If your car crashes into another person’s car causing damage, and a person is in that vehicle at the time of the crash, then the law requires you to stop at the scene, provide certain information, and render aid to any injured person.
If you leave the scene without fulfilling these duties, then you can be charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 and 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. According to subsection (b) of section 3743, the charge of hit and run is a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Law enforcement agencies in Delaware County and Chester County have special procedures that they follow after a hit and run. In many case, the officers will try and track down the driver by going to their house or place of employment.
If you have already left the scene and a criminal investigation has begun, then you are not required to make a statement. Your best course of action is to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who can help you invoke your rights and work to resolve the case under the best possible terms.
What if I Didn’t Know About the Crash?
Although the statute does not contain a “mens rea” element explaining the driver’s state of mind, the court have imposed a requirement that the defendant must have “known or should have known” that he or she was involved in the accident. In Commonwealth v. Woosnam, 819 A.2d 1198 (Pa.Super. 2003), the Superior Court found that the trial court must give an instruction on the “known or should have known” element of the crime, even though the mens rea element is not found in the statutory language of section 3743.
The courts have also held that the scienter requirement must be proven through either direct proof or by circumstantial evidence from which knowledge could reasonably be inferred. If the court fails to properly instruct the jury on the knowledge requirement then that failure would be reversible error that would require a new trial.
If you were charged with hit and run resulting in damage to another vehicle or other property then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Skinner Law Firm represent clients charged with hit and run throughout Chester County including West Chester, PA. We also represent clients in the City of Chester, the borough of Media, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, PA.
Call us to discuss any criminal violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
Elements of Hit and Run under Section 3743
To prove the crime of accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property (often called “hit and run”) a violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code found in Section 3743, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was driving a vehicle that he or she knew or should have known was involved in an accident that resulted only in damage to a vehicle or other property that was driven or attended by any person; and
- The defendant violated two duties:
- the duty to stop and remain at the scene of the accident; and
- the duty to give information and render aid to the injured person.
The Duty to Stop after a Crash in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law provides that the driver has a duty to stop his or her vehicle immediately at the scene of the accident while obstructing traffic as little as possible, or as close to the scene as possible. The law also provides that the driver must remain at the scene until he or she performs the second duty which is to give information and render aid.
The driver’s duty to give information requires the driver to give the following information:
- registration number of the vehicle.
Additional information, such as driver’s license and proof of insurance must be presented if requested by any of the following:
- any police officer at the scene of the accident;
- the driver of any vehicle involved in the crash; or
- any police officer investigating the accident.
In the event that the driver or person attending to the driver is not in the condition to receive the information that the driver is required to give, then the driver must give the information to any police officer that is present.
If no police officer is present under those circumstances, then the driver must still do the following:
- stop and remain at the scene;
- provide information and render aid (as much as possible);
- report the accident to the nearest office of a duly authorized police department;
- submit to the department the information previously described pertaining to the duty to provide information.
The Pennsylvania Suggested Criminal Jury Instructions for Hit and Run Resulting in Damage to Vehicle or Property are found at 17.3743.
We Defend Against Hit and Run Charges
If you were arrested for a hit and run in Chester County including West Chester, or in the County of Delaware including the borough of Media, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. Call 610-436-1410 today to discuss your case and possible defenses to this third degree misdemeanor.
We represent clients charged with leaving the scene of a crash without fulfilling their duties to stop at the scene and provide information. If you were charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 or 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, or believe you might be, then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. We can begin your defense today.