Texas law requires that drivers immediately stop after being involved in an accident and exchange their contact information, vehicle information, and insurance information with the other people involved in the crash or the owner of the property that you damaged. If you cannot locate the owner, you should leave your information in a conspicuous place for them to find.
Failing to stop at the scene of a crash and provide your required information constitutes the criminal offense of hit and run. If an accident involves serious property damage, bodily injury, or death, a conviction for hit and run can result in jail or prison time, in addition to the possibility of significant fines and suspension of your driver’s license.
A hit-and-run conviction can have consequences for your freedom and future. The Law Offices of RJ Harber can help you evaluate your legal rights and options and put together a case strategy to fight for the best possible outcome to your charges. Let a former criminal prosecutor use his extensive knowledge and experience with the Texas criminal justice system to fight for you.
If you have questions about a specific case, contact us right away by phone or reach out to us online. We’ve provided the following frequently asked questions to help answer some common questions we receive below:
Should I Get a Lawyer If I’m Involved in a Hit and Run?
Yes. If you failed to stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident that you were involved in, you need to speak to a hit and run defense attorney as soon as possible, even before you may be arrested by police.
Seeking legal counsel for potential hit and run charges as soon as possible can have several benefits, including giving your attorney time to investigate your case and to prepare a defense strategy. Your attorney can also help arrange for your surrender to law enforcement so that you can avoid the embarrassment of being arrested without warning at your home or place of work.
Can You Go to Jail for a Hit and Run in Texas?
Potentially. A hit and run accident only involving property damage is charged as a misdemeanor, including a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is valued at less than $200 or a Class B misdemeanor if the accident results in $200 or more of property damage. While a Class C misdemeanor conviction only carries a potential fine of up to $500, a Class B misdemeanor conviction can result in a sentence of up to 180 days in jail, in addition to a potential fine of up to $2,000.
If a hit and run accident results in injury, the offense can be charged as a felony. A hit and run accident involving injury could carry a penalty of a year in county jail or up to five years in prison, along with a potential fine of up to $10,000. When a hit-and-run accident involves serious bodily injury or death, it will result in a third-degree felony charge.
A conviction for third-degree hit and run will result in a sentence that may include two to 10 years in prison along with a potential fine of up to $10,000.
What Do Police Do When There Is a Hit and Run?
If someone whose vehicle, property, or person was hit by another motorist reports the accident to police, law enforcement will attempt to identify the driver that fled the scene.
Police will try to locate the offending vehicle by running the license plate (if someone was able to note down the registration number) or by reviewing eyewitness testimony or surveillance camera or dash cam footage. Officers may patrol the area looking for vehicles with a matching description that have accident damage.
Once police locate the vehicle they believe was involved in the hit and run accident, they will usually question the owner or owners of the vehicle, or police may even arrest the vehicle owner unless they have information to believe that the owner was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. If the vehicle’s owner identifies someone else as driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, police may arrest that individual for the hit and run.
What Happens if I Confess to a Hit and Run?
Some people may think that if they later report an accident where they failed to stop at the scene, then they can avoid any potential criminal consequences. However, once you’ve failed to stop at or immediately return to the scene of an accident that you were involved in, you have already committed the act of hit and run. If you later try to report that accident to police, anything you say could later be used in a criminal prosecution against you.
Before you choose to report an accident that you failed to stop for or confess to a hit and run, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your legal rights and options. Talking to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible will also give your attorney as much time as possible to begin investigating your case and preparing a legal defense strategy. Your lawyer’s goal will be to mitigate or avoid some of the most severe consequences a criminal conviction for hit and run could carry.