Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Massachusetts

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Leaving the Scene of an Accident Criminal Defense Attorney

The law in Massachusetts requires drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident to stop at the scene and provide specific information (license and registration) to the either the other parties involved or to the police.  Leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage or personal injury not resulting in death is a misdemeanor offense.  If you leave the scene after causing a death, you are facing a felony charge.

There are a number of reasons why our clients are charged with leaving the scene of an accident.  Many were not aware of what their legal obligations are, while others panicked because of impairment (drugs or alcohol), due to warrant, license or insurance issues, or just out of fear of the consequences.   Sometimes, the client wasn't involved and the police have been misinformed.

No matter the reason, we can help.  Do not speak to the police until you speak to an attorney.  Leaving the scene of an accident cases are often defensible and frequently the police don't know who was driving the car at the time of the accident.  If you speak to the police and admit that you were driving, you will most certainly be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident.  We can help determine the status of the police investigation against you and protect your rights.  

Leaving the scene of an accident without making themselves known and exchanging license and registration information is a violation of G.L. c. 90, § 24.  This can be very serious offense resulting in fines, probation or possibly incarceration, as well as collateral consequences such as license suspension, increased insurance rates and a possibly a civil lawsuit.

If you are facing a leaving the scene of an accident charge, contact us.  We are experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys and can help you to protect your rights and limit your exposure. 

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PROPERTY DAMAGE

G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (2)(a) provides that, if you are driving on a public way and you knowingly collide with another car or property, you must stop and make known your name, address and registration number.  Failure to do so is a misdemeanor offense carrying a fine of  $20-$200, jail from 2 weeks to 2 years, or both.

In order to be found guilty of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Property Damage, the prosecutor must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1.  The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2.  The defendant operated it on a way, or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
  3.  While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused damage to another vehicle or property either by colliding with it or in some other way;
  4.  The defendant knew he or she had collided with another’s property, or had in some way caused damage to another’s property; and
  5.  After causing such damage, the defendant did not stop and make known his or her name, home address, and the registration number of the motor vehicle.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY

Often, Leaving the Scene of an Accident charges involve personal injury to another person, which is governed by G.L. c. 90, § 24(2)(a½)(1).  Again, if you are driving on a public way and knowingly collide with or otherwise cause injury to any person, you must stop and make known your name, address and registration number.  Failure to do so is a misdemeanor offense, but carries a minimum sentence (not mandatory) of imprisonment for 6 months, up to 2 years,with a fine ranging from $500-$1,000.

In order to be found guilty of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury, the prosecutor must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1.  The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2.  The defendant operated it on a [public way];
  3.  While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused an injury to another person;
  4.  The defendant knew he or she had injured another person; and
  5.  After causing such damage, the defendant did not stop and make known his or her name, home address, and the registration number of the motor vehicle.

In addition, a conviction of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury will result in the automatic license suspension of 1 year for a first offense, or 2 years for a subsequent conviction.

LEAVING THE SCENE AFTER CAUSING DEATH

If the accident causes injuries resulting in the death of another person, the offense becomes a felony governed by M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2)(2).  A conviction carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 1 year in jail or 2.5 years in the state prison, as well as a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

In addition, a conviction of Leaving the Scene After Causing Death will result in the automatic license suspension of 3 years for a first offense, or 10 years for a subsequent conviction.

In order to be convicted of the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Death, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1.  The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2.  The defendant operated it on a [public way];
  3.  While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused an injury to another person resulting in death;
  4.  The defendant knew he or she had injured another person; and
  5.  After causing such damage, the defendant did not stop and make known his or her name, home address, and the registration number of the motor vehicle.

Free Consultation on Any Massachusetts Criminal Charges

If you would like to speak about your case and get an expert opinion, please call or text us at any time.  We will listen to the facts of your case, address your concerns and let you know what your options are.

The initial consultation is free and there is no pressure to hire.  If you choose to hire us, we will give you a reasonable quote and we can discuss payment options.

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The onlyreason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first.

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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