Westwood Leaving the Scene of an Accident Lawyer

Representing Clients in Norfolk County

In Massachusetts, there are two different types of leaving the scene offenses: leaving the scene after causing property damage and leaving the scene after causing personal injury (either causing death or not causing death).

It is unlawful for an individual to:

  • Knowingly collide with or otherwise cause damage to another motor vehicle without stopping.
  • Knowingly collide with or otherwise cause damage to property or a person without stopping.
  • Leave the scene of an accident without making known his or her name.
  • Leave the scene of an accident without making known his or her residence.
  • Leave the scene of an accident without making known the register number of his or her motor vehicle involved in the incident.

Give our Westwood lawyers a call at (617) 397-5755 for help with a hit and run in Massachusetts. Your initial consultation is free!

What Types of Leaving the Scene Charges Exist in Massachusetts?

There are 3 different types of leaving the scene charges:

  • Leaving the scene of property damage.
  • Leaving the scene of personal injury (not causing death).
  • Leaving the scene of personal injury (causing death).

What Constitutes a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge for Leaving

the Scene of an Accident?

The individual facts and circumstances of your case determine what charges with be brought against you.

The charges of leaving the scene of property damage and leaving the scene of personal injury not resulting in death are both misdemeanors. If charged with either offense, the case is most likely prosecuted in the district court and any incarcerated sentence imposed could only be served at a house of corrections.

Leaving the scene of personal injury causing death is a felony with a minimum mandatory sentence. Regardless of whether your case is prosecuted in the district courts or the superior court, if convicted of this offense, you must serve at least a minimum sentence in the house of corrections or the state prison. Your sentence could range all the way up to 10 years in state prison, but everyone must serve at least one year committed.

All of the above charges fall under Massachusetts hit-and-run law. To help you better understand your rights, let's take a look at these statutes.

What Is the Purpose of the Leaving the Scene Statutes?

The purpose of the leaving the scene statute is to enable those who have been injured by a motor vehicle to immediately obtain accurate information about the person and motor vehicle involved in the incident.

State law puts an affirmative and active duty on the driver of a motor vehicle in an accident. They must stop at the scene immediately and provide their specific information so that they can be identified at a later time.

    Call (617) 397-5755 for assistance with a leaving the scene of an accident case in Massachusetts. Our Westwood lawyers are here to take your call 24/7!

    How to Convict Someone of Leaving the Scene of an Accident

    For Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident Case

    In order for you to be found guilty of leaving the scene of property damage, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

    • That a person operated a motor vehicle;
    • That the vehicle was operated on a public way or a place in which members of the public have access;
    • That while operating the vehicle they caused damage to another vehicle or property either by colliding with it or damage in some other way
    • That they knew they had collided or caused damage to another’s property; and
    • That after causing such damage, the operator did not stop and make known their name, home address and the registration number of the vehicle involved.

    For Hit-and-Run Accidents Involving Injury

    To be found guilty of leaving the scene of personal injury, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

    • A person operated a motor vehicle on a public way;
    • They collided with or otherwise injured another person; and
    • After the collision or injury, the individual did not stop and make known their name, home address and the registration number of the motor vehicle involved.

    What Happens if I am Arrested for Leaving the Scene?

    Typically, if an individual leaves the scene of an accident that caused personal injury or property injury, the individual is not present when the police arrive at the scene. However, the police have different methods of locating a person who leaves the scene after causing property damage and/or personal injury.

    Police may be able to locate, identify and ultimately charge an individual based on eyewitness observations made before, after and/or during the collision; by forensic or physical evidence left at the scene; after a thorough search of the area, etc. The mere fact that an individual can leave the scene of an incident prior to the police arrival does not mean the individual will ultimately not be charged.

    If you are contacted by the police about a motor vehicle accident and/or any other matter, do not speak to the police without calling an attorney first. Anything you say to the police on the phone, through email, or in person can and will be used against you in a court of law.

    What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene in Massachusetts?

    Property Damage Hit and Runs

    The penalty for leaving the scene after causing property damage is up to 2 years in the House of Corrections. There is a minimum sentence of two weeks incarceration only if the judge imposes a jail sentence.

    Often, provided there is no prior criminal record, we are able to resolve this charge without a period of incarceration. These are typically cases that can be fought at trial.

    Please note: A charge of leaving the scene of property damage may also be resolved with a continuation without a finding, which will turn to a dismissal after having successfully completed the imposed probationary period.

    Hit and Runs that Cause Bodily Injury

    The penalty for leaving the scene after causing personal injury (not resulting in death) is imprisonment in the house of corrections for not less than six months and not more than 2 years.

    However, the minimum jail sentence of a minimum 6-month period is only if a judge chooses to impose a period of incarceration. A person could be sentenced to a probationary period.

    As a personal injury to an individual was sustained, the law does not allow this charge to be resolved by a continuation without a finding.

    Fatal Hit-and-Run Accidents

    The penalty for leaving the scene after causing personal injury resulting in death is imprisonment in:

    • The state prison for anywhere between two and a half and 10 years; or
    • The house of corrections for anywhere between one year and two and a half years.

    A sentence imposed after a conviction for this charge requires that the individual serve a minimum mandatory sentence of no less than one year. Meaning, if convicted of leaving the scene without identifying yourself after causing death, an individual must serve a minimum mandatory sentence of one year in custody.

    A continuation without a finding disposition is not available for leaving the scene of personal injury offenses, and the individual cannot be released from custody without having served at least one year in custody.

    If I am Charged, How Can it Affect My Life?

    Not only are there legal consequences involved in being criminally charged, including the possibility of going to jail, but there are also license consequences with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

    Depending on the charge and the ultimate court disposition, an individual charged with leaving the scene could lose their license. This would prevent you from operating a motor vehicle.

    A criminal record also comes with a stigma that may cause you to lose out on employment and housing opportunities. It can also impact your personal and family life.

    Call us at (617) 397-5755 to get in touch with a lawyer near you today!

    What Defenses are There to Leaving the Scene Offenses?

    Each case gives rise to different defenses.

    One such defense is operation, meaning, can the DA’s office prove that you were actually the one driving the car? The burden is on the Commonwealth to prove that the individual charged was the person operating or driving the motor vehicle during the crash.

    Another defense is the lack of proof that the accident occurred on a public way or a road to which the public has the right of access.

    Lack of knowledge is yet another. The law makes it a crime to leave the scene after having knowingly gotten in an accident. There is a knowledge element that is required before an individual can be convicted. Experienced lawyers can sometimes challenge the surrounding circumstances in the case to show a lack of knowledge on the suspect’s part.

    Why You Should Hire a Defense Attorney

    Leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage or personal injury can result in serious criminal charges.At Eisenstadt & Krippendorf Group, LLP, our criminal attorneys have experience defending our clients against these hit-and-run charges. We will work hard to make strategic decisions to obtain a successful outcome for your case.

    It is common for witnesses to be unable to identify a hit-and-run driver. If this applies to your case, motions to suppress or dismiss can be filed that could result in the case being thrown out altogether.

    Put a proven Westwood defense attorney on your side—call (617) 397-5755 or book your free consultation online.

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