Hit and Run: Top 3 Common Defenses

by cbennett on October 2, 2012

  • Sharebar

Hit and run offenses are one of the few crimes where witnesses jump at the chance to make a statement and testify in court. Most people are simply astounded when they see a driver cause an accident and then flee the scene, so many of them are more than willing to help convict the offender. Hit and run penalties always vary by state, but the defenses against such a charge are strikingly similar from place to place. Knowing the most common defenses of hit and run charges are the best way a person can avoid serious penalties.

Mistake of Fact

According to www.manhattanaccidentattorneys.net, one common defense of many criminal charges is a mistake of fact. This means that the defendant was unaware that they actually committed a crime. In the case of a hit and run, this would mean that the driver didn’t realize that they were fleeing an accident scene. This could occur if the driver was unaware that they struck anything or thought that they struck an animal or their car was hit by a thrown object.

This can also occur if the driver believed there was no injury or accident and that the victim was ‘waving them by’. Everyone knows of cases where someone has been lightly rear ended or ‘tapped’ and sustained no injury or damage. These incidents usually go unreported and don’t interrupt a person’s day much. Unfortunately, a driver charged with hit and run could’ve been mistaken with their assessment of the situation.

Fear of Safety

People who are in fear for their lives are given leeway in many criminal cases. Killing someone, for instance, is usually not considered ‘murder’ if a person was in legitimate fear of their life. This is also a plausible defense in the case of a hit and run. If a person is on a rough side of town, for example, and they believe that they’re being set up to be robbed, they have a legitimate excuse for leaving. Also, if the driver believes they are at risk of harm from the other driver, they will likely have a legitimate defense. The main issue here is whether or not a ‘reasonable person’ would’ve had the same fear if put into a similar situation.

”I wasn’t Driving” Defense

The criminal justice system must prove that a specific person committed a crime to punish them for it. Hit and run offenders are often arrested long after the actual crime occurs, so there are a number of things that could’ve happened in this time. Police often only have a license plate and vehicle description to work from, and that doesn’t mean that they have an open and shut case.

Just about everyone has allowed another person to borrow their vehicle from time to time. Many people are also acquainted with the practice of being a passenger in their own vehicle while a friend or family member actually drives. Either of these cases can lead the owner of a car to be charged with a hit and run if the police believe the owner must’ve been the driver.

This is a very important defense, and it should be used regardless of the consequences that the actual driver will face. They put themselves in the situation and allowed their friend to take the fall, so that friend shouldn’t be too worried about their legal situation.

Hit and run offenses are in no way minor traffic infractions. A conviction can lead to anything from probation to several years in prison depending on the specific circumstances. Anyone charged with a hit and run should definitely seek legal advice due to the serious consequences that they may be facing. A lawyer will be able to find the best possible defense to avoid serious jail time, and he’ll be able to present it in such a way that it is plausible to a judge and jurors.

Chris Bennett is a legal researcher and freelance writer for the attorneys at www.manhattanaccidentattorneys.net. A hit and run charge is a serious issue, which can potentially be a financial nightmare. Manhattan Accident Attorneys can assist you in finding the right attorney to  provide a comprehensive defense for hit and run accidents.





Latest posts by cbennett (see all)

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: