If you leave the scene of an accident, you could be charged with a hit and run offense in North Carolina. While this crime is often a misdemeanor, it can also be charged as a felony. You need to immediately contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney to mount an aggressive defense strategy if you are accused of a hit-and-run crime.
What Is Reckless Driving in North Carolina?
A person can be charged with a hit and run as a misdemeanor in several ways. Under N.C.G.S. 20.166, it is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor to:
- Fail to give information or assistance when someone suffers a personal injury or death in a crash
- Fail to stop when it is not apparent that an individual was hurt or killed or when only property damages occurred
- Fail to give information when an injury or death was not obvious or when only property damages occurred
It is a Class 2 misdemeanor to fail to report an accident under N.C.G.S. 20.166.
When Is a Hit and Run Charged as a Felony?
A hit and run would be charged as a felony in the following two situations under N.C.S. 20.166:
- It would be a Class F felony to fail to stop or stay at the accident scene when a victim suffered a severe bodily injury or was killed.
- It would be a Class H felony to fail to stop when a personal injury occurred in the collision.
A serious bodily injury creates a substantial risk of death, causes permanent disfigurement or pain, or results in an extended hospitalization.
Prosecutors must meet the high standard of proof known as reasonable doubt to convict a person of a felony hit and run. The elements of a Class H felony hit and run require that:
- A person knew that the accident caused a victim’s injury or death.
- They willfully refused to stop at the crash scene.
- They failed to remain at the scene until the police completed their investigation.
- They willfully allowed or facilitated the removal of a vehicle before the investigation by law enforcement officials was completed.
What Are the Penalties When a Hit and Run Is Charged as a Felony?
You face harsh punishments if convicted of a felony hit and run. North Carolina uses complicated sentencing guidelines that consider several factors when sentencing someone for this crime. You could be sentenced to the following:
- If convicted of a Class H felony, you could be sentenced to four to 25 months in jail, hefty fines, and loss of your driver’s license for up to two years.
- The punishment will be a prison sentence of 10 to 41 months, significant fines, and loss of your driver’s license for up to two years if the conviction is for a Class F felony.
In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record that limits your ability to obtain employment, an education, housing, and more.
Have you Received a Traffic Citation in Charlotte, NC?
If you received a traffic citation, you need to speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.