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.
How to Convict Someone of Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
In order to be found guilty of leaving the scene of property damage, the Commonwealth must prove, 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.
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, that they collided with or otherwise injured another person, and that 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 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 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. The law puts an affirmative and active duty on the driver of a motor vehicle in an accident to immediately stop at the scene and provide their specific information in order to identify him or her at a later time.
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 us 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.
Call us at (617)523-3500and we can help.
What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene in Massachusetts?
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, if the judge imposes a jail sentence. However, this minimum sentence is only mandated if a judge imposes a period of incarceration. Often, provided there is no prior criminal record, we are able to resolve this charge without a period of incarceration. These are osten cases that can be fought at trial. However, a charge of leaving the scene of property damage can oftentimes also be resolved with a continuation without a finding which will turn to a dismissal after having successfully completed the imposed probationary period.
The penalty for leaving the scene after causing personal injury (not resulting in death) is imprisonment in the house of correction 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. An 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.
The penalty for leaving the scene after causing personal injury resulting in death is imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two- and one-half years nor more than ten years or by imprisonment in the house of correction for not less than one year nor more than two and one half years. A sentence imposed after a conviction for this charge requires that the individual serve a minimum mandatory sentence of not 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.
What Constitutes a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge for Leaving
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 correction.
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 correction or the state prison for at least one year. Your sentence could range all the way up to 10 years in state prison, but everyone must serve at least one year committed.
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 lack of proof that the accident occurred on a public way or a road to which the public has the right of access. Another defense is lack of knowledge. The law makes it a crime to leave the scene of an incident after having knowingly gotten in an accident. There is a knowledge element which is required before an individual can be convicted. Experienced lawyers can sometimes challenge the surrounding circumstances in the case to show the lack of knowledge on the suspect’s part.
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 suffer a significant license loss which would prevent you from operating a motor vehicle.
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. Criminal attorneys experienced in handling cases of Leaving the Scene of an accident can make strategic decisions that can result in a successful outcome for your case. Oftentimes, witnesses cannot identify the operator of the motor vehicle in a case like this. When this is the case, motions to suppress or dismiss can be filed that could result in the case being thrown out altogether.
online or by dialing (617)523-3500 today for a free consultation
in your leaving the scene of an accident case. Serving the Counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, Bristol, Essex & Middlesex.
Our firm consists of local attorneys who have worked in the area for years. Each attorney is familiar with the courts and has a great reputation within the legal field.
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Our attorneys have successfully helped thousands of clients reach a positive outcome in their cases. We have acheived this by using our experience and expertise to our advantage.
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Our team consists of a former Supervisor of District Courts, a former Assistant Attorney General, and a former Homicide Prosecutor. Together they have a combined experience of 50 years.
Domestic Assault and Battery Not Guilty
Felony Larceny Case Dismissed
Forgery, Uttering, Credit Card Fraud, Identity Fraud, Larceny Case Dismissed
Identity Fraud, Criminal Harassment, Witness Intimidation Case Dismissed
Motor Vehicle Homicide Not Guilty
Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (OUI, DUI) Not Guilty
Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Ammunition Motion to Suppress allowed. Evidence Suppressed
Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges Reduced from Felony to Misdemeanor
Threats Case Dismissed
Violation of a Restraining Order Case Dismissed
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