In a highly-connected era, there is likely a video or photo of you leaving the accident scene in Denver. Besides, your cell phone history can further place you at the scene of the accident when it occurred. A warrant of arrest might follow, or you might receive a citation in your mail.

Leaving without calling for aid, exchanging information, or identifying yourself is enough to attract these charges. A Denver criminal defense attorney can notify you of the severity of your charges based on the surrounding circumstances.

When is Leaving the Scene a Misdemeanor?

If you left an accident scene in Colorado and the prosecution charges you with a misdemeanor, it could mean two things. Either:

  • Only property damage occurred, or
  • There were injuries

Note that injuries could mean:

  • Impairment of physical condition
  • Impairment of mental condition
  • An illness
  • Physical pain

If injuries are the result of the accident, the prosecution might slap you with a Class 1 Misdemeanor Traffic Offense. Property damage without injuries might be charged as a Class 2 Misdemeanor Traffic Offense.

When is Leaving the Scene a Felony?

A felony charge for leaving the scene is only rightful if:

  • Death resulted from the accident
  • There was serious bodily injury

Serious bodily injury, in this case, could be in the form of:

  • Burns of the second or third degree
  • Fractures
  • Breaks
  • Substantial risk of impaired function of any part of the body or organ
  • Significant risk of loss of the function of any part of the body or organ
  • Substantial risk of severe permanent disfigurement
  • Substantial risk of death

The above could occur at the time of the actual injury or at a later time. If you think that the accident scene didn’t result in any of the above, a Denver leaving the scene lawyer can ask the prosecution to reduce or drop the charges.

What are the Consequences for Leaving the Scene with Injuries?

Despite being a misdemeanor, the penalties for this Class 1 Misdemeanor Traffic Offense are pretty serious. A conviction could come with:

  • Mandatory revocation of your driver’s license
  • An additional 12 points to your driver’s license
  • Probation for a year or longer
  • Community or useful public service
  • Restitution 10 days to a year in jail
  • Court costs and surcharges
  • Fines as low as $300 or as high as $1,000

Denver’s experienced leaving the accident scene attorney can assess your situation and advise on ways to get the best possible outcome.

What are the Consequences for Leaving the Scene with Serious Bodily Injuries?

If anyone dies from the scene of the accident you flee from, one could be convicted with a Class 3 felony. You could be punished with:

  • Fines from $3,000 to $750,000
  • 4 to 12 years imprisonment
  • Restitution
  • Points to your driver’s license
  • License revocation

Serious injuries, on the other hand, come with:

  • Fines of between $2,000 and $500,000
  • 2 to 6 years in prison
  • License revocation
  • Additional points to your driver’s license

These penalties might be avoidable if you get a good defense team to fight for your rights skillfully. Talk to attorney Daniel M. Murphy, a seasoned leaving the scene lawyer in Denver, CO, to discuss your options.

What Happens if the Victim Pursues a Civil Lawsuit?

Leaving the scene of an accident doesn’t only come with criminal ramifications. The victim can file a civil lawsuit in an attempt to recover both economic and non-economic damages from you or your insurance company. They might petition for compensation for:

  • Loss of family relationships
  • Loss of lifestyle and activities
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional anguish
  • Mental injuries such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression
  • Cost of medical devices and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages during recovery
  • Lost potential future income
  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses

Remember, civil lawsuits might only follow you if it is established that you were at fault in the accident. So, if you flee from a scene of an accident you contributed to causing, you might need to work harder in your defense. You might suffer financially if you have to pay damages that can go up to millions of dollars.

What Defense Strategies Do Attorneys Use in Leaving the Scene Lawsuits?

Your defense is very critical in the outcome of your case. Remember that the circumstances in each incident greatly vary and might inform the most appropriate defense strategy. You could attribute your decision to leave the scene to one of the following:

  • Poor judgment
  • Adrenaline
  • The driver’s lack of experience
  • The driver’s young age
  • Not knowing that you had hit someone or something

You might want to explain such circumstances to the court in Denver. But make sure that you talk to a legal expert to find out how to proceed in that regard.

How Long Do the Affected Parties Have to File?

Statutes of limitations help ensure that trials are not only fair but also based on the best possible evidence. Both testimonials and physical evidence can fade or become unusable with time. Accident victims might lose their right to charge someone for leaving the scene five years after the incident.

However, the time limits only apply if you are within the state. If the suspect is in hiding or out of the State of Colorado, the statutory clock might pause ticking. But as soon as they re-enter the state, the counting resumes.

A Legal Professional Protecting and Defending Your Rights in Denver

While serious injuries attract more grievous charges than less serious ones, the penalties can be life-changing in both. Your freedom, finances, driving record, and reputation could be at stake. The victim can file a criminal or a civil lawsuit that might have varied repercussions on your life. Your best weapon as an accused person is proper legal representation.

Daniel M. Murphy has prior experience as a lawyer at the public defender’s office. His know-how of the ins and outs of the Colorado criminal justice system might be instrumental to your leaving the accident scene case. Schedule a FREE consultation with us if you are determined to get the best possible outcomes.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.