In the State of Florida, it is a felony to leave the scene of an accident if someone was injured or killed in the accident. This is also commonly referred to as Hit and Run. Drivers have a duty to remain at the scene to exchange information and render aid if someone was injured.
My name is Tim Flaherty. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. We are Crestview leaving the scene of an accident lawyers who defend our clients as a team. Call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 398-8098 and let us help you.
What duty do I have after an accident in Crestview?
Florida Statute 316.062 lists the requirements that drivers must comply with after being involved in an accident. The statute states that everyone involved must remain on scene and provide their driver’s license, registration, name and address. The statute also specifically requires that drivers must render aid to any person injured in the crash.
What should I do if the police want to question me about a Hit and Run in Crestview?
If someone was injured or killed in an accident, the police are going to investigate. They will be under a lot of pressure to find out who the driver is so that the person can be held accountable for the accident. So, if the police knock on your door or call you to “ask you a few questions”, it is very important that you clearly and unequivocally tell them you will NOT answer any questions without an attorney present.
When does Leaving the Scene of an Accident become a Felony?
There are three scenarios where a Hit and Run can be charged as a felony. They are:
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Injury
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Death
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Injury in Crestview
If anyone in the accident was injured in any way, a driver must comply with Florida Statute 316.027(2)(a) and provide the required information along with rendering any aid that is needed.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Injury, that is not serious bodily injury, is a 3rd degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison. Your driver’s license can also be suspended for at least 3 years if convicted.
Under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, this charge is a Level 5 offense that scores 28 points. This is below the 44 point threshold for a mandatory prison sentence. You can read more about this on our Felony Sentencing page, but if the State adds victim injury points to the scoresheet, the sentence would be calculated as follows:
If moderate injury points are added:
28 points + 18 injury points = 46. 46 – 28 = 18. 18 x 0.75 = 13.5 months in prison as a minimum sentence.
If severe injury points are added:
28 points + 40 injury points = 68. 68 – 28 = 40. 40 X 0.75 = 30 months in prison as a minimum sentence.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury
The previous section discussed injuries that are not considered life-threatening. However, under Florida Statute 316.027(1)(a) Serious Bodily Injury is defined as:
“an injury to a person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.”
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also carries at least a 3 year driver’s license suspension.
Under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, this charge is a Level 6 offense that scores 36 points. This is below the 44-points required to trigger a mandatory prison sentence under the guidelines. You can read more about this on our Felony Sentencing page, but the State can add victim injury points to the scoresheet that will raise the points above 44 points. If such points are added, the sentence would be calculated as follows:
If moderate victim injury points are added:
36 points + 18 injury points = 54. 54 – 28 = 26. 26 x 0.75 = 19.5 months in prison as a minimum sentence.
If severe victim injury points are added:
36 points + 40 injury points = 76. 76 – 28 = 48. 48 x 0.75 = 36 months in prison as a minimum sentence.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Death
If you were in an accident where someone died, and the circumstances of the accident suggest that you knew, or should have known, that someone died or suffered serious injury, the State can charge you with Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Death. This charge is a first degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, this charge is a Level 7 offense, scoring 56 points.
A conviction for a Hit and Run involving a death also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in prison. If the State can prove that you were driving under the influence at the time of the accident, there is an additional 4 year mandatory minimum sentence that can be added to the other 4 year sentence, raising the mandatory sentence to 8 years.
Unlike the other Leaving the Scene charges, where victim injury points are added, when there is a death, the State can add 120 death points to the scoresheet. The sentence is calculated as follows:
56 points + 120 death points = 176. 176 – 28 = 148. 148 x 0.75 = 111 months in prison as a minimum sentence.
How can an attorney defend me if I am charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Crestview?
I have been defending serious felony cases in Crestview and throughout Okaloosa County since 2001. My partner, Brandy Merrifield, has worked with me since 2007. We have learned that no two cases are exactly the same. However, we will build a customized defense that fits the unique circumstances of your case that includes a careful review of the following:
- Was the injury serious enough to qualify as “serious bodily injury”? We have defended cases in the past where broken bones were NOT deemed serious enough to qualify for this enhanced charge. Raising that issue at a Motion to Dismiss hearing can mean the difference between probation and a prison sentence.
- Can the State prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you willfully left the scene of an accident with an injury or death? In order for the State to meet their burden of proof, they must be able to prove that you knew, or should have know, that you knew that a death or serious injury resulted from the accident.
- Do you qualify for a downward departure sentence? This page discussed scenarios where the sentencing guidelines call for a mandatory prison sentence. Fortunately, even in those situations, a creative sentencing memorandum and a persuasive presentation at a sentencing hearing may convince the judge to issue what is called a Downward Departure sentence. You can read more about that here, but basically, a downward departure allows the Judge to ignore the sentencing guidelines and sentence you to something less.
Obviously, we can’t guarantee what the result in your case will be. However, we can guarantee that Flaherty & Merrifield has the experience and the expertise to know how to defend you if you’ve been charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Crestview. We know that your freedom is on the line and we take that very seriously.
Contact a Crestview Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Injury, Serious Bodily Injury, or Death in Crestview, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 398-8098 for a free consultation.