Gillette Hit-and-Run Defense Attorneys
Accidents between moving cars are common in hit-and-run situations. A hit-and-run, however, can also include a car striking: a pedestrian, a parked car, a bike, or any other stationary property. While many people may think of civil liability, such as who will pay for the damage and any injuries sustained by parties involved, as well as whether insurance premiums would rise, it is important to understand that not complying with the Wyoming hit-and-run laws can result in more serious penalties, including criminal conviction.
Keep reading to learn about the legal definition of a hit-and-run in Wyoming, the penalties, and common defenses if you have been charged.
A hit-and-run is a crime that occurs after an accident. The law is more concerned with your actions in regard to the aftermath than the cause of the accident itself.
The legal definition of a hit-and-run in Wyoming is an incident that occurs when a driver who has been involved in a car accident fails to: stop at the scene of the accident, provide identification, or offer aid to anyone who has been hurt as a result of the incident. This is outlined in WY Stat § 31-5-1101 (2013).
WY Stat § 31-5-1102 (2013) establishes a duty to stop the vehicle where an accident involves damage to the attended vehicle or property, and WY Stat § 31-5-1103 (2013) establishes a duty to give information and render aid.
Hit-and-run laws can include harsh penalties, though the particular punishments differ from state to state in the United States. In Wyoming, depending on the details of the case, prosecutors can prosecute the offense as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
A collision that causes death or serious injury to another person will almost always result in felony hit-and-run charges. Even a hit-and-run accident resulting in considerable property damage can sometimes result in felony prosecution, depending on the circumstances. However, if no one was hurt in the accident, the charge is usually a misdemeanor.
Where an accident involves death or personal injuries, if you fail to stop or to comply with the regulations outlined in WY Stat § 31-5-1101 (2013), upon conviction, you may be imprisoned for not more than one (1) year, fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or both.
Where there is a duty to stop a vehicle where an accident involves damage to an attended vehicle or property, if you fail to stop or comply with this section, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor. This is outlined in WY Stat § 31-5-1102 (2013). As previously stated, the penalty for a misdemeanor will be less harsh compared to that of a felony in Wyoming. This will likely be a fine of no more than $750.00 and/or imprisonment in county jail for no more than 6 months.
Car accidents can and will often involve civil culpability. Accidents involving hit-and-run drivers are no exception. In addition to criminal charges, if you commit a hit-and-run, you may face civil liability from the other party involved in the accident, penalties from the state department of motor vehicles, or an increase in vehicle insurance premiums.
To be convicted of not stopping, providing identification, or affording assistance, you must normally be reasonably aware of a collision. In some cases, however, you might be able to state that you were unaware of the collision and therefore did not take the necessary steps in meeting the requirements of the law. It is worth noting, however, that ignorance is a difficult defense to establish.
Leaving a Note
If the event involves a parked vehicle or other unattended property, locating and notifying the owner may be challenging. It will be beneficial to leave a note with your contact information and report the incident to the police. This will ensure that the penalty is minimized, as you are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that you are complying with the law.
In some circumstances, you might not be at fault for carrying out a hit-and-run offense. For example, your passenger in the car might have taken the wheel or even persuaded you to flee the scene. Therefore, if you can prove that you were not at fault for the hit-and-run in regard to fleeing the scene, an experienced criminal defense lawyer might be able to shift the blame and have the passenger charged instead.
You May Not Be at Fault
Under some circumstances, a pedestrian might be jaywalking, or another car may have caused the accident. Ensuring you comply with the law in regard to stopping at the scene, providing identification, and offering aid, as well as being able to prove these facts, will likely lead to you not being charged at all. If a trial attorney can establish that you took all relevant steps in upholding the law, this will provide a solid defense for your hit-and-run charge.
If you have been charged with a hit-and-run in Wyoming, please get in touch with Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. as soon as possible: (307) 257-7800. Our team of trial attorneys has the expertise and skills required to provide you with advice and direction in facing a hit-and-run charge.
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