Car accidents happen every day in Utah and across the United States. Part of your responsibility after a crash requires exchanging information with all involved parties and solve the situation. Leaving the scene of a car accident is a serious criminal offense punishable with potential jail time and steep criminal fines. If you or a loved one was charged with hit and run, you need to contact a Salt Lake City hit and run defense attorney immediately. Darwin Overson, from Overson Law, PLLC, invites you to keep reading as we discuss hit and run and the potential criminal consequences for its conviction.
Will I Go to Jail for a Hit and Run in Utah?
Every year, thousands of car accidents involve reckless driving in Utah. The parties involved in a crash have a legal duty – or obligation – to remain at the scene. Fleeing after a car crash is an illegal act discussed under Utah Code Title 41, part 4. Under this statute, you can be charged with “hit and run” in three main instances. You can face criminal charges for hit and run if you crash and leave while there is property damage, serious bodily injury, or death involved in the accident.
You can be charged with hit and run with property damage if the total property loss equals or surpasses $1,500. Property damage in a hit-and-run case refers to the other party’s car – or other cars in a multiple car crash – but it also includes any other stationary objects that are part of your accident such as a fence, sidewalk, or a house.
If the other party in your car accident suffers injuries or severe bodily injuries, you cannot flee the scene. It is essential to immediately find medical assistance after your collision and make sure all parties involved are safe. If you flee the scene, and there is serious bodily injury involved, you can face criminal charges, which can lead to a potential conviction and severe penalties.
Similarly, you should not attempt to abandon your crash scene if another driver, passenger, or bystander dies. The criminal penalties for leaving a crash scene can be harsh. If you were involved in a car accident in Utah, don’t abandon the scene and contact a Utah criminal defense attorney.
What Are the Penalties for a Hit and Run Conviction in Utah?
The penalties for a hit-and-run conviction in Utah can change depending on your case’s circumstances. Knowing how crimes are classified in Utah is key to understanding what you may be exposed to if convicted for a hit and run.
Utah categorizes crimes into infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. A hit and run can either be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your particular situation. Misdemeanors are lesser criminal offenses compared to felonies. Misdemeanors are categorized in Class A, B, and C. Each offense will be classified according to the level of severity. For instance, the more serious types of misdemeanors will be classified as A, while the least serious misdemeanor offenses will get a C classification.
If you flee a car crash scene involving property loss or damage, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to 90 days in jail and $750 in fines. However, you may face harsher criminal charges if you flee, and the other party suffered bodily injuries. In such a circumstance, you may face Class A misdemeanor charges, which can lead to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
If the injured party sustained “serious bodily injury,” your hit and run misdemeanor charges can escalate to a third-degree felony charge. You should be aware of the essential distinction between bodily injury and serious bodily injury. Bodily injury in a car accident refers to physical injuries that may not have a significant impact on the victim’s life and from which they can recover. Conversely, a serious bodily injury refers to an injury that can lead to permanent scarring or disfigurement, loss of physical function, or is likely to cause the victim’s death. If convicted of a third-degree felony in Utah – one of the most serious criminal charges you can be charged with – you may face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Is There an Alternative to a Jail or Prison Conviction for a Hit and Run in Utah?
There may be a chance to avoid jail by pleading what is known as a “plea by abeyance.” A plea by abeyance is a court order – with the prosecution’s approval – where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest in exchange for a “suspended sentence.” This means you will not go to jail right away. However, you must meet specific requirements set forth by the court. For instance, you cannot commit any criminal offense for twelve months, you must pay any fines imposed on you, and you will need to meet any other court-ordered conditions. After you have met all the requirements set forth by the court, your charges may be dismissed. Keep in mind a plea by abeyance is not available in every criminal case, and can only be attained with the prosecutor’s approval.
The criminal penalties for a hit and run in Utah can be severe. A criminal conviction for this specific offense can have devastating repercussions in the future. All financial, education, and academic institutions perform background checks before qualifying an individual. Your criminal conviction will appear in your record, making it extremely challenging to find a new job, apply for college, or get a loan.
The importance of remaining on the scene of the crash, regardless of who may be at fault, cannot be stressed enough. If you were stopped by the police and they arrested you for an alleged hit and run, you need to retain the services of a skilled Salt Lake City DUI lawyer or hit and run lawyer. It is essential to remain silent and not provide any statements to the police that may be interpreted as an admission of guilt. As you may know, you have the right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination. Make sure to contact your criminal defense attorney before providing any statements.
Hit and Run Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations in Utah
Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys from Overson Law, PLLC, can help you if you were charged with hit and run in Utah. Thanks to decades of experience handling criminal cases in Utah, we know how frustrating, overwhelming, and challenging facing criminal charges can be. We also know the significant impact a criminal conviction can have on your life. Darwin Overson can fight aggressively and strategically to uphold and protect your rights as a defendant. To learn more about all of our services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (801) 758-2287.