How to Beat a Hit and Run Charge: Defense Tactics
Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be an incredibly stressful and scary experience.
Even if you weren’t at fault, you might find yourself facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit if the other driver claimed you fled the scene. Defending yourself against a hit-and-run charge is difficult but not impossible.
In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of hit-and-run laws and charges, as well as key defense tactics for how to beat a hit and run charge.
Duties After a Crash: Minnesota Statutes on Driver Requirements
Minnesota law places certain legal requirements on drivers involved in any motor vehicle collision or accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage. These requirements, outlined in Minnesota Statute 169.09, include a number of responsibilities for information exchange and notification of owners of damaged vehicles or property.
The key requirements for drivers stipulated under Minnesota Statute 169.09 are:
Stop immediately at the scene or as close as possible without blocking traffic unnecessarily. Conduct a reasonable investigation to determine what or who was struck.
- If the collision results in injury, death, or damage to an attended vehicle, the driver must remain at the scene until they have fulfilled all legal information exchange requirements.
- Provide name, date of birth, mailing/email address, driver’s license details, insurance details, and vehicle registration number upon request to injured parties, drivers of damaged vehicles, police officers, or other investigating authorities.
- Render reasonable assistance to any injured individual.
- Even if details were already provided at the scene, the driver must provide insurance and agent contact information within 72 hours if requested by injured/involved parties or police.
- If a collision is with an unattended vehicle, the driver must locate the owner to exchange information or leave a written notice with contact details in/on the damaged vehicle.
- If the collision only caused property damage, take reasonable steps to notify the property owner and provide relevant contact/vehicle details.
- A driver is legally considered an agent of the vehicle owner in any collision, meaning the owner bears responsibility.
In summary, Minnesota law aims to ensure drivers fully exchange information, aid injured parties, and notify owners of damaged vehicles or property after any motor vehicle collision. Failing to properly fulfill these legally required duties can result in criminal or civil charges.
Defense Strategies for Hit and Run Charges
Being charged with a hit-and-run accident can lead to devastating penalties like license suspension, heavy fines, and even jail time in some cases. As distressing as these collisions and aftermaths can be, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney provides options to explore in building legal defense strategies.
There are several potential angles when considering how to beat a hit and run charge:
Dispute Being the Driver
The prosecution may attempt to use a vehicle’s license plate to identify the perpetrator. However, if the accused can credibly demonstrate they were not operating the car at the time, charges could target the actual driver instead. A traffic defense lawyer may help formulate proof you were not behind the wheel.
No Evidence an Accident Occurred
Without proof that any genuine property damage, injuries, or losses occurred, arguing no demonstrable accident happened could undermine allegations. The prosecution must furnish concrete evidence like witness statements, video footage, medical records, repair receipts, etc. Lacking such tangible documentation can deflate charges.
Counter Allegations of Fleeing the Scene
If falsely accused of leaving an accident, independent witness accounts that corroborate your version of events could help achieve dismissal. Photographing or filming an undamaged area immediately after a minor incident involving an unattended vehicle can also support defense claims.
Addressing a Genuine Emergency
Per Minnesota Statute 169.09 subd. 15, it is an affirmative defense if a driver left the scene specifically to transport an injured individual in the collision to receive urgent medical care, provided they notify law enforcement about the incident as soon as reasonably possible after facilitating emergency treatment.
Contending Lack of Accident Awareness
While a long shot, some motorists succeed in demonstrating sincere unawareness that an accident occurred – due to factors like loud music, distraction, vehicle blind spots, etc. Admitting fault or sharing insurance information can create legal headaches, so careful navigation is required.
The right defense attorney can show you how to beat a hit and run charge with one or a combination of these strategies tailored to the specifics of your case.
Penalties for Hit and Run Offenses in Minnesota
Minnesota law lays out escalating penalties for hit-and-run drivers based on the severity of damages and injuries caused by Minnesota Statute 169.09 sub. 14:
- Leaving the scene of an accident you did not cause where a fatality occurred is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- If the hit-and-run driver did not cause a collision that resulted in great bodily harm to another, the maximum sentence is 2 years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
- If substantial bodily harm resulted to another from an accident, the driver did not cause, the maximum penalty is 364 days in jail and a $3000 fine.
In cases where the driver did cause the collision:
- If bodily harm resulted, the driver faces up to 364 days in jail and $3000 in fines for leaving the scene.
- Leaving the scene of damage-only accidents or failing to report the incident altogether constitutes a misdemeanor offense.
- License suspension is also possible for those who willfully fail to properly report their involvement as required.
Contact Martine Law for Strategic Hit-and-run Defense
If you’re facing charges for an alleged hit-and-run accident, the lawyers at Martine Law can help. We have successfully defended clients against accusations of fleeing accident scenes and related offenses.
Our team thoroughly examines the facts of your case. We know Minnesota traffic laws inside and out. We build aggressive legal strategies to get charges reduced or fully dismissed.
We investigate defenses like:
- You weren’t actually the driver
- No proof an accident even happened
- You left to respond to an emergency
Contact us today and let our experience work in your favor.