If you have been in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault, it is important to always stay at the scene until the authorities arrive to investigate. If you do leave the scene of an accident, you may face a variety of criminal charges. This is especially true if you were at fault in the accident and someone was injured. If it is determined that you fled the scene, you may be faced with felony charges. This means you could potentially receive a prison sentence.
What Happens After You Leave the Scene?
If you do leave the scene of an accident, a few things will happen in your absence. First, law enforcement officials arriving on the scene will conduct an investigation. This investigation may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing any available surveillance footage in the area, conducting tests on the damaged vehicle’s paint, determining if alcohol was a factor, and more. From there, if the authorities have enough evidence to know who you are, they will track you down at your home or place of employment. If they are unable to find you, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, meaning you will be pursued by every police agency in the country.
From Bad to Worse
Leaving the scene of an accident is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost, doing so makes you appear guilty, even if you are not. In many cases, drivers who get into accidents will be unsure as to what happened or who was at fault. Or, perhaps a driver who has had a few drinks before being involved in the incident believes that fleeing the scene is a good idea. Whatever the reason, people become nervous and believe that they will be charged with a crime, so they leave before that can happen. Even if you are unsure as to who was at fault, you should always wait for the authorities to arrive and conduct their investigation. If you are sure that the accident was your fault, staying on the scene to discuss the circumstances of the accident may help you avoid serious criminal charges in the long run.
What to Do if You Have Fled the Scene
If you have fled the scene of an accident, there is a good chance that the authorities are currently searching for you. It is usually only a matter of time before they do find you, and then you may be facing a variety of criminal charges, including felony charges. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to partner with a criminal defense attorney, especially if you have consumed alcohol before you were involved in the accident. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to discreetly meet with you to discuss the specifics of your case and offer you legal options for your defense. Additionally, an attorney will also represent your best interests in court, making sure that your side of the story is heard. It should be noted that your attorney will more than likely advise you to turn yourself in to authorities once a defense strategy has been mapped out, in order to avoid further problems. This may mean being arrested and then being let out on bail.
Best Course of Action
Remember, a car accident does not need to turn into a felony. By fleeing the scene, you make yourself look guilty of a crime, even if you are not. Why go through the trouble of running from the police when you can simply explain what happened? Instead of running, stay on the scene and help any injured individuals if you can. Once you have spoken with the police, you can then contact a criminal defense attorney if you are being charged with a crime. Staying at the scene gives you options, but running only makes things more difficult. Even if you are unsure, do the right thing.