Accused of Fleeing the Scene of an Accident? Here Are Your Possible Defenses

You wake up in the hospital after colliding with another vehicle in a serious accident on I-95. You don’t remember much about the accident apart from driving a little too fast on the road — still slick from torrential downpour — and hydroplaning. You remember coming into contact with another vehicle, but it is not until you are notified by the police that you realize you are being accused of fleeing the scene of the accident. 

In Florida, the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash can vary from serious fines to prison time of up to 30 years in prison. That’s why it’s critical that you connect with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible to defend your rights. In this brief article, we’ll review just a few of the many defenses and strategies available to contest or minimize the potential consequences of a charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida. 

Related: Leaving the Scene: How a Hit and Run Can Result In a Felony Conviction 

Medical Attention Defense

One of the best defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and the defense you would likely utilize in the situation we described above, is that you were physically unable to report the crash. Under Florida Statute 316.064, a crash report is not required from any person who is physically incapable of making an immediate or a written report of the crash. 

This is a great defense because it will prove difficult for a court of law to fault you for leaving the scene when you were going to receive medical attention or were rendered physically incapacitated and unable to report the accident. It is worth noting that this defense may be available under any level of incapacity, including instances where a person may not necessarily have been brought to the emergency room by an ambulance. 

Proof of Damage

Another viable defense is the lack of knowledge that an impact occurred within persons or property. Knowledge of the accident is an essential element of Florida Statute 316.027 because an individual cannot “willfully” leave the scene of an accident without the awareness that an accident has occurred. You must have knowledge that your vehicle has caused personal injuries or property damage. 

Generally speaking, it seems like it would be easy to prove that you willfully left the scene of the accident; however, in reality, the State must be able prove that there is damage to someone else’s vehicle or property.  If there is no evidence indicating what your vehicle collided with, even if your vehicle is damaged, your conviction of leaving the scene could be discarded. 

Related: Leaving the Scene of an Automobile Crash in Florida

The Importance of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

More often than not, a “hit and run” is not a cut-and-dried situation. Other defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident include the following:

  • Dispute over the identity of the driver
  • Fear of an incident with the other driver
  • You stopped as close as possible to the scene of the accident
  • The failure to stop was not willful but was dictated by the circumstances
  • The assistance rendered was “reasonable” within the meaning of the statute

Even with this wide variety of defenses in mind, attempting to fight these charges without the help of a criminal defense law firm in Tampa could result in serious penalties, including hefty fines, mandatory driver’s license revocation, and a prison sentence. Don’t let a single mistake define the remainder of your life. If you’ve been involved in a hit and run that involved property damage, serious injury, or death, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney from The Rickman Law Firm who will review the specifics of your case and get to work on building a defense as soon as possible. 

For a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

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