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In Florida, Leaving the Scene of an Accident is defined as the willful leaving of a crash scene without first providing your name, address, and registration and driver’s license information to the other person involved in the crash.
 
Essentially, the State will be required to prove the following:
  1. That you drove a vehicle;
  2. That you were involved in an accident or crash;
  3. That, knowing you were involved in the accident or crash, wilfully left the scene;
  4. That you left the scene without first providing the required information
It is not a defense to a Leaving the Scene of an Accident charge that the property owner was not present. Florida law specifically requires you to report the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency and provide the required information or at least leave documentation at the scene providing the required information.

Penalties for a Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charge

In Florida, Dealing in Stolen Property is classified depending on whether the crash resulted in mere property damage, injury, or death.

If the crash only resulted in property damage, Florida law classifies the charge as a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to:
  1. Sixty days in the county jail;
  2. Six months of supervised probation;
  3. A $500 fine
If the crash resulted in injury to a person, Florida law classifies the charge as a third degree felony punishable by up to:
  1. Five years in the state prison;
  2. Five years of supervised probation;
  3. A $5,000 fine
If the crash resulted in the death of a person, Florida law classifies the charge as a first degree felony punishable by up to:
  1. Thirty years in state prison;
  2. Thirty years of supervised probation;
  3. A $10,000 fine
Further, if you commit such a violation while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, Florida law mandates that you serve a minimum of two years in stat prison in addition to any other penalty.

Defenses to a Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charge

In addition to factual defenses that would be raised at trial to show reasonable doubt as to the crime alleged, some common defenses to a Leaving the Scene of an Accident charge in Florida include:

You sustained an injury that required immediate medical attention
If you are injured in the crash and require immediate medical attention, then your necessary medical treatment would trump any duty to report and you would be exempt from fulfilling the reporting requirements required by law.
 
Certainly, this does not mean that you are allowed to refuse to ever provide information regarding the crash, but rather allows you to leave the scene of the accident without risking violating Florida law.
 
This scenario is common in serious crashes where a person is taken via ambulance to the hospital from the crash scene. Obviously, it would not make sense to then charge the person with Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

You had no knowledge you were involved in an accident
Florida law only punishes the willful leaving of an accident scene that a person knows they were in. Your knowledge of the fact that you were actually in an accident is critical to prove the crime. If it cannot be shown that you knew you were in an accident, you will have a defense to the charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
 
Details will matter in such situations. Details such as how much damage was done to the vehicle and/or property as well as other factors influence whether this is viable defense.

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Kaigle if you’ve been charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida!
(407) 545-6416