How to Defend Against a Hit-and-Run Charge in San Diego County

Free & Confidential Consultations

A San Diego County Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Fight to Help You Get Out of a Hit-and-Run Charge

Police investigate hit-and-run crashes extensively, especially when someone dies or sustains a significant injury. Detectives rely upon sophisticated evidence to track and locate the suspect’s vehicle. Despite police reliance on GPS information and surveillance video, the police sometimes misidentify the guilty person.

Hit-and-run charges are serious, but they are not indefensible. An aggressive hit-and-run lawyer from San Diego County can potentially help you get out of a hit-and-run.

Can You Go to Jail for Hit-and-Run Charges in San Diego County?

If you face hit-and-run charges, you might ask, “Can I go to jail for a hit and run?” The short answer is yes. However, the severity of the penalty depends on whether the offense was a misdemeanor or a felony. That is why it is essential to have a seasoned hit-and-run defense attorney who will explore every option to help you avoid going to jail.

Under California’s Vehicle Code, the potential sentence for a hit-and-run conviction depends on the facts of the case. Every driver, by law, must stop immediately after a collision.

Their duties vary depending on whether the accident involved property damage only, personal injury, or death. The driver must identify themselves to the other person, operator, occupants, car owner, and police by:

  • Providing their name, current address, car registration number, and driver license;
  • Providing the name and address of any passengers;
  • Rendering aid to the injured, including calling for help from first responders; and
  • Reporting the accident to the police within 24 hours if the police did not arrive at the scene to investigate the crash.

The driver of a car involved in a crash where someone dies must call the police to report the crash. If the crash resulted only in property damage, the people involved must try to locate the owner of the damaged property. If the owner remains unidentified, then they must leave a note conspicuously for the other driver to find.  

Hit-and-Run Penalties

A hit-and-run accident involving property damage is a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor hit and run is a six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. 

The potential penalties increase significantly if a person suffered an injury or died due to a hit-and-run crash. A person convicted of leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury faces a maximum period of incarceration in either the state prison for three years or jail for up to one year. Also, the court could levy a fine of up to $10,000.

A hit-and-run accident that leads to death or permanent or serious injury may be punished by a state prison term from sixteen months to three years if charged as a felony. The judge could sentence the offender to 90 days in jail, up to a maximum of one year if charged as a misdemeanor. 

The possible state prison sentences increase dramatically if the person charged committed vehicle manslaughter and also fled from the scene of a crash.

A judge must impose consecutive penalties if a person died because the driver operated the vehicle with gross negligence, recklessly, or while intoxicated and left the scene of the crash.

Defenses That Could Help You Get out of a Hit-and-Run Charge

The prosecution always bears the burden of proof in a criminal case, including proving the identity of the driver who fled from the accident scene. The state has no case if they cannot prove you were behind the wheel.

Exploring constitutional violations is an important part of an aggressive hit-and-run defense. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches or violated your Sixth Amendment right to remain silent, then you could ask a judge to throw that evidence out of court.

California law gives a judge the discretion to impose a more lenient penalty in the interest of justice at times. A strong advocate can argue for a sentence reduction if the client has strong mitigation points to argue. 

Contact a Reputable San Diego Hit-and-Run Defense Lawyer 

The San Diego County hit-and-run defense lawyers from the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, enjoy a well-earned reputation for their high level of professionalism and skill.

Contact us today or call us at 619-234-2300. We will begin immediately planning your defense and show you how to get out of a hit-and-run charge.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars