Hit and Runs: What You Should Know

In Texas, striking a pedestrian or vehicle and leaving the area is a serious criminal offense. Also known as leaving the scene of an accident, a conviction for hit and run can incur severe legal penalties.

After a Texas road accident, the person responsible for the collision is required to stop and render aid if possible. If rendering aid is not possible or unnecessary, the responsible person is expected to remain at the scene to provide identification and information to law enforcement.

These laws apply whether the accident occurs on a public highway, a private drive or in a parking lot. No matter where it occurs, leaving the scene of an accident may have long-lasting consequences.

Hit and Run Penalties

Being convicted of hit and run in Texas can have severe legal consequences, including charges of felony or misdemeanor. A vehicle collision that results in death or serious injury can bring felony charges if the responsible driver leaves the scene. These penalties can include:

  • Years of incarceration in state prison or county jail
  • Thousands of dollars in fines
  • Long-term or permanent loss of driving privileges

A vehicle collision that results in vehicle damage, minor injuries or property damage can also have serious consequences. The penalties can include:

  • Up to a year in county jail
  • Up to $4000 in fines
  • Long-term loss of driving privileges

There may also be civil penalties for a conviction in a hit and run case. The injured driver, or the family of the injured driver, may take the defendant to court and file a civil suit. If this happens and the judge awards financial damages to the plaintiff, the defendant may have to pay thousands of dollars in damages to the plaintiff. In certain cases, the judge may even order the defendant to pay double or triple the amount being requested by the plaintiff.

Additional Consequences

Jail time, steep fines and civil suits are not the only things defendants have to worry about in hit and run cases. They may also face additional penalties, including:

  • Loss of insurance coverage
  • Increased insurance payments
  • Loss of public respect or trust

Facing these kinds of consequences alone isn’t a good idea for any defendant. The best tactic when facing criminal or civil charges of hit and run is to hire a defense attorney.

Legal Defense

Hiring a defense attorney is the first step that should be taken after charges of hit and run have been filed in Texas. In nearly every case of this type, the sooner an attorney can be hired, the better. This is because, as soon as an attorney is on the case, a legal defense can begin to be constructed.

A good legal defense is indispensable in these kinds of cases. For example, a defense attorney could introduce evidence to show that the defendant was not responsible for the vehicle accident. This could involve introducing evidence from traffic cameras, police accident reports and eyewitness testimony.

Additionally, the defense could argue that the defendant actually attempted to render aid after the accident occurred. Alternatively, the defense attorney could argue that the defendant determined that aid was unnecessary because the defendant was uninjured or the defendant refused help.

If one of these defenses is successful, the charges could be dropped or reduced. Even if the defendant is found guilty in a hit and run case, the attorney may be able to petition the court for a sentence of deferred adjudication. If successful, this could mean that the defendant’s criminal record could eventually be expunged or sealed.

Attorney Matt Sharp Can Help

If you are facing Hit and Run charges, contact us immediately. We will fight hard to protect your rights and your future. Call (713) 868-6100 or email for your free and confidential consultation.