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If you have been arrested by officers under the suspicion of having violated a criminal offense, chances are you may be charged. This is not always the case. Oftentimes a person may be arrested, but upon review of the evidence and facts, prosecutors choose not to file formal charges.

In certain situations however, not only do prosecutors determine that there is sufficient evidence to file charges against a person, they find that several charges are appropriate. This happens often in Los Angeles Hit and Runs and Los Angeles DUIs. A person who has been charged may also be simultaneously charged with additional offenses such as insurance fraud, probation violation, or even a failure to appear. If you are being charged with several offenses, it is important to remember that each charge is its own case. They may be consolidated, but you must address and argue each individual case.

As with each criminal charge, there are available defenses and arguments. A case must be prepared and defended separately in court.

If you have made the decision to hire a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you on the criminal charges against you, you have made the best decision for your future. A Criminal Lawyer has extensive experience and knowledge with the court system and with the prosecutors working on your case. This makes the whole process efficient, and stress free.

If you have an attorney representing you in Court, and you are being charged with a misdemeanor, you do not have to be present in Court. Your attorney can appear on your behalf. The first appearance in Court is called the Arraignment. As stated, you do not need to appear at the Arraignment if you have an attorney representing you. If you do not have an attorney representing you, you will need to appear in Court to defend yourself. If you do not appear timely, then a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. You will then not only face the charges you were called into Court for, but will also have to defend yourself against the bench warrant and Failure to Appear charges.

Your attorney will talk to you in depth regarding what will happen at your Arraignment, whether you choose to appear or not. If you have any questions, it is a good idea to speak to your attorney about your questions so that you fully understand the process.

If you have received a letter or a call from the police department asking to speak to you about a Los Angeles Hit and Run, you have not been arrested. If you have received a citation asking you to appear in Court, then you have been charged, but are not convicted. You can only be convicted in one of two ways, if you plead guilty in the Court of law, or if you are found guilty by a jury.

With a Los Angeles Hit and Run, unlike many other charges, there are ways to strengthen your chances of avoiding a charge, if you take the right steps immediately.

  1. Consult with a Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyer

A Hit and Run does not always lead to an immediate arrest. Oftentimes, you receive a letter from the police department, a phone call ,or even a personal visit. This does not mean you have been charged with a Hit and Run, it just means that the police have launched an investigation into a case of Hit and Run. Just because you have not been charged however, do not mean you should not seek the help of a Los Angeles Hit and Run lawyer, even during the investigation phase.

If you have been officially and formally arrested for a Hit and Run, it may not lead to any time in custody. You can be charged and be given a notice to appear in Court at the arraignment date. This is not an optional court appearance, or one you can make by mailing in a notice. If you do not appear in Court on or before the day you are required to appear, you could be arrested for contempt of court and/or failure to appear.

Just as the officers will do their investigation in a Los Angeles Hit and Run case it is very important that you do your research and investigate the facts as well after you have been arrested. This includes reviewing the site of the accident, to speak to any injured parties or owners of property that has been damaged and reviewing claims made by witnesses. This is extremely crucial to your case. Unlike other criminal offenses, dealing with the facts early on in a Hit and Run case, as well as beginning early preparation of defenses and argument can often avoid a charge altogether.

If you have committed a Hit and Run, there are several ways the police department will contact you. A Hit and Run is a vehicle code violation under VC §20002 and 20003. In order to have committed a Hit and Run, you must have caused damage to property or injury to person, and fled the scene without leaving information. Just because you are contacted by the police department regarding a potential Hit and Run, it does not mean you are guilty, or have been charged. That will be determined thereafter.

Officers may contact you in one of three ways. The method is unique to each county and to each department. There are no uniform code sections or authority that require one specific method be used.

  1. Letter

Often times when a person has committed a Hit and Run, they are afraid of the consequences. They tend to panic and make irrational choices that can get them into additional trouble. One of the most common things a person does that gets them into unnecessary trouble is to file a false statement to their insurance company.

California Penal Code §550 makes it unlawful “to do any of the following, or to aid, abet, solicit, or conspire with any person to do any of the following: (1) Knowingly present or cause to be presented any false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss or injury, including payment of a loss or injury under a contract of insurance.”

In an effort to avoid a Hit and Run charge, many people will file false claims with their insurance companies stating that their car has been stolen. What they do not realize is that in an effort to try to avoid a Hit and Run charge, they may be facing additional charges for making fraudulent claims to an insurance company.

There is a significant difference between offenses that are charged as Misdemeanors and those that are filed as Felonies. Misdemeanors generally have lower sentences and consequences, and do not emphasize a seriousness that felonies carry with them. Felonies almost always require imprisonment of some sort, and higher consequences. Felonies also mean that there was extensive injury or damage which gave rise to the charge.

Many times a code section under which the criminal charge arises will specify whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes it can be charged as either, and the ultimate charge will be determined by Prosecutors.

Let’s consider some examples of both. California Penal Code §550 makes it unlawful for a person to knowingly present or cause to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss or injury, including payment of a loss or injury under a contract of insurance. In addition, under the same code section it is unlawful for a person to make a statement that is intended to be presented to any insurer or insurance claimant in connection with or in opposition of any claim for payment or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy, knowing that the statement contains false or misleading information.

If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, it will be listed as one of three different categories: infraction, misdemeanor or felony. Each level has different consequences and means something different if it remains on your record.

  1. Infractions

Infractions are the lowest level of criminal offenses. This class includes traffic tickets, and small offenses such as littering or jaywalking. Because it is the lowest level of criminal offenses, the potential consequences are low as well. A person who has been found guilty of an infraction will likely just pay a fine. They will not  be required to report it on applications and it will not show up on background searches.

If a person has been arrested for suspicion of a Los Angeles Hit and Run, they may be charged under one of two different vehicle codes: California Vehicle Code §20002 or California Vehicle code §20003. One section deals with damage to property, and one injury to person. Each requires its own set of requirements by a person who has caused damage or injury.If a person has not taken the steps as dictated under each statute, they may be charged with a Hit and Run and tried in Court.

California Vehicle Code §20002 requires a “driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident. The person must also give the following information to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident:

1.       Give his or her name, current residence address, the names and current residence addresses of any occupant of the driver’s vehicle injured in the accident

If you have been arrested for a Hit and Run, you could be charged under one of two statutes: California Vehicle Code §20002, and California Vehicle Code §20003. California Vehicle Code §20002 refers to cases in which there is damage to property, and California Vehicle Code §20003 refers to cases in which there is an injury to person.

Each statute outlines a range of potential consequences. It will not give a specific consequence because the sentence will depend on several factors. The court will take into consideration the person’s criminal background and the facts of the case. They will also consider the extent of the damage or injuries.

Under California Vehicle Code §20002, when there is damage to property, a person who is found guilty will be charged of a misdemeanor, and may be punished by imprisonment in county jail up to six months and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.00.