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I Fled the Scene of an Accident. Now What?

I Fled the Scene of an Accident. Now What?

I Fled the Scene of an Accident. Now What?

Unfortunately, car accidents are an inevitable and common occurrence. With nearly 10,000 fatalities within the first three months of 2023, it’s more important than ever for drivers to obey traffic laws to prioritize their safety, not to mention the safety of their passengers and fellow drivers on South Carolina roads.

Regardless of fault or intention, fleeing the scene of an accident in South Carolina can result in harsh criminal penalties for drivers, including felony charges. As you can imagine, this can be terrifying for involved parties, especially those who acted without thinking (such as fleeing the accident in a panic).

What constitutes a hit-and-run in South Carolina? Keep reading to learn what constitutes a hit-and-run offense under South Carolina law and how drivers can prepare for criminal court after fleeing the scene of an accident.

What Constitutes a Hit-and-Run in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, leaving the scene of an accident (“hit-and-run”) is a serious crime that can lead to life-altering penalties if convicted. It’s codified in South Carolina Code § 56-5-1210 (“Duties of drivers involved in accident resulting in death or personal injury; moving or removing vehicles”), which states that drivers involved in accidents that result in bodily injury or the death of another must immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident.

Your Legal Obligations After a Car Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident without stopping and fulfilling certain obligations is considered a hit-and-run offense. These obligations include providing one's contact information (including name, address, and vehicle registration number) to any other party involved in the accident, as well as rendering reasonable assistance to anyone injured.

Hit-and-Runs: Felony or Misdemeanor?

Hit-and-runs can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense in South Carolina depending on the nature of the crime, meaning that the penalties for a hit-and-run offense in South Carolina will inevitably vary based on the driver’s unique circumstances.

Penalties of Hit-and-Run Offenses in SC

Generally, the following criminal penalties can apply after a hit-and-run conviction:

  1. Accidents involving property damage: Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is considered a misdemeanor. If convicted, individuals may face up to one year in jail and fines.
  2. Accidents causing bodily injury: Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury is considered a felony offense. If convicted, individuals can face up to 10 years of imprisonment.
  3. Accidents resulting in death: If a hit-and-run accident leads to the death of another person, the consequences are even more severe. This offense is also a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

4 Essential Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run

If you were charged with a hit-and-run offense in South Carolina, securing experienced representation from a hit-and-run defense attorney is of paramount importance. Defendants can take the following steps as soon as possible to maximize their chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in court:

  1. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in hit-and-run cases. They will guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and build a strong defense strategy on your behalf.
  2. Refrain from making any statements to law enforcement or anyone else regarding the incident until you have sought legal advice. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
  3. Gather any evidence or documentation related to the accident, including photographs, witness statements, and medical records, if applicable. This information can be valuable in building your defense.
  4. Cooperate fully with your attorney and follow their advice throughout the legal proceedings. They will work diligently to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Defending the Accused in South Carolina Since 2004

Our aggressive criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC are committed to serving the accused in Lexington and beyond. If you’re facing criminal charges in South Carolina, it’s imperative to secure a strong defense as soon as possible, as experienced representation can mean the difference between walking away as a free American and spending years in prison.

Whether you require skilled counsel to dispute domestic violence allegations, DUI charges, or other criminal offenses, our firm has the diverse knowledge and skillset to defend your rights and aggressively pursue justice on your behalf, all while fighting to drop or reduce the criminal charges against you in criminal court. Reach out to our office to consult with a qualified Lexington defense lawyer.

Arrested? Take the first step toward restoring your freedom. (803) 359-3301 to schedule a free consultation with a fierce Lexington defense attorney. 


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