Top four cases of celebrities involved in a hit-and-run
And what to do if you find yourself in a hit-skip, according to Columbus criminal defense attorneys
A car accident happens in a split-second. You’re on your way to pick little Jimmy up after soccer practice. Your phone goes off, you glance down and … BAM! You’ve hit the car stopped in front of you.
The crunch of metal and sudden jolt get your adrenaline pumping. Your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. You panic. And, before you can think, you speed away from the scene of the crash.
As Columbus criminal defense attorneys, we know that sometimes good people make bad choices. If you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident (aka “hit-and-run” or “hit-skip”), you’ll need the advice of the experienced lawyers at Yavitch & Palmer.
It might even help to know you’re not alone.
Famous people famous for a hit-and-run
If you’ve been involved in a hit-skip situation, you have some pretty famous company.
- Lindsay Lohan was arrested in an incident in New York City when a Porsche driven by the actress allegedly clipped a pedestrian. He reported the incident to police, and Lohan was arrested later that night when she was leaving a nightclub. Lohan ultimately wasn’t prosecuted.
- Another actress famous for making headlines found herself charged with hit-and-run in two separate incidents. Amanda Bynes denied her charges in a tweet directed at no less than the President of the United States: “Hey @BarackObama… I don’t drink. Please fire the cop who arrested me. I also don’t hit and run. The end.” (We advise that you seek advice from our criminal defense lawyers, not Twitter help from Obama.)
- In a more serious case, rap producer and executive Suge Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder after a hit-and-run incident in Compton, California, left one man dead and one injured. Knight pleaded not guilty and is still awaiting trial.
- Late Senator Ted Kennedy’s involvement in a fatal crash on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, on July 18, 1969, stayed with him through his political career. Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash after causing injury in the accident that claimed the life of his young colleague, Mary Jo Kopechne.
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Hit-and-run laws in Ohio
If you are involved in a car accident in the state of Ohio, you are legally obligated to stop at the scene. Period.
Whether the accident involved serious damage or was a minor “fender-bender,” you are required to give the following information to the other driver:
- Your name
- Your address
- If you are not the owner of the vehicle you were operating, the owner’s name and address
- The registered number of your vehicle
You also should be prepared to display your driver’s license to those involved in the accident or members of law enforcement. And these same rules apply whether the accident took place on a public road or highway or elsewhere.
What if there is an injury in the crash?
If the other person is injured or otherwise unable to comprehend or record your information, you must stay at the scene until a police officer arrives.
Leaving the scene of an accident where an injury is involved also significantly raises the seriousness of charges you can face. You can go from a first-degree misdemeanor to a fifth-degree felony, which could involve 6 to 12 months of jail time. And if you leave the scene of an accident where someone is killed, the charges will get even more serious.
What if I hit an unoccupied vehicle?
A very common type of hit-skip violation comes when you strike a parked or otherwise unattended vehicle. Your immediate temptation is to think, “Nobody saw that,” and just drive away. But what if somebody did see it, recorded your license plate number and reported it to law enforcement? Now you’re facing charges.
The guidelines for this scenario still require you to submit the above information (name, address, etc.). You are required to leave your info in writing, somewhere conspicuous on (or in) the other vehicle. Here’s a good reason to make sure you’ve got a pen and paper in your glove box … just in case.
What if I damage property other than a vehicle?
What if you’re driving down a rural road, you glance down at your phone (again, no phones while you’re driving!), and you take out someone’s mailbox?
If you damage any realty or personal property, you are required to stop at the scene and “take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the property.” If you aren’t able to find the owner after a reasonable search, the law requires you to contact the police department of the city or village where the incident occurred to report it within 24 hours.
Again, maybe you think no one saw it, so what’s the harm? But you’ll be facing a first-degree misdemeanor if someone else saw you and got your license number. So don’t take that chance.
What if I’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident?
If you did panic in the moment and find yourself charged with a hit-and-run, the experienced Columbus attorneys of Yavitch & Palmer are here to listen to the details of your case. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony charge, you’ll want a team that knows the ins and outs of Ohio law acting in your defense. Give us a call today at 614-224-6142.