California Vehicle Code §§ 20001 and 20002 define the elements of a California Hit and Run. Both require different elements, and invoke a range of different penalties for those that are convicted under either statute.
California Vehicle Code §20001 outlines Felony hit and run, and California Vehicle Code §20002 outlines misdemeanor hit and run. The major different between the two is who or what the damage was done to.
A hit and run is generally defined as when a driver causes damage to someone's vehicle, property or person and abandons the scene without providing adequate contact information. When the damage is to another's vehicle or property, such as a fence or a house, then it will be charged as a misdemeanor.
For example, Danny is driving home and loses focus on the road for a second and crashes into the fence in a person's front yard. No one appears to be home and no one has seen Danny drive into the fence. He then drives away without leaving a note or informing the property owners of his contact information in order to make amends and pay for damages.
In this situation, Danny will be charged with a Hit and Run, and likely charged unless he can demonstrate he made a good faith ability to leave his information. If convicted, Danny could face up to six months in county jail, and up to $1,000.00 in fines, or both. Additionally, Danny will be put on probation for up to three years.
In comparison, a hit and run will be charged as a felony if the damage is injury to a person, without stopping to help the injured person receive immediate medical attention and providing the person with all necessary contact information.
Let's consider the previous example. Danny is driving home and loses focus on the road for just a minute. At the same time Vicki is out taking a jog. Danny looks away and runs right into Vicki causing her to break her legs. Afraid that he will get charged with assault, and afraid he will have to pay restitution he cannot afford, Danny drives off and leaves Vicki in the middle of the street.
Danny will be charged with felony hit and run, unless he can demonstrate that he stopped and helped Vicki as well as provided her with his contact information. If convicted, Danny could face up to one year in county jail, sixteen months to 3 years in State prison, and/or a fine between $1,000.00 to $10,000.00. Danny will also be put on supervised probation.
The difference between a felony and misdemeanor hit and run is a big one. It can make the difference between jail time and an immense amount in fines. An experienced San Diego hit and run lawyer has handled thousands of similar cases and will fight hard for your case to be reduced as low as possible.