Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
The crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage only is controlled by § 316.06(1), Florida Statutes. There is no difference between leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage and “hit and run” in Florida. The phrase “hit and run” is just an informal name for the crime in Florida, which is actually codified as leaving the scene of an accident.
To convict you the government must prove 4 (four) facts or “elements”. The government must prove:
- You were the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash
- The crash resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property
- Either the property way driven or attended by another person or it wasn’t; and
- You failed to stop at the scene of the crash or as close to the crash as possible and remain there until you had given “identifying information”.
What is “identifying information” under Florida law?
Florida law defines “identifying information” as “the name, address, vehicle registration number, and if available and requested, the exhibition of the defendant’s license or permit to drive.” § 316.06(2), Florida Statutes.
Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
The State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving the car at the time of the crash. It is not enough that you owned the car involved in the crash. The state must have enough evidence to prove that you were driving the car.
There must be some damage. Without evidence of damage the government may not convict you.
You Stopped and Provided Identifying Information
If you did stop and exchange the “identifying information” with the other driver or owner of the property then you may have a defense to the charge.
In Florida the crime of leaving the scene of an accident is unique in that Florida law prevents the judge from requiring you to pay the victim for the damage you may have caused during the crash. Often times, the victim of the crime is stuck with paying for the damage themselves or paying their insurance deductible.
Sometimes the prosecution is willing to negotiate a lesser sentence, reduce the criminal charges, or dismiss the charges entirely, if you agree to pay for the victim’s out of pocket expenses for the damages you may or may not have caused. This is always an avenue worth exploring if you have the ability to pay these expenses. Note, this is not a legal defense but is a tactic that you use in negotiating a favorable resolution of your case.
Potential Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
The crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving damage is classified as a second degree misdemeanor, which may be punished by a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
Criminal Defense Attorney
At The Law Offices of Scott J. Kalish we have the experience defend you in your leaving the scene of an accident case. We represent people throughout South Florida, specifically Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties.
With our main office conveniently located in Coral Springs, and other office locations throughout South Florida we are never far. If you have a question about your drug offense, or any other matter, reach out to us today for help.