Things can quickly slip out of control when you’re behind the wheel. Whether you glance off the road for a quick second or snow starts to cloud your view, there are thousands of ways you could accidentally cause a collision. If you’re involved in an accident in North Carolina, you are not legally allowed to leave the scene of the accident without providing your contact information. If you do leave, you can face harsh consequences that may permanently change your life and the lives of the people you love.
If you left the scene of a car crash in Charlotte, North Carolina, you need to hire a skilled-hit-and run defense lawyer to support you. At The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, we understand how stressed you might be about the potential penalties you’re facing, especially if the accident resulted in someone getting injured or killed. Kevin L. Barnett has over twenty years of experience handling complex criminal and traffic cases and is ready to bring his experience and knowledge to your unique case.
As much as we all want to assume we’re safe on the road, there are countless causes of car accidents. Common causes of car accidents to watch out for include:
If you’re in a road collision in North Carolina, you are legally required to stay on the scene. The law mandates that you immediately stop your vehicle, call the police, and remain in your vehicle until the police get there. You have to call the police after a car accident in North Carolina if someone involved in the incident was injured or killed or the property damage is more than $1,000. In some cases, your auto insurance might require you to call the police even if the damage is less than $1,000. When in doubt after a car accident, you should call the authorities.
It is against the law to leave after an incident on the road. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, like if you were in immediate need of medical attention, you have to get off of the road to call the police, or if it puts you in physical danger to stay. Even in these cases, though, you are still required to return to the scene as soon as you can or you may face criminal charges that have the power to change the course of your life.
When you’re at the scene, you are legally required to share your personal contact information. This information includes your full legal name, home address, driver’s license information, and the number on your license plate. You can share this with a police officer, the person driving the other car, or leave it on a piece of paper on the damaged vehicle if no one is in the car. If you leave the scene without giving this information, you will likely face charges.
Whether or not a hit and run is a felony in Charlotte is a felony depends on what exactly happened during and after the incident. For example, if you flee a scene where you caused minor property damage and no one was physically hurt as a result of your actions, you will likely face a misdemeanor charge. If you leave and have reason to believe that a person was injured or killed from the collision, or that there was significant property damage, you will face a felony charge.
The punishments you’ll face for a hit and run will depend on the severity of your situation. For example, if you cause minor property damage or bodily harm, your punishments will be less severe than if someone in the other car is permanently disabled. For instance, you can expect to face a maximum of 120 days in jail and pay monetary fines. While a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, it can still have a huge impact on your life and your record, so it is in your interest to consult with an accident defense lawyer about your legal options as soon as you hear about your charges.
If your actions in your car caused serious damage to someone’s property or body, you will probably face a felony charge. A felony hit and run is one of the most serious criminal convictions you can face, and it can have irreversible impacts on your finances, criminal record, and status as a driver. North Carolina takes hit and runs seriously, so a fierce criminal defense attorney is vital for defending your side of the story and minimizing your punishments.
If your actions behind the wheel caused someone’s personal injury and you left the scene of the collision, you will likely face either a Class H or Class F felony, depending on the severity of the injury. If the accident leads to a serious injury that requires long-term hospitalization or carries a high risk of death or disability, it is considered serious. For example, a person driving in a car that is hit by another vehicle could be at risk for a traumatic brain injury. Injured parties often seek compensation for personal injury to pay for their damages.
If you are facing a felony hit-and-run charge in Charlotte, you can expect to look at punishments like these:
Class H Felony:
Class F Felony:
North Carolina car accident laws are complicated, and you might even face charges for failing to provide medical assistance to a person injured from the crash. A legal professional can help walk you through all of the charges and potential effects.
When you consult with your criminal defense lawyer, you can present all the facts of your specific case and learn what potential penalties you can expect to face. A dedicated, experienced attorney can pour over the details of the case and work to build a solid case that reduces or eliminates the negative consequences you have to deal with.
North Carolina law very clearly articulates that you can’t leave the scene of a road accident if you knew it occurred or should have known that an accident occurred. However, there are a few defenses that you might have as to why you left. For example, you might have been unaware that the accident occurred, or you might have been concerned about the extent of your injuries and how staying at the scene might worsen them.
A skilled criminal defense lawyer can carefully look into the evidence from your case and build a defense. For example, they might be able to use a defense like one of the following:
You might feel like you have nowhere to turn, but a criminal defense lawyer possesses the experience and knowledge necessary to carefully navigate such a tricky situation and minimize the consequences.
Don’t let any fears or hesitation hold you back from contacting a lawyer to advocate for you after a hit and run. You need an air-tight defense if you want to protect your future after a hit-and-run charge. The right lawyer will strategically craft a strong defense that aims to help you avoid harsh penalties.
For instance, your lawyer can dive deep into the case and review evidence like surveillance footage, forensic evidence, and witness statements for any details that help build one of the above defenses. Your lawyer can also interview witnesses, which can provide priceless proof for several claims, like if you were in a different place at the time of the accident or if you had to leave the scene because of life-threatening injuries. Your hit-and-run defense attorney can also assist you to better understand the confusing world of criminal law, answer any questions or concerns, and help you understand what to expect from this process.
Many criminal defense cases in North Carolina don’t end up going to trial because plea negotiation and settlements can help avoid the lengthy process of a courtroom battle. However, if your case does go to court, your lawyer can come armed with their experience and research and aggressively fight for you to get the optimal outcome.
If you’re dealing with hit-and-run charges, you need a fierce criminal defense to protect your life as you know it. Our team at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett understands how frightening and isolating this time can be. These are rough waters to navigate, and you might be facing social isolation or processing difficult emotions during this period. You don’t have to go through this alone. No matter what happened when you were on the road, we can take the time to evaluate your case and craft a strong defense. Time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to contact us and see how we can support you.