Leaving accident scene cases in New Jersey can be either a traffic offense or a criminal charge.
Everything depends on whether someone was injured in the accident.
For example, if you got into a minor fender-bender and drove away (for whatever reason), then you’re probably facing a traffic violation under N.J.S.A. 39:4 -129.
Now, if you were involved in leaving accident scene because you drove off after realizing that someone suffered serious bodily injury, then you’re facing a 3rd-degree felony.
We’ve broken it down for you here but if you want the complete law, you can find it at the bottom of this page.
Leaving Accident Scene basics – If there is serious bodily injury, a person leaving the scene of an accident could be charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1, “Knowingly leaving the scene of motor vehicle accident resulting in serious bodily injury”.
“Serious Bodily Injury” is defined as a bodily injury which:
Jail is a strong possibility.
In New Jersey, third-degree felonies have what is called a “Presumption of Non-Incarceration.”
This means that if convicted, the judge does not consider prison time as the first alternative for sentencing.
The judge will consider other alternatives like probation.
However, the presumption of non-imprisonment does not apply under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1.
If you are convicted of leaving the scene after causing someone serious injury you be sentenced to prison.
It does not matter that you do not have a prior criminal record.
Can I be charged with leaving accident scene and assault by auto?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
The law says that being charged with one crime does not prevent being charged with the other crime.
Being sentenced on one charge does not prevent being sentenced on the other charge.
For example, you cannot say “The only reason I left the scene of the accident was because I was unaware that someone got hurt. If I had known this, I would’ve stayed at the scene.”
The law in NJ states that if you are involved in a car accident, you must stop your vehicle and call the police or 911.
This means that you have to wait for the police to arrive.
In New Jersey, knowingly leaving accident scene resulting in serious bodily injury is a third-degree crime.
As a third-degree crime, the state has five years to file a complaint against the driver who left the scene.
The time limit to file a complaint is called a “statute of limitations.”
An officer who responds to the scene of an accident will look at many details to determine who caused the accident and who left the scene.
Most times drivers who flee the scene are ultimately identified.
As part of their investigation, detectives look at:
You should contact us.
As New Jersey traffic and criminal defense lawyers, we are familiar with the law.
We know how to analyze the facts of your case, and determine your best defenses.
Leaving accident scene cases are extremely complicated.
Knowingly leaving the scene of motor vehicle accident resulting in serious bodily injury, third-degree crime.
A motor vehicle operator who knows he is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident under circumstances that violate the provisions of R.S.39:4-129 shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree if the accident results in serious bodily injury to another person.
The presumption of non-imprisonment outlined in N.J.S.2C:44-1 shall not apply to persons convicted under the provisions of this section.
If the evidence so warrants, nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude an indictment and conviction for aggravated assault or assault by auto under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:12-1.
Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provisions of law, a conviction arising under this section shall not merge with a conviction for aggravated assault or assault by auto under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:12-1 and a separate sentence shall be imposed upon each conviction.
Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:44-5 or any other provisions of law, whenever in the case of such multiple convictions the court imposes multiple sentences of imprisonment for more than one offense, those sentences shall run consecutively.
For this section, neither knowledge of the serious bodily injury nor knowledge of the violation are elements of the offense and it shall not be a defense that the driver of the motor vehicle was unaware of the serious bodily injury or provisions of R.S.39:4-129.
You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.
Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey complex as well as nearby cities. The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.
Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.
If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.
There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.
The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.
We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars.
When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.
a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.
***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.
Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.
When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.
A mere “hunch” is not enough.
In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.
b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.
c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions