Having done this for twenty-five years, I'm seeing more and more people becoming involved in accidents were a death occurs and then them driving away and the police having to catch them later. The police either do this by way of some sort of a video at the scene of the accident or an eyewitness who gets the license plate of the person.
Hit and Run Death Investigations
There's a variety of different methods they can use to track down a hit and run driver who ends up killing somebody on the Los Angeles streets. Sometimes these investigations take a while. I see them seizing people's cars, so they can find DNA evidence on the vehicle.
I see them going to businesses near where the accident occurred, so they can see what the vehicle looked at that was involved in the accident. There's a whole bunch of investigation techniques that are utilized by law enforcement in order to catch people who become involved in the hit and run accidents where a death occurs.
They also get accident reconstruction people out to the scene to try to figure out exactly what happened and why it happened, because when they catch the person that hit another vehicle and drove away, that person's going to be charged with felony hit and run. There are special enhancements that can apply depending on the circumstances that can cause the person to be sent to prison for a very long time.
Use of an Accident Reconstruction Expert
I've done many of these hit and run related death cases and it's imperative a lot of times that we get a good accident reconstruction person if there's any question as to how and why the accident ended up occurring. What's such a shame about it is a lot of these accidents I see either the person really wasn't doing anything wrong and all they had to do was stop and render aid to the person that they hit, or the person maybe ran a red light or made an illegal term and would not have been charged with a felony resulting in death where they're looking at prison time, probably would have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the act of running away ups the crime, ups the potential punishment and the person puts himself in a very bad situation.
That's where a good criminal defense attorney can help you to show the prosecutors – say wait a minute, here's what happened, here's why it happened. A lot of times there's an argument that the accident isn't even the person's fault who ran away. I've had dart-out cases where people are jumping out in the middle of the street at night and a person doesn't even see him, or someone riding their bicycle illegally in a position where the driver couldn't see them.
Unfortunately, an accident occurs, a death occurs, but the key thing is the other person has to stop and try to help the person that they ran over. If you keep going, that's where the problems develop and that's when you're going to need a good criminal defense attorney to explain what happened to the prosecutors and work on trying to get a result that you can live with that takes into account you, your family, your reputation, your record, your freedom, your driving ability – there's all sort of different things that are on the line when it comes to a hit and run that results in a death.
Defenses To A Hit And Run Resulting In A Death
One defense is that you did not know that you hit another vehicle or another person, and that's why you left the scene of the accident. One big thing I've seen a lot if somehow somebody allegedly causes an accident but is not actually involved with any impact.
So, let's say they cut somebody off or they do something that causes another person to lose control of their car and crash. The prosecutors are charging those as hit and runs as well, but they're going to have to prove that the person, number one, caused the accident, versus the other person just getting involved because of their own negligence, and the second thing that they have to prove is that the person knew or reasonably should have known based on the circumstances that they caused an accident.
Therefore, they had a duty to stop and render aid, figure out what happened and give their information, etc. When it comes to these hit and run accidents, your duty is if you get involved in an accident and there's some sort of property damage, you have to give the other person your information. If you hurt somebody, then you should help them. You should call 9-1-1, get out of your vehicle. You have to give them your insurance information, your name, a contact number so that they are able to get their car fixed, and if you don't do that it's going to be a hit and run, and if a serious injury or a death results, it's going to be charged with a felony and you're going to be looking at prison time.
Reasonable Belief Defense in Hit and Run Cases
So, the best defense that I've seen is that you didn't know that there was an accident or that you hit somebody because of the circumstances and therefore, you're not responsible for a hit and run because you have to actually know or reasonably know. That's something you discuss with your attorney. You go over everything. I have people come into my office, sit down and we talk about it.
It's all protected by privacy and the attorney-client privilege. Once we discuss everything, then we start to formulate a game plan to defend this serious hit and run death-related incident. Another thing I'm going to need is the other pieces of the puzzle. I need to see the police report. I need to see what witnesses saw what. What the damage is. A lot of time, again, an accident reconstruction expert.
The police will get somebody out there. Sometimes their experts aren't that good but they'll at least make some guesses and some opinions as to what they think happened and then you have a foundation and a basis to hire your own experts so that person can use whatever the police did and they do their own independent investigation in order to find out exactly what happened and see if there are any defenses that may apply to this serious hit and run related death incident where you're being charged with serious crimes and you need to defend yourself.
Next Step in Your Hit and Run Defense
So, if you're charged with a hit and run where a death occurred, and there's a bunch of enhancements and high bail, or you have loved one that's been charged with a hit and run related offense where a death occurred, it's crucial that you get to an attorney who has been down this road before, done these cases before, is local to the jurisdiction where the case is pending and knows how the prosecutors handle these cases and knows the judge's tendencies and knows what it take to defend the case, knows the strategy that's best for your loved one or for you so that you don't end up with a long prison sentence and you can do some damage control and protect your rights and interests.
For more information on Hit & Run Related Deaths In Los Angeles, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0979 today.