Leaving the Scene | Hit and Run in Pinellas
Did you leave the scene of a traffic crash in Pinellas County, FL? If so, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney about the best way to deal with the situation.
We can help deal with the situation. In some cases, it is better to come into compliance with the law before a law enforcement officer knocks on your door.
Section 316.027(2)(a), Florida Statutes, provides:
The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in serious bodily injury to a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062.
Section 316.062, Florida Statutes, explains the duty of a driver involved in a car crash to give information and render aid.
The penalties and punishments for hit and run depend on the way the crime was committed and the damage caused by the crash. For instance, hitting a mailbox without reporting the damage to the property owner is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
At the other end of the spectrum, leaving the scene of a crash causing death after a fatal car accident is a first-degree felony punishable by thirty (30) years in Florida State Prison.
Attorney for Hit and Run Crimes in Pinellas County, FL
After a crash, it is always better to remain at the scene until you have exchanged information or called for the police. If you made a mistake by leaving the scene, then a criminal investigation has already begun.
Don’t compound your first mistake by trying to represent yourself. Instead, call an attorney at Sammis Law Firm for help.
If the police have enough evidence to locate the vehicle or driver that left the scene, then we can contact the investigating officer before they come to your home or place of business for questioning. Depending on the circumstances, we can help you obtain a copy of the crash report and report the accident to your insurance company.
Our goal in these cases is to help our client avoid an arrest or criminal prosecution. If the authorities have already charged you with a crime, we can represent you at each stage of the case.
We represent clients accused of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage to unattended property, another occupied vehicle, or personal injury to another driver, passenger, or pedestrian.
The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are familiar with the tactics used by the hit-and-run units in local police departments including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Clearwater Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department, and Troop C of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Our offices are located at 14010 Roosevelt Blvd #701, Clearwater, FL 33762, near the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center (CJC) courthouse on 49th street.
Call (727) 210-7004.
Elements of Leaving the Scene of a Crash
To establish the elements of the offense of failure to immediately stop at the scene of a crash, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- was the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on either public or private property:
- the crash caused property damage or injury to a person; and
- the driver either:
- knew that he was involved in a crash;
- knew or should have known from all the circumstances, including the nature of the crash, of the property damage or injury to another person;
- the driver nevertheless willfully failed to:
- immediately stop at the scene of the crash, or as close to the crash as possible; and
- remain there until he had given identifying information to the owner of the property or any injured person and to any police officer investigating the crash.
See § 316.027, Fla. Stat.; In re Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases—Report No. 2015-07, 192 So. 3d 1190, 1202 (Fla. 2016).
The statute does not define the word “scene.” Although the courts have noted that the word “scene” is commonly defined as “the place of an occurrence or action.” Butler v. State, 297 So. 3d 691, 693 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020)(citing Merriam-Webster’S Collegiate Dictionary (11th. ed. 2003)).
Florida’s Statutory Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Crash
Under Florida law, the potential punishments for leaving the scene of a traffic crash depend on the way the crime is charged, the crash occurred, and the damages caused including:
- if anyone died as a result of the crash, you could be charged with a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison and a $10,000 fine;
- if anyone suffered injuries, you could be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine;
- if only property damage occurred to attended or unattended property, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail and a $500 fine.
For fatal car accidents in Pinellas County, FL, if you were driving under the influence (DUI) at the time of the accident and left the scene of the fatal accident, then you will be subject to a minimum mandatory four (4) year prison sentence up to thirty (30) years in Florida State Prison.
Obtain Accident Reports from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office – The accident report policy of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office allows you to retrieve the crash report if you are:
- a party to the crash;
- a legal representative or attorney for a party to the crash;
- the insurance agent of a party to the crash;
- the State Attorney’s Office;
- radio and television stations, newspapers; or
- any state or federal agency authorized to have access.
To retrieve a report, you must enter the last name of a driver involved in the crash, the date of the crash, or the report number supplied by the Deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at the crash scene. Others must wait at least sixty (60) days after the traffic accident to obtain a copy of the crash report.
Florida Highway Patrol Active Hit and Run Investigations – Visit the website of the Florida Highway Patrol to find an interactive map with the most recent hit and run investigations currently under investigation including hit and run crashes that occurred yesterday or earlier today. For active hit-and-run investigations in Pinellas County in 2022, select the Troop C link or Pinellas County on the table below the map for more information. Find a description of the date, time, and location of the crash, along with a description of the vehicle that left the scene or the suspected driver.
This article was last updated on Friday, September 2, 2022.