You know the drill if you are a driver: when you hit someone else – no matter how hard – you stop. You stop every single time and you follow the law to get their information and give them yours. You discuss the accident. You call the police and you get a report for your insurance company. Everyone who has learned to drive has this drummed into them and they have to be sure of this before getting behind the wheel of the car. Hitting someone else on the road and having an accident is going to be a rubbish time – especially if your insurance goes up. The thing is, it’s better to have a slightly more expensive time of things than be arrested for a hit and run. The phrase “hit and run” doesn’t just refer to someone killed in an accident when the other driver goes away without stopping and if you’re in an accident, you need to follow the law.
If you do follow the law and later you are arrested because the other person says that you left the scene of the crime, you can use the CCTV in the local area to prove it. You can also speak to a lawyer about how to quash a warrant for your arrest so that it doesn’t affect you later. However, if you DO leave the scene of an accident, that’s a big problem and you need to know what happens if you do leave and not speak to the police. Let’s talk it through.
If you are in a car accident, you are supposed to stop and help the people in the scene who may be injured. You should exchange information and go to the local police station if no one is around. You should do all of these things if the accident isn’t your fault, too. It’s an offence to drive off without doing these things, and if you do leave, you can be charged for any of the following things by the police:
- Fail to stop after an accident occurs
- Fail to assist
- Fail to exchange information
- Fail to report to the police station
- If someone was seriously hurt
- If someone dies as a result of the accident you left
- If the accident was your fault
You can be jailed for manslaughter if you leave the scene of an accident and someone died as a result of it. You could be fined and you will need a great lawyer on your side because this is more than just squashing down a warrant: this is your freedom on the line.
You will have to go in front of a court to face the charges in front of you and whether you are deemed guilty really depends on the circumstances of the accident in question. The prosecution has to prove to the court a list of things to be able to convict you for a crime. This includes:
- They have to prove that you were the person driving the car
- There was an accident in the first place
- There was damage or an injury
- You didn’t stop to exchange information
If the court can prove these things, you’re likely to be convicted and even imprisoned for breaking the law. There are three options here: you can plead guilty, you can plead not guilty, you can admit to the charges and ask for a diversion, which will mean that your case is handled differently. This is normal for the less serious cases out there. You have to agree to certain conditions and if you do, you don’t end up with a criminal record. You have to admit responsibility for the offence for this, and you have to tell the court that you know you broke the law. They can refuse the diversion, and if this is the case, you can ask for the case to be adjourned. If there was very little damage, they’re more likely to grant the diversion you’ve asked for.
You can defend yourself if you are in front of the court, but there is a risk of the penalties if you do go for the defense. The court can choose to give you a range of penalties if you are convicted of leaving the scene after an accident. Some of those penalties include:
- A fine. These can be cash fines, but you may also find that you get five or ten penalty units depending on whether this is your first offence or not.
- A suspended license. There is a chance that the court will give you a suspended license for up to six months, meaning that you cannot drive to work, to pick up the kids – there’s no reason that can be allowed for you to drive.
- Jail. You could be put in jail depending on the severity of the consequence of your leaving the scene of the crime. If you are being jailed just for leaving, that could be for up to a month.