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Leaving Scene of an Incident Without Reporting (Hit and Run)

Leaving the scene of a traffic accident is quite common. Many people simply panic after a crash. Other individuals have something to hide such as an open container of alcohol or a controlled substance in the vehicle. Other people leave the scene because their license is suspended or they have an outstanding warrant for their arrest.

The offense of "hit and run" is so common in the State of New York that law enforcement agencies have units that deal specifically with these types of cases. Attorney Stephanie Selloni is familiar with the tactics used by law enforcement officers to investigate hit-and-run cases throughout Long Island including the Nassau County Police Department and the numerous local police departments throughout the county.

Leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (also known as "hit and run") can be classified in several different ways under New York law. Leaving the scene of an incident without reporting is merely a traffic infraction if no one is injured in the incident and only property damage occurs. The traffic infraction version of the offense is set out in New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 600(1)(a).

The offense becomes an "A" misdemeanor if another person suffers "physical injury." A second offense involving "physical injury" becomes a "E" felony. Under New York law. A Hit-and-Run can also be charged as an "E" felony if another person suffered "serious physical injury" during the incident. If the "serious physical injury" results in a death, then the crime is charged as a "D" felony under New York law.

In addition to hit-and-run cases in Nassau County, Stephanie Selloni also represents clients charged with leaving the scene throughout Long Island (including Suffolk County) and the five boroughs of New York City. Call 516-972-1212 today to discuss the particular facts of your case.


What to Do After an Accusation of Leaving the Scene

Never leave the scene of a crash until you have fulfilled all of your statutory obligations. If you do leave the scene and a criminal investigation has begun, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. Never talk to law enforcement about your involvement in the incident until after you have hired an attorney. Anything you say can be used against you. On the other hand, your attorney is often in a better position to provide information on your behalf.

Your attorney can also help you invoke your right to remain silent which might discourage officers or detectives from coming to your home or work to interrogate you about these serious accusations. After an accusation that you left the scene of a traffic crash, call Law Office of Stephanie Selloni to discuss your case.

Stephanie Selloni is a criminal defense attorney experienced with fighting both misdemeanor and felony "leaving the scene of a incident" cases in Garden City, Nassau County in Long Island, NY. Make sure you have an attorney to help you through this process so that your rights are protected after this serious accusation.


Elements of the Offense of Leaving the Scene under NY Law

Under New York law, any person operating a motor vehicle who knows or has cause to know that damage has been caused to the real property or to the personal property (not including animals) of another, due to an incident involving the motor vehicle operated by such person shall, before leaving the place where the damage occurred must do the following:

  1. stop at the scene of the incident;
  2. exhibit his or her license and insurance identification card for such vehicle, when such card is required;
  3. give his or her name;
  4. give his or her residence, including street number;
  5. give his or her insurance carrier and insurance identification information including but not limited to the number and effective dates of said individual’s insurance policy; and
  6. give his or her license number to the party sustaining the damage.

Alternatively, if the person sustaining the damage is not present at the place where the damage occurred then he or she shall report the same as soon as physically able to the nearest police station or judicial officer.


Definitions under New York's Hit-and-Run Statute

The "hit and run" statute for leaving the scene of an incident without reporting defines the term “motor vehicle” to mean “every vehicle operated or driving upon a public highway which is propelled by any power other than muscular power.”

In footnote 3, the standard jury instructions provide additional information about the definition of “motor vehicle.” The term “motor vehicle” is defined in VTL Section 125. That definition contains exceptions which are not set forth in the text of the standard jury instruction.

The term “public highway” appearing in the definition of “motor vehicle” is itself separately defined in VTL Section 134 and the terms within that definition are also separately defined in article one of the VTL. These additional definitions may be an issues in certain cases, and if so, then the definitions of these terms should be expanded on accordingly.


Elements of Leaving the Scene (Hit and Run) With Only Property Damage

The statute provides for the following three elements:

  1. That on or about ____, in the county of _____, the defendant, ________, operated a motor vehicle;
  2. That at that time and place, the defendant knew or had cause to know that damage had been caused to the the real property or to the personal property [not including animals] of another, due to an incident involving the motor vehicle operated by the defendant; and
  3. That the defendant did not, before leaving the place where the damage occurred, stop, exhibit his or her license [and insurance identification card for such vehicle, when such card is required], and give his or her name, residence, including street number, insurance carrier and insurance identification information including but not limited to the number and effective dates of said individuals’ insurance policy, and license number to the party sustaining the damage, or in case the person sustaining the damage was not present at the place where the damage occurred that he or she did not report the same as soon as physically able to the nearest police station, or judicial officer.

Leaving the Scene with Personal Injury - "A" Misdemeanor

Leaving Scene of an Incident Without Reporting becomes an “A” misdemeanor when “personal injury” was caused to another under VTL §600(2)(a). Under that subsection, “leaving the scene of an incident without reporting.... other than for the mere failure of an operator to exhibit his or her license and insurance identification card for such vehicle or exchange the information required in such paragraph [(a) of Vehicle and Traffic Law §600(2)], shall constitute a class A misdemeanor...."

A second offense of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting when personal injury is caused under VTL §600(2)(a) can be charged as a class E felony. VTL §600(2)(c).


Leaving the Scene with Serious Personal Injury - "E" Felony

Leaving Scene of an Incident Without Reporting is an “E” Felony when “serious physical injury” was caused to another under VTL §600(2)(a) and (c). Under that subsection, “leaving the scene of an incident without reporting….other than for the mere failure of an operator to exhibit his or her license and insurance identification card for such vehicle or exchange the information required in such paragraph [(a) of Vehicle and Traffic Law §600(2)], shall constitute a class E felony…."

The term “serious physical injury” is defined as “impairment of a person’s physical conduction which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of functions of any bodily organ." The definition of “serious physical injury” is set out in Penal Law Section 10.00(10).

If the defendant left the scene after operated a motor vehicle knowing or having cause to know that “personal injury” was caused to another person, due to an incident involving the motor vehicle.

Although the term “personal injury” is not defined in the statute, New York law generally provides that “it is not necessary for the incident to have caused ‘physical injury,’ in the sense of ‘impairment of physical condition or substantial pain’ (Penal Law Section 10.00(9), but simply ‘personal injury.’” People v. Bogomolsky, 14 Misc 3d 26, 27 (App Term 2d Dept 2006).


Leaving the Scene with Death - "D" Felony

Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting is a "D" Felony when "death" was caused to another. Even the term "death" is defined under New York law. The definition provides that death is the "the irreversible cessation of heartbeat and respiration [or when these functions are maintained solely by extraordinary mechanical means, an irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem]."


Finding an Attorney for Leaving the Scene in Nassau County, NY

If you were accused of leaving the scene of an incident without report (also known as "hit-and-run") then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. Whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony, the penalties are serious. Anything you say will be used against. On the other hand, your attorney in Garden City, NY, is often in the best position to tell your side of the story and help you resolve the allegations for the best possible terms.

For cases hit-and-run cases throughout Long Island including Nassau and Suffolk County, contact Law Office of Stephanie Selloni to discuss your case. Call 516-972-1212 today.

Article last updated on Monday, June 1, 2015.