When you leave the scene of an accident in St. Petersburg in which you damaged property or hit or killed someone, it is quite likely the state will charge you with a hit and run, a serious felony offense. This is true even if you commit a hit and run without knowing.

While that lack of knowledge will not stop the state of Florida from filing charges against you, you can use it a defense in your case.

If you or a loved one have been questioned about or were recently charged with a hit and run in St. Petersburg, call Goldman Wetzel to speak to one of our defense attorneys that handle challenging cases of this nature: 727-828-3900.

Can the state convict me of leaving the scene of an accident if I was not aware I hit someone?

Florida Statute § 316.027 covers hit and run violations. The law provides:

The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in injury to a person… shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash… and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has [fulfilled the duty to give information and render aid]. A person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony…

The key word is “willfully.” Florida case law provides that in order to willfully violate the hit and run statute, you must have “actual knowledge” of being involved in a crash. To convict you, the prosecutor must prove that you knew or should have known that you hit someone.

Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Florida?

Yes. However, the degree is contingent upon the damage done:

  • Property damage: A hit and run involving property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Injury: If someone sustained a minor to moderate injury, the offense is a third-degree felony.
  • Serious injury: If the victim’s injuries are “serious bodily injuries,” the offense is a second-degree felony.
  • Death: If someone dies in the accident, the offense is a first-degree felony.

All charges for hit and run in Florida include fines and jail time. Click here for more information about the penalties you might face.

Is lack of knowledge a viable defense in hit and run cases?

Yes. There are various factors that could have caused you to not be aware that you struck someone or something. For example, if you were driving a large pickup truck and listening to music in your car, you might not see or feel something that you hit.

Other factors like traveling at night, through crowded streets, on bumpy roads, and in rainstorms could also cause a driver to remain unaware he was in an accident.

If you are facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident in St. Petersburg, have one of our lawyers start working on your defense strategy straightaway. Contact Goldman Wetzel today and request to speak to one of our team members about your case.

Schedule your free consultation today: 727-828-3900.