Toms River NJ Leaving the Scene of an Accident Lawyer
N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5. Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death
After a serious accident, we can lose our nerve in the heat of the moment and make a monumental mistake. Sometimes, the easiest decision is to leave the scene and hope no one finds out. However, whatever the reason for fleeing, you may have just brought on serious criminal charges. If you or someone you love were involved in an accident that result in serious injury or even death, the repercussions may be severe. Even if you were unaware that anyone killed, the State may file second degree felony charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1. If convicted, you face up to 10 years in a New Jersey State Penitentiary on this charge alone! If you or someone you love have been arrested or are being sought under warrant for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in death, call the Ocean County criminal defense attorneys today at 848-238-2100.
Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident Charges in NJ
“A motor vehicle operator who knows that he is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident shall be guilty of a crime if the accident results in the death of another person.” This is the statutory language which exists N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, but what does it mean?
In order for a judge or jury to convict a defendant of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, the Ocean County Prosecutor must demonstrate the following 5 things:
That the defendant was operating a motor vehicle;
That the defendant was involved in an accident while operating that motor vehicle;
That the defendant knew that he/she was involved in an accident;
That the defendant knowingly left the scene of that accident under circumstances that violated the provisions of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code [N.J.S.A. 39:4-129] (State v. Fisher, 395 N.J. Super. 533, 541 (App. Div. 2007) ; and
That the accident resulted in the death of another person.
What Qualifies as a Motor Vehicle?
The first element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle includes all vehicles propelled otherwise than by muscular power, except such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks and motorized bicycles.
What if I Didn’t Know I Was Involved in an Accident?
The third element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the Defendant knew that he or she was involved in an accident. But what does it mean to “know” you were involved in an accident? In New Jersey, a person acts “knowingly” when he/she is “aware that it is practically certain that his/her conduct will cause bodily injury”. Under State v. Sene, a person acts knowingly with respect to the nature of his/her conduct or the attendant circumstances if he/she is aware that his/her conduct is of that nature, or that such circumstances exist, or he/she is aware of the high probability of their existence. In other words, a person knows that he/she was involved in an accident if he/she is aware that he/she was involved in an accident or is aware of a probability that he/she was involved in an accident. To convict you, the court doesn’t need you to admit you were aware of the accident, they can come to the conclusion that the facts show you were aware that an accident occurred.
How Long Must I Stay at the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, a motorists involved in an accident must do the following:
Immediately stop his/her vehicle at the scene of the accident; or
Immediately stop his/her vehicle as close to the scene of the accident as possible and return to the scene of the accident; or
Report all necessary information to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner.
Failure to fulfill these obligations is a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129 and may subject you to further prosecution under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1.
Will I Go to Jail for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death in Jackson, NJ?
If you are charged with and either plead guilty or are found guilty of the second degree felony crime for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, you will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment between 5 and 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000.00. Of further concern is the fact that a charges for leaving the scene of an accident involving death may also give rise to manslaughter or aggravated manslaughter charges. These jail terms must run consecutive (meaning one after the other) to the charge for leaving the scene of an accident. This means you may face up to 30 years in a State Prison when it is all said and done.
Point Pleasant NJ Leaving the Scene of an Accident Attorneys
If you are scared, nervous or confused because you have been involved in an accident and do not know what to do, call the Ocean County criminal defense firm at 848-238-2100. Our law office is well-equipped to represent you in your criminal case. If the Prosecutor has filed a motion for Pretrial Detention, let us know and we work to oppose any Pretrial Detention and argue on your behalf at your Detention Hearing. Don’t hesitate with your future at stake.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.