Hit and Run

Charged With a Hit and Run?

Hit and run accidents are the result of one party causing damage to another party’s property or person and fleeing the scene before producing the proper driver documentation. Hit and run charges are a “wobbler,” meaning they can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness of the accident.

By state law, the driver of any motor vehicle that has been involved in an accident or collision, regardless of the level of seriousness or extent of injury, must stop, find the owner of the damaged property and produce his or her driver documentation. Failing to do so could result in criminal charges being filed for a hit and run offense. If you have been arrested or charged with a hit and run, you should contact Damian Siwek, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, at DCS Defense to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Hit and Run: Property Damage

Under California Vehicle Code Section §20002, when an accident results only in property damage (including motor vehicles), the driver must stop and locate owner or person in charge and exchange driver documentation. If the owner of the damaged property cannot be located, the driver is not permitted to leave the scene of the accident until the following actions have been completed:

  • Leave a note with facts surrounding the case and driver documentation information.
  • Report the accident to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or local police.

The best way to avoid a California Hit and Run charge is to stop after an accident or collision and immediately exchange your driver documentation. This is critical. If the damaged property is unoccupied, leaving a visible note with your contact information and facts surrounding the case is acceptable. In all cases, the police must be notified.

Driver documentation includes:

  • Full name
  • Valid license number and state of issuance
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Insurance carrier’s name, address, telephone number and policy number.

Hit and Run: Injury or Death

Under California Vehicle Code Sections §20001, §20003, and §20004, any accident that involves injury or death requires the driver to perform all actions included in Section §20002 plus render reasonable assistance to the injured party or parties.


Hit and run charges can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the seriousness of the accident (injury or no injury), extent of damage, and defendant’s past criminal record.

  • Misdemeanor Hit and Run - For minor traffic accidents, such as fender benders and other property damage with no physical injuries, a misdemeanor charge is the most likely charge. According to state law, a hit and run misdemeanor is defined as, “a failure to immediately stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in property damage.”
  • Felony Hit and Run - When hit and run results in bodily injury or death, a felony will be charged. According to state law, a hit and run felony is defined as, “a failure to immediately stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving death or permanent injury to any person(s) associated with the accident.”

Penalties for a misdemeanor will range from no jail time (plus fines and restitution) to 180 days in county jail and, with more serious felony cases, time in state prison.

We Can Help

At DCS Defense, we are experienced in defending hit and run cases. For first time offenders, our clients rarely serve jail time. In some cases, we work out an agreement with the victim, Judge, and District Attorney, called a “civil compromise,” which results in a dismissal of the hit and run criminal proceedings.

For aggressive and effective representation against hit and run charges, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.