Leaving the scene of a car crash in New Jersey can lead to severe criminal charges. If convicted, you may have to face severe penalties. After a car accident, people can feel scared, overwhelmed, and terrified, especially if they cause significant harm. For some, leaving the scene may seem like the only way to defend themselves. Others genuinely believe they had nothing to do with the crash and decide to flee. No matter how big or small your car accident has been, it is essential to remain calm and not abandon the crash site. Can you go to jail for a hit-and-run in New Jersey? Our Atlantic City hit and run defense attorney John J. Zarych explains.
Will I Go to Jail for a Hit and Run in New Jersey?
Car accidents happen every day in New Jersey. If you have ever been part of a crash or know a friend or loved one who has, you know how overwhelming it can be. Every party involved in a car accident must remain at the scene, ensure everyone is okay, and wait for the police to make their report. The last thing you want to do is to “flee” the crash scene and leave everyone else behind. People who abandon the scene of a car accident can be charged with “hit-and-run.”
According to N.J.S.A. § 39:4-129, you can be found guilty of a hit-and-run if, knowing you were involved in an accident that caused injuries, death, or property damage, you decide to leave the scene. The law expressly mandates that all drivers involved in an accident should “immediately” stop at the scene or close to the scene and remain there. If you were involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you must exchange your contact information with all the parties involved. This information includes your name, address, phone number, and insurance information.
If you abandon a car crash scene involving injury or death, you may be charged and convicted of a hit and run, which can lead to severe penalties. According to New Jersey law, if convicted, you can face up to $5,000 in fines, no more than 180 days in prison or jail, or both. You can also face up to $600 in criminal fines and up to 90 days in jail if you cause property damage. It is always in your best interest to hire a South Jersey hit and run defense attorney if you were charged with a hit and run.
Avoiding Accusations and Jail Time for Hit and Run in New Jersey
The first thing to do if you have been involved in a hit and run is to remain calm. It would be best to contact an experienced, skilled criminal defense lawyer at this point. Ideally, one of the things you’d want to do is make sure everyone else involved in your car accident is safe. Make sure to call 9-1-1.
Additionally, it is possible that your accident will be reported to the police. Typically, a police officer will conduct an investigation and write a report on their findings. As we mentioned, you should make sure to exchange your contact and insurance information with all those involved in your accident. All of the decisions you make from the moment of your crash can significantly impact your case. It is absolutely imperative to remain calm and within the crash scene site. However, the fact that you did not stop after an accident doesn’t automatically make you guilty of a hit and run in New Jersey. For instance, you may have moved your vehicle away from the exact crash site to a safer location in order to avoid any additional accidents. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help you prove you had no intentions of abandoning the crash scene.
Potential Defenses to Hit and Run Charges in New Jersey
Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, you must “stop” at the accident site regardless of its magnitude. If you don’t stop at the crash scene as the statute points out, will you be charged with a hit-and-run? The answer to this question is that it depends. For instance, the law is clear when it says you must “know” you were involved in a car accident and fled the scene. You can’t be charged with a hit-and-run if you thought you knew, or you thought you might have been involved in a crash. However, if there is death involved in your accident, or there is property damage amounting to $250, the law presumes you knew about the crash. In this case, it is essential to remain on the crash site and call our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys.
It is essential to understand this fact as it may very well be the difference between facing criminal penalties or your freedom. Under our criminal justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty. This means the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of a hit-and-run. The prosecution must also establish your mental state at the moment of your crash. In other words, they must prove to the court that you acted knowingly, which is a heavy burden of proof to meet.
No matter what your case may be, it is essential to retain competent, quality legal representation. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you with these legal matters.
New Jersey Hit and Run Defense Attorneys Providing Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with a hit and run in New Jersey, there is no time to waste. Facing New Jersey’s criminal justice system can be overwhelming, especially if you have never been involved in a crash before. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys from the Law Offices of John. J. Zarych can help you during this trying time. Thanks to decades of experience handling criminal law, we can provide you with the quality legal representation you deserve. To learn more about all of our services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.