On Friday a fatal hit and run accident occurred in Tampa. All police reports refer to "accidents" as "crashes" to inflate the public and eventually the jury's attitude in these tragic cases. While there are cases where someone leaves on purpose, many times the driver is in shock and scared and leaves the scene, not because they are drunk and afraid of getting caught and arrested. However, Florida Statute 316.027 makes the penalties are very serious for this 1st-degree felony crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
If you or a person is involved in an accident or crash that results in injury or death to any person, including a passenger, the driver is required to:
- Stop immediately,
- Provide their name, address, registration information, and driver's license, and
- Render reasonable assistance to the injured or deceased person by transporting, or making arrangements for the transportation, of the person to a medical professional for treatment if it is apparent that treatment is needed or the person requests assistance.
If the person injured or deceased is not in a condition to receive your information or be transported, you are required to report the accident or crash to the nearest law enforcement agency as quickly as possible and provide your name, address, registration information, and driver's license.
There are various defenses to these crimes. First, the prosecutor has to prove who was driving the car. Often there are no witnesses to these accidents because they happen late at night or the driver never gets out of the vehicle and flees so no eyewitnesses get a good look at them. In the Tampa case, the car was spotted in a parking garage so if the woman arrested does not make any statements admitting her involvement in the accident, the prosecutor may have a difficult time proving that she was driving at the time of the accident.
Another defense is whether the driver knew or reasonably should have known someone was injured or killed. Many times we see cases in which the person thinks they hit a deer or other animal. There was a recent case in Buffalo in which the driver was found not guilty because the BMW is now so well-built that a driver does not feel the impacts of certain accidents.
Finally, if a driver is rendered physically incapacitated and unable to report the crash or accident, he or she is exempt from fulfilling the requirements of the leaving the scene of an accident statute.
This crime is one of the most serious under Florida law. It is a Level 7 offense on the Scoresheet and Florida Sentencing Guidelines. Because the crime of "leaving" the scene does not cause the death, a driver arrested for this crime will not receive the 120 Death points on the Scoresheet. That means they will only score 56 points for the Level 7 felony offense which will equate to a minimum sentence of approximately 21 months Florida State Prison as a "guideline sentence" for the judge.
The driver arrested in this case is also a nurse so she may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Nursing and Department of Health. She will need an experienced criminal lawyer to defend her in court.
If you have been arrested or the police want to talk to you about your possible involvement in a crime, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the laws and will fight to protect you!
Call Thomas C. Grajek 863-838-5549 cell