It is unlawful not to stop, after a traffic collision has occurred. Under Vehicle Code 20002, a hit and run without injury (only property damage), is a Misdemeanor offense. The consequences are potentially six months in jail, and a fine of $1,000 (although there is usually no jail time, even if convicted). Anyone involved in a traffic accident must pull over, as soon as they can do so safely, to exchange information (drivers license and insurance). If the accident causes damage to a parked car, the driver must leave a note with their information, for the owner of the parked car.
A common situation that may occur is that there is no safe place to pull over right away, and you lose the other car. In that case, it is important to contact the CHP office closest to your home, or closest to the location of the accident, and report the collision. That way you have proof that you at least tried to report the accident immediately. Otherwise, you could get charged with a hit and run, even though that was never your intention.
There are many defenses to hit and run cases, and many ways to get these charges dismissed. It is important to hire an attorney right away because there are many steps that may be taken to avoid any criminal prosecution. It is critical to provide insurance information asap, and try to get the insurance company to pay the property damages immediately. If the victim is compensated, we can try to get them to sign a civil compromise agreement. This is one way to try to avoid a prosecution, or to get a hit and run charge dismissed by the Judge. Another method to get hit and run charges dismissed, is by getting the Judge to allow diversion, under Penal Code 1001.95.
The Law Office of Ben Mironer has successfully had many hit and run charges dismissed. It is crucial to have good representation, with an experienced criminal defense attorney, that knows the various ways to get a dismissal.
Vehicle Code 20001
Hit and Run with Injury
A hit and run with injury offense is a “wobbler,” which means it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The extent of the injuries usually plays a big role in the prosecutor’s decision about how to file it. Also, when the injuries are serious, the prosecutor may add an enhancement for Great Bodily Injury (pursuant to Penal Code 12022.7).
The punishment for a violation of Vehicle Code 20001 is two, three, or four years in prison, if there was a serious injury. Even if it’s a felony, there is still the possibility of county jail instead of prison. The consequences are up to one year in county jail, and a mandatory minimum of 90 days.
Vehicle Code 14601
Driving with a Suspended License
It is against the law to drive when your drivers license has been suspended or revoked by the DMV. There are various reasons why someone’s driving privilege may be suspended or revoked. Some of the most common reasons are because your license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction, as a result of an Administrative Per Se DMV hearing, too many points on your driving record, or because you missed a court date for a traffic ticket.
The consequences for a violation of Vehicle Code 14601, depends on the specific reason why your license was suspended or revoked. For example, a violation of Vehicle Code 14601.2 (DUI conviction suspension), carries a mandatory minimum of 10 days in county jail. It also carries 2 points on your driving record, which can have a major impact on insurance rates. It is important to have good representation to avoid getting convicted of this offense.
The Law Office of Ben Mironer has had countless misdemeanor 14601 cases dismissed, or reduced to infractions. There are several ways we have been able to accomplish this, and we continue to provide our clients with their best opportunity for a dismissal. Sometimes, all that we need to do is clear up a hold, or other setback preventing the client from having a valid driver’s license. Other times, we’ve been able to prove that our clients didn’t have sufficient notice of the suspension. This is a required element in the offense, and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many small issues that can make or break a case, which is why it is so critical to have good representation.
Penal Code 245
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
When a vehicle is used as a deadly weapon, a prosecutor can charge you with Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Prosecutors will charge someone with either a violation of Penal Code 245(a)(1) – assault with a deadly weapon, or Penal Code 245(a)(4) – assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. Both of these offenses are wobblers, which means they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. However, a violation of Penal Code 245(a)(1) as a felony, is considered a serious felony, which means it is a STRIKE offense. On the other hand, a violation of Penal Code 245(a)(4) is not a strike, unless there is also an enhancement for great bodily injury (Penal Code 12022.7) which makes it a strike.
The punishment for both of these offenses is the same, it’s either up to one year in county jail, or 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison. It is important to have good representation to defend these cases. Sometimes people are accused of these crimes, even when no one actually gets injured. It is important to know how to argue these cases, sometimes the alleged assault is something that is not likely to cause great bodily harm, or there are problems proving the alleged assault ever happened.
Finally, it is extremely important to note that if someone is convicted of a felony violation of Penal Code 245, and a vehicle is the weapon or instrument that was used to commit the offense, then that person gets a LIFETIME driver’s license revocation. Under Vehicle Code 13351.5, the DMV must immediately revoke the license. However, the Law Office of Ben Mironer has been successful in getting our client’s licenses reinstated, after motions to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor.
Penal Code 192(c)
Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence is a wobbler offense, which means it may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the crime involved only Ordinary Negligence, then it may only be filed as a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence, for a felony conviction, is 6 years in state prison. If it’s a misdemeanor conviction, then the maximum punishment is one year in county jail.
It is critical to hire an attorney that has a track record of success, in these types of cases. The Law Office of Ben Mironer has successfully represented many clients facing Vehicular Manslaughter charges, and we know what has to be done to investigate a case properly. We work closely with experts in Human Factors, and Traffic-Collision Reconstruction. We try to determine whether the accident was even avoidable to begin with. We also examine what is being alleged as negligence. In the past, we’ve been able to prove that either our client wasn’t negligent, or that the accident was unavoidable. These are some of the common issues that must be properly examined in these cases.
Penal Code 191.5
Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated
A violation of Penal Code 191.5(a), includes the requirement of Gross Negligence. This offense is a felony, and can’t be reduced. The punishment for this crime is 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison. A prosecutor must prove that you violated the DUI laws (either alcohol or drugs), and acted with gross negligence in killing someone. These cases are extremely serious, but it’s important to remember that it truly comes down to knowledge in the field of DUI. A good DUI attorney is generally better than a good criminal defense attorney, in these specific cases.
Under Penal Code 191.5(b), a prosecutor does not need to prove Gross Negligence, but still must prove intoxication and Ordinary Negligence. This offense is a wobbler, and may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The consequences for a conviction is either up to one year in county jail, or 16, 24, or 36 months in state prison.
The Law Office of Ben Mironer has handled several cases, with very favorable results, when faced with the charge of Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated. It is critical to have very good representation in these cases because the stakes are so high. There is also a fine line between getting charged with this offense, and getting charged with DUI Watson Murder. It is crucial to have experienced representation through the process.
Penal Code 187
DUI (Watson) Murder
A person can get charged with second degree murder, if they act with reckless disregard while driving under the influence, and as a result someone is killed. This is the most serious vehicular crime, yet it occurs all too often. These cases ultimately break down to a DUI case, with the additional requirement that the driver acted with reckless disregard for human life. Ben Mironer is specifically trained in DUI testing devices, field sobriety tests, and the science behind DUI laws.
When someone is convicted of a DUI, they are always read a Watson admonition. The warning explains that driving under the influence is extremely dangerous to human life, and that if they continue to drive under the influence, and as a result someone is killed, they could get charged with murder. Prosecutors believe that if someone has received this warning, yet is involved in a fatal collision after drinking and driving, that person had notice of the dangers and disregarded the known threat to human life. However, if a prosecutor believes the driving was really dangerous, or there were other factors that exhibit a reckless disregard for human life, even someone who has never heard the Watson admonition, could get charged with second degree murder.
The punishment for a Watson murder conviction is 15 years to life in state prison. It is also a strike offense, and carries a fine of up to $10,000. It is crucial to have good representation to try to find any problems with the state’s evidence. An attorney must also know how to negotiate this type of case. Prosecutors are always tough on these cases, and it is imperative to have a skilled DUI attorney that has handled Watson murder cases before.
The Law Office of Ben Mironer has handled Watson murder cases, with very favorable results. We work closely with experts in Human Factors, Traffic Collision Reconstruction, and Forensic Toxicology. We also utilize a Private Investigator, when it’s helpful for the case. It is critical to have very good representation in these cases because the stakes are so high. There is a fine line between getting charged with this offense, and getting charged with Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated. Sometimes prosecutors will agree to reduce the Watson murder charge to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. It is crucial to have skilled representation through the process to get the best results possible.