scene of the Accident or Failed to Provide His or Her Name and current address to the person in control of the damaged property.
This element is met when(1) the defendant intentionally fails to stop after a collision, or (2) where the defendant refuses to provide identification to the driver or person injured by the defendant’s vehicle.
According to Vehicle Code§ 20002(a), the defendant of a vehicle may provide the required identification in one of two ways:
- The defendant may locate the owner or person in control of the damaged property and give that person the information directly. On request, the defendant must also show that person his or her driver’s license and the vehicle registration;
- The defendant may leave the required information in a written note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other damaged property. The defendant must then also, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.
Defendant rear ends a car that is stopped at a red light. After the defendant’s vehicle strikes the stopped vehicle. The defendant speeds off into the distance with the intent to not return to the scene of the accident.
Felony Hit And Run Vehicle Code Section 20001(a)
The same elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution for either a felony or misdemeanor. The significance difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is whether the accident caused injury or death to another person other than the defendant. If the vehicular accident causes injury or death, the defendant may be charged with Felony hit and run.
Vehicle code § 20002(a) and 20001(a), are a common cases that usually amount to one big misunderstanding. A few common defenses to either misdemeanor or felony hit and run are:
- There was no accident that ever occurred. The victim was under the mistaken belief that the accused or defendant hit his/her vehicle. A common case of mistaken identity.
- The defendant was not driving the vehicle involved in the accident.
- Defendant’s vehicle simply “bumped” another vehicle which resulted in absolutely no damages whatsoever.
- The defendant left behind a note on the damaged vehicle which stated his/her personal information to be contacted regarding the accident. However, due to an act of God such as heavy wind or rain, the note was nowhere to be found because of the wind, rain.
- The defendant was the only person injured.
- There was no injury or death to any other person involved.
Do not Wait! Call Now!
If you or a loved one have been charged with Vehicle Code § 20002(a) or 20001(a) do not wait. Call the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian have been successful in dismissing Vehicle Code § 20002(a) and 20001(a) cases.