Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident in Massachusetts is another of the many crimes set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24. The statute is virtually non-comprehensible and extremely difficult for a lay person to read. As to leaving the scene, there are essentially three crimes for which you can be charged, each of which his significant differences in terms of proof and potential penalty.
- Leaving the Scene of Property Damage
The law states that if you get into an accident, whether with another car or some other type of property and you fail to make known your name, address and vehicle registration you are guilty of a crime. To sustain a conviction of this offense the prosecutor must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt. 1) that you operated a motor vehicle, 2) that it was on a public way, 3) that during the course of such operation you collided with or injured in some way another vehicle or property, 4) that you knew that you had done so and 5) that after doing so you failed to stop, give your name, home address and the registration number of your car.
Fine of $20 to $200
Jail sentence for between 2 weeks and 2 years
Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury Not Resulting in Death
The law pertaining to this crime is virtually identical to leaving the scene of property damage except that it adds the element of causing injury to another person.
Fine of $500 to $1,000
Jail sentence for between 6 months and 2 years
Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury Resulting in Death
Again, this crime has similar elements to the two crimes referenced above. The significant difference is that that accident her results in the death of another person and that the defendant must have left the scene in order “to avoid prosecution or evade apprehension”. This is a felony. Massachusetts district courts do not have jurisdiction over this crime.
Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
State prison sentence of 2 ½ to 10 years or jail for 1 to 2 ½ years There is a minimum mandatory 1 year sentence that must be served
This statute was enacted to enable anyone who was injured or whose property was damaged to a motor vehicle to get immediate and accurate information about the driver of the other vehicle. Your obligations under this statute are not satisfied by stopping at a remote place or being passively willing to answer questions. The statute imposes on you an affirmative duty to stop and make known the pertinent information.
The statute was created for another reason as well. People who operate motor vehicle while intoxicated have a tendency to flee after an accident to avoid prosecution. Most judges and prosecutors suspect that people who leave the scene of an accident without stopping and making themselves known did so because they should not have been driving. Thus, even though you might avoid the consequence of a drunk driving prosecution you are still looking at a severe penalty. Keep this in mind as well. The registry will take your license if you are convicted of leaving the scene after property damage, personal injury or death.
Attleboro District Court: Pretrial Probation for Woman Charged With Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Property Damage
Several weeks ago our client was at a local bar with a friend. She left the establishment, backed out of the parking lot and struck a parked vehicle. She then left the scene. A patron in the lot witnessed the incident. He called the police to alert them to what he just saw. The man provided the police with the license plates. Officers met up with the woman at her home and questioned her about the incident. She admitted to having committed the crime and a criminal complaint issued charging leaving the scene of an accident with property damage G.L. c. 90 Section 24. Attorney Neyman was hired. Today, our office was able to get the woman pretrial probation. All charges will be dismissed.
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Woburn District Court: Complaint Charging Leaving the Scene With Property Damage Does Not Issue
The defendant is a forty-eight year old software engineer. On October 26, 2016 he was driving in North Reading, Massachusetts following a slow car. He decided to pass the vehicle notwithstanding the solid yellow lines separating the lane of oncoming traffic. The slower vehicle sped up to prevent him from re-entering the lane. Nevertheless, the accused got back into the lane however not before striking the other vehicle and causing it some substantial damage. An investigation quickly led the police to our client who was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. The charge was a violation of G.L. c. 90 Section 24. Today, at a clerk magistrate hearing Attorney Neyman convinced the clerk magistrate not to issue the complaint.
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Fall River District Court: Charges of Leaving the Scene With Personal Injury Against New Jersey Truck Driver Dismissed
The defendant is a truck driver from New Jersey. The prosecution alleged that in August of 2016, the defendant was driving a truck with a trailer carrying a motor boat. He ran a stop sign and got into an accident injuring an occupant of another car. He left the scene and was located several blocks away by police officers responding to the scene. The man was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury a misdemeanor in accordance with G.L. c. 90 Section 24. This charge cannot be continued without a finding and a guilty verdict would result in the defendant losing his license and unable to drive for work. Today, Attorney Neyman was able to get the charges dismissed.
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