Damaging an Unattended Vehicle or Property (Florida Statue 316.063)
A driver who hits unattended property has the duty to make an effort to locate the owner of the damaged property. If the owner cannot be found, the driver should visibly leave a note indicating his or her name, address and registration information. Furthermore, the driver is also required by law to contact law enforcement and notify them of the accident. Failure to comply with this statute results in a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment and up to a $500 fine.
Accidents Involving Occupied Vehicles or Attended Property (Florida Statute 316.061)
A driver who crashes into an occupied vehicle or attended property that results only in property damage is required to remain at the scene of the accident until he or she completes his or her statutory duties. These duties include exchanging pertinent information such as name, address and registration, presenting a driver’s license, and notifying law enforcement of the accident. A driver who violates this statute has committed a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment and up to a $500 fine.
Accidents Causing Death or Personal Injury (Florida Statute 361.027)
A driver who is involved in an accident that causes any personal injury must remain at the scene of the accident until completing his statutory duties. These duties also include exchanging pertinent information, presenting a driver’s license, notifying law enforcement, and providing reasonable aid to the injured party. A willful violation of this statute results in a felony of the third degree. A third degree felony carries an imprisonment term of up to 5 years, and a possible fine of up to $5,000. If the accident results in a death of any person and the driver willfully fails to comply with this statute, the driver has committed a felony of the first degree. These are serious charges that require the assistance of a Lake County leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury attorney. A first degree felony carries a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Knowledge of Injury or Property Damage
Because of the specific "willful" language found in Florida Statute 361.027, the Assistant State Attorney must prove that you knew or should have known someone had been injured in the accident. We may be able to convince the Lake County prosecutor that due to the nature of the property damage, your limited interaction with the other driver and your prompt departure, you would not have known any injury had taken place. In this way, you could benefit from a reduction in the charge and far less exposure to punitive sanctions. It is not uncommon for our clients to be charged with the offense of leaving the scene of property damage in Lake County despite their involvement in a very minor fender-bender. Past clients have told us that they exited their car after a minor accident and quickly looked over both vehicles. With no apparent damage and finding the other driver to lack any injury, leaving the scene is understandable. This can be dangerous if the other driver notices the slightest dent, scratch, mark or abrasion. If this sounds like your case attorney Kevin J. Pitts can point out to the judge that your case lacks the necessary "criminal intent" to sustain the charge. Photographs of your vehicle at the point of impact showing no damage may be persuasive evidence for your case.