Everyday people throughout the Greater Houston area are charged with hit and run after leaving the scene of an accident involving death, injury or property damage. In Texas, there is no charge called “hit and run.” Instead, under Texas law, there are several different charges that can be filed against a driver who is alleged to have fled the scene of an accident, depending on the type of damage alleged to have been committed. Depending on the facts of the case, it can be a serious criminal charge that can be subject to severe punishment and a permanent criminal record. If you are charged with any form of hit and run or are under investigation for hit and run, it is very important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.
Hit & Run Involving Injury or Death
The most serious hit and run charge under Texas Law is known as Failure to Stop and Render Aid (or Accident Involving Person Injury or Death). Under Texas Transportation Code 550.021, if you are involved in an accident that results in or is reasonably likely to result in injury or death, you have several responsibilities immediately following the accident, including stopping or returning to the scene, providing reasonable assistance to anyone who might be injured, and providing your personal and insurance information. If these requirements are not complied with, you could face a hit and run charge for Failure to Stop and Render Aid.
If you are charged with Failure to Stop and Render Aid, the level of the offense you will be facing will be determined by the severity of the injuries. For hit and run cases involving death, you could be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by 2-20 years in prison. For cases involving serious bodily injury, you could face a third-degree felony, punishable by 2-10 years in prison. For cases involving non-serious injury, the punishment is up to five years.
Hit & Run Involving Property Damage
Hit and Run cases alleging property damage are all misdemeanors, although the level of offense and potential punishment is also based on the facts of the case and the type of damage alleged to have been caused. The most common type of hit and run offense filed in the Greater Houston area is known as Failure to Stop and Give Information (also known as Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle).
Under Texas Transportation Code 550.022, if you are involved in an accident involving damage to a vehicle, you must stop or return to the scene and remain at the scene until personal and insurance information is exchanged with the other driver. Failing to comply with these requirements can lead to a charge of Failure to Stop and Give Information, which is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor if the damages to all vehicles is less than $200, or a Class B misdemeanor if the damage to all vehicles is $200 or more.
If you strike an unattended vehicle, Texas law also requires that you locate the owner of the vehicle to exchange information, or leave your information in a conspicuous place. Failure to comply with these requirements is a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is less than $200, or a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is over $200. Similarly, if you strike a fixture or highway landscaping, you must locate the owner of the property and exchange information. A violation is also a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is less than $200, or a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is over $200
What if I Am Under Investigation For Hit & Run in Texas?
If you believe that you are under investigation for hit and run in Texas, it is very important that you understand your rights. Under the Constitutions of the United States and Texas, you have an absolute right against self-incrimination. That means if the police contact you and wish to question you regarding an alleged hit and run incident, you do not have to answer their questions. Most criminal defense attorneys typically advise against speaking to the police, particularly without the benefit of an attorney present.
In many cases, in order to have enough evidence to charge a driver with some form of hit and run, the police may need a driver to assist the investigation by admitting to driving a certain vehicle at a certain place and location. For obvious reasons, it would not be in a driver’s best interest to answer questions in this situation.
Attorney Jose Ceja has represented drivers accused of hit and run throughout the Greater Houston area, including Houston, Conroe, Richmond, Angleton, Galveston. If you are charged with any form of hit and run or believe you may be under investigation, call Ceja Law Firm today.