Darien Hit and Run Lawyer
Getting arrested for Evading Responsibility / Hit-and-Run, under Connecticut General Statutes (“CGS”) § 14-224, is a serious charge that can leave you with a felony or misdemeanor criminal record. As any of the best criminal lawyers can explain, if you are convicted of Evading Responsibility, there will also be consequences on your driver’s license and auto insurance rates. If you have been accused of fleeing the scene of an accident, contact a Darien hit and run lawyer.
What is a Hit and Run?
You can be arrested for Hit-and-Run under Connecticut General Statutes § 14-224 if you are involved in a car accident with another vehicle or property—even a minor fender bender—and you don’t stop and call 911, or leave your name, address, and registration with the owner of the other car or damaged property. Connecticut law requires that if you are involved in a car accident—even a one-car accident—you must immediately report the accident to Police Department.
Evading Responsibility arrests are strictly enforced because Police and prosecutors are extremely suspect of why you left the scene of the car accident. Were you drunk driving? Under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs? Driving without a license? Driving with a license suspended because of a DUI / DWI arrest?
Whatever the reason, once Police officers find you after the hit and run accident, you can be certain that they will grill you with questions, so make sure you’re prepared and have contacted any of the best Darien attorneys prior to speaking with the Police.
The Key Issue: Why Did You Leave the Scene?
While investigating Hit-and-Run cases, police officers really just want to know the answer to one question: Why did you leave the scene of a car accident? Police and prosecutors usually assume that if you left the scene, then you must have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were not authorized or licensed to be driving the car.
Regardless of your reason for leaving the scene of the accident, if you have been arrested, ticketed, or are being investigated in a hit and run case, then it’s critical to contact our Darien attorneys to discuss your case before your first court date in Norwalk Superior Court. An experienced lawyer could review your options with you so that you’re fully informed about your charges before you head to court.
Evading Responsibility investigations usually begin when a victim of a hit and run accident calls the police to report damage to their vehicle or personal property. In more serious cases, victims or eyewitnesses will call the police immediately after witnessing an accident that has someone physically injured. Usually, the police are able to track down the person responsible for the accident by checking surveillance cameras for license plate numbers, and then running them with the DMV. It usually takes them 20 minutes to identify the owner of the vehicle.
How a Darien Lawyer Could Help in a Hit and Run Case
The good news is that in Evading Responsibility investigations, there’s always a chance that a Darien lawyer can intervene with the police before they place you under arrest, even if you are guilty of leaving the scene of the accident. Your attorney can work with the Police Department and the victim of the car accident to resolve the case in a manner that avoids a public arrest and court appearance. Sometimes this might involve paying the victim upfront for the repair costs and rental car costs in exchange for the victim’s agreement not to press charges. This approach can be more challenging when the victim suffers sustains physical injuries; however, the strategy pays big dividends as it can prevent an arrest and the online/offline publicity that comes hand-in-hand with a misdemeanor or felony arrest for Evading Responsibility under CGS 14-224. It’s a delicate conversation with an alleged victim—that’s why it’s advisable to have any of the best Stamford or Darien criminal law firms handle these negotiations, as you don’t want to be accused of witness tampering.
Do I Need an Attorney to Fight an Evading Responsibility Arrest?
100 percent yes. Regardless of whether the car accident was major or minor, it is always in your best interest to consult a Darien attorney before going to court to answer your Hit-and-Run charges. Police officers may lead you to believe that your CGS 14-224 arrest/ticket is not serious and that you will be able to easily explain the situation to the court and have your case dropped. However, this is rarely the case. You will get to court and prosecutors will want you to take a plea or diversionary program. You’re much better off understanding the various case disposition options available to you and understanding your defense strategy options, especially when you’re facing an arrest for misdemeanor or felony Evading Responsibility under CGS 14-224.
Evading Responsibility Arrests Report to Stamford Court
As Darien does not have a criminal courthouse of its own, all arrests for Evading Responsibility CGS 14-224 (or any other crime) must report to Stamford Superior Court. Prosecutors are very suspicious of anyone who leaves the scene of an accident, and will immediately ask you why you left the scene. Lying to prosecutors is a crime. This is why it is important to be represented by an attorney on your first court date, so that your lawyer can speak to the Stamford Court prosecutor on your behalf and deflect these questions. A lawyer in Darien could work hard to reach a quick disposition that leaves you without hit and run charges on your permanent criminal record.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Just Got a Ticket / Summons for Evading Responsibility?
Yes. Getting a “Misdemeanor Summons and Complaint” ticket for Evading Responsibility from a Police Officer or a Connecticut State Trooper is actually still considered an arrest, even if it just feels like you just were handed a Speeding ticket. Anytime you receive a Misdemeanor Summons and Complaint ticket for a Hit-and-Run, the charge will appear as a pending felony or misdemeanor charge against you on any employment or criminal background check until the case is dismissed and expunged. So be sure not to blow off and skip your first court date, and try to work quickly with your Darien lawyer to try and get the hit and run case dismissed.
One-Car Accidents and Hit and Run Charges
Most people don’t know that you can be arrested for Evading Responsibility for leaving the scene of a one-car accident, even if you don’t think any property was damaged, or even if the “property” is a tree on the side of the road, or guardrail on the side of a highway. No matter what you hit with your car, you are required under Connecticut Statute to call 911 to report the accident and to leave your personal information with the property owner. Believe it or not, and even if the only damage that occurred was to your car, if you don’t report the accident, then you can be arrested in Darien for Evading Responsibility under C.G.S. § 14-224.
Darien Hit-and-Run Arrests Can Be Felonies or Misdemeanors
Under CGS § 14-224, Evading Responsibility can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the specifics of your car accident. Whether you face a felony or a misdemeanor charge depends on the damages and injuries caused by the car accident. Under a more serious subsection of C.G.S. § 14-224, you can be arrested for Felony Evading Responsibility if you cause serious physical injury to another person. All other Evading Responsibility arrests are usually classified as misdemeanors, especially when there is no serious physical injury or only property is damaged. It is not uncommon to be improperly or mistakenly charged for felony Evading Responsibility charge at the beginning of your case, which can then later be reduced or dismissed once hospital records are subpoenaed by your top Darien hit and run lawyer. Making sure your charges are accurate is critical not only for the resolution of your criminal case, but also for any online media coverage and background checks run by employers.
Drunk Driving and Evading Responsibility Charges
As any of the best Darien lawyers understand, police officers and court prosecutors will assume that if you left the scene of an accident, then you must have been breaking another serious motor vehicle law—like DWI / DUI, driving without insurance, or driving with a suspended license (or no license at all). This is the first issue that needs to be addressed in your hit and run case, especially if your Darien lawyer is trying to head off an arrest, and they are trying to save you the public embarrassment and fallout of having an arrest published on the internet.
By working closely with the Police Department early on in your case, your attorney may be able to keep your case classified as a “civil matter,” especially if they are able to convince the police that you left the scene out of panic or your urgent need to tend to an injury. While suspicious, it isn’t unusual for people to panic and leave the scene of an accident in Darien Connecticut without leaving their contact information, especially in the case of teenagers and new drivers who aren’t so comfortable on the roads.
Driver’s License Penalties for Evading Responsibility Arrests
If you are arrested or ticketed for Evading Responsibility, in violation of C.G.S. § 14-224, then it’s important to realize that your criminal case comes with other repercussions. As your top Darien lawyer will warn you, pleading guilty to a Evading Responsibility arrest or summons ticket automatically triggers a driver’s license suspension in addition to a permanent criminal record.
So exactly how long will the DMV suspend your license with an Evading Responsibility conviction per CGS 14-224?
At least 90 days. When determining the length of time to suspend your license, the Connecticut DMV takes into account your criminal conviction record and the severity of the accident in your case. If you are convicted for a felony Evading Responsibility / Hit-and-Run arrest in Darien Connecticut because you caused serious physical injury, or even an accidental death, then you can expect your license to be suspended for at least 1 year. If you are a Connecticut Evading Responsibility repeat offender, then suspensions can extend to at least 2 years. For less serious misdemeanor Evading Responsibility convictions in Darien, your license will be suspended for 90 days for a first offense, as outlined in C.G.S. § 14-111.
Can I Go to Jail for My Hit-and-Run Arrest in Darien?
Yes, but there are many defense strategies available to you that can help you avoid jail. There are many considerations that determine whether a Darien Evading Responsibility arrest will result in jail time. The court typically takes into consideration the extent of the damages and injuries alleged in your case (especially if someone was critically injured). The court and prosecutors look at your criminal arrest history, as well as whether or not you’ve paid the victim for their repair costs and medical bills. Were you properly insured to cover all of the damages to the car and passengers? Were you remorseful? What does your driving record look like? Were you committing the additional crime of distracted driving with a cell phone?
Under Connecticut law, a misdemeanor Evading Responsibility conviction can result in a maximum 1-year prison sentence, followed by probation, and monetary fines. A felony Evading Responsibility conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, followed by probation and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000. While drivers rarely get the maximum jail sentence for a first offense, you and your top Darien lawyer’s priorities should be no jail, no criminal record, and a complete dismissal and expungement of your hit and run arrest as quickly as possible.
You Can Be Arrested for Evading Responsibility Even if You Weren’t Driving?
This one is hard to believe for even some of the best criminal lawyers. If your car was involved in a hit-and-run accident, then the owner can be arrested for Evading Responsibility, even if he or she wasn’t driving the car at the time of the accident. This usually occurs when the police are able to identify the car involved in the accident (through photographs and accident reconstruction), but still cannot identify the driver.
You see, under Connecticut statutory law, police officers are able to impute operation and control of the car to the registered owner. This means if your teenager borrows your car and is involved in a hit-and-run accident, the parent-owner of the car can be arrested. The burden then shifts to the owner to prove to police and the court that he or she was not actually driving the car, and was not responsible for the accident. Cases like these illustrate why it’s so critical to have an experienced Darien hit and run lawyer involved during the investigation stage of your case, even if you are truly innocent. Your attorney will know exactly what evidence needs to be presented to the Police, and to prove you were not present at the scene of the accident, so that you can avoid an arrest, court case, and all the expenses and headaches that accompany them.
Removing an Evading Arrest from the Internet
The best criminal lawyers see it all too often—how quickly online arrest reports spread through the community. Federal and state Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) laws require police departments to make arrest report information public. This typically includes the public release of arrest report summaries, names and addresses of those arrested, and humiliating mug shot photos. Local online news websites, such as the Darien Times, Darien Patch, and Darien News Online will then publish your arrest report summaries and mug shots online, often manufacturing a full news story to accompany the information provided in the police reports. What the Police and online news outlets fail to appreciate is just how devastating these public reports of your arrest can be to your personal life, your career, and your ability to support your family.
So what can be done about all this negative internet publicity that accompanies a Darien Connecticut arrest? How can you get your Darien Connecticut Evading Responsibility arrest offline and off Google? For starters, you can contact the internet scrubbing lawyers at Mark Sherman Law. We are one of the leading law firms in Connecticut in this area. In 2011— before any other firm was talking about “internet scrubbing”—the Mark Sherman Law Firm launched its first-of-its-kind in Connecticut “internet scrubbing” practice group to hold Connecticut news websites accountable for continuing to publish arrest reports of clients who had their cases dismissed and expunged. It can be a complex and adversarial legal battle; however, the Mark Sherman Law Firm has successfully removed Darien arrest reports for Evading Responsibility clients and other clients charged by the Darien Police Department. There’s a reason we’ve been profiled in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal—our results. So contact us for a consultation and click here for more information about our national internet / Google scrubbing practice.
Dealing with the Victim of a Hit and Run Case
It’s not unusual for victims of a Hit and Run car accident to voice their concerns to a police officer, prosecutor, or judge about their property damage or physical injuries. Perhaps, however, this alleged “victim” in your car accident was drunk driving or texting while driving, and the car accident wasn’t your fault after all. For these reasons, it’s critical that your top Darien attorney considers what evidence in the evading responsibility case should be preserved by the judge—including cell phone evidence, blood evidence, hospital records and video camera surveillance evidence.
Interviews with Car Insurance Claim Investigators
As with any car accident, you will also need to provide recorded testimony to auto insurance companies, who will be interested in taking a recorded statement from both you and the other driver regarding your car accident and your Evading Responsibility arrest. So if you are facing a Evading Responsibility arrest, then you should have your top Darien attorney by your side during this phone or in-person interview, as everything you say to the insurance company adjuster / investigator can be used against you in your criminal case.
If you plead guilty to Evading Responsibility, then your rates will certainly skyrocket. On the other hand, if you are able to get your charges dropped, then auto insurance underwriters typically look much more favorably upon the disposition when renewing your policy and calculating your new annual premiums. So before pleading guilty, make sure you’ve discussed all possible defense strategies (and options other than pleading guilty) with your top Darien lawyer.
Contact a Darien Hit and Run Attorney
If you are being investigated or have been charged with Evading Responsibility / C.G.S. § 14-224, or are currently under investigation for an accident where you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, then contact one of the associates or partners at Mark Sherman Law today. Our priority is helping you to avoid an arrest or permanent criminal conviction record. Our Darine hit and run lawyers could work with you to attempt to get your Evading Responsibility arrest dismissed as quickly as possible. Click here to read reviews from former Evading Responsibility clients on Avvo.com (a certified lawyer review website). Then call us to set up a consultation.