Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Incident

In the State of New York, if a person is in a car accident, he or she is required to stay at the scene of the accident in order to, among other things, share insurance and other information with the other person involved. If you do not stay at the scene, the consequences are much more than insurance cost increases or responsibility for any medical bills or property damage. You can face very serious criminal charges under the New York Penal Law and Vehicle and Traffic Law. The relative severity of those charges will depend in large part on the circumstances and facts of the accident itself. Whether you are issued a pink summons in New York City, a white Desk Appearance Ticket or you are arrested and processed moments after “fleeing,” it is imperative to prepare your defense, identify witnesses or mitigating factors, and consult with your criminal lawyer as soon as you are able.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident, found under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) Section 600, is referred to generically as “Leaving Scene of an Incident Without Reporting.” This section is broken down into two primary categories of accidents that your criminal defense attorney can both examine and explain including the difference in potential punishment and consequences of these two categories.

Leaving the Scene: Property Damage

The first is leaving the scene of an accident where there was property damage only, under New York VTL 600(1)(a). A person may be arrested, charged and convicted under this law if they were in an accident, the person knew or had reason to know that damage had been caused to the property of another person, such as damage to their vehicle, and that person fails to stop, show their license and insurance card, give their real name and address, or report that same information to the nearest police station if the owner of the property is not there, such as an accident involving a parked car. Unlike other sections of this law, VTL 600(1) is not a crime, but a traffic infraction. Therefore, a conviction will not give you a criminal record, but it is still punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 15 days in jail.

Leaving the Scene: Personal Injury

The second category is leaving the scene of an accident in which a person is injured under New York VTL 600(2)(a) and is significantly more serious with life altering penalties. The basis for a VTL 600(2)(a) arrest, charge and conviction is where you knew or had reason to know that personal injury to another person resulted from the accident, and you did not stop, show your driver's license and insurance card, give your real name and address, and report the incident to a police officer or the nearest police station. Unlike VTL 600(1), a conviction of this law is a crime, and will give you a criminal record. It is classified as a B misdemeanor if it is solely based on failing to provide the required information, which is punishable by a fine of $250 to $500 and/or a sentence of up to 90 days in jail. A second conviction for failing to provide information can be elevated to an A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 1 year in jail. If the first time violation is based on something other than failing to provide information, such as not stopping and staying at the scene, it is an A misdemeanor even if it is a first offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 1 year in jail.

Critically, if a charge of VTL 600(2)(a) is based on failing to stop and take all of the required steps, and the person who was injured suffered “serious injury,” this crime can be elevated even further to an E felony punishable by a fine of $1000 to $5000 and even up to 4 years in state prison. If the accident resulted in another person's death, it can be elevated further to a D felony punishable by a fine of $2000 to $5000 and up to 7 years in state prison.

Leaving the scene of an accident is no trivial allegation. The consequences can be severe and last the rest of your life in the case of a criminal conviction. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC represent clients in VTL cases and Leaving the Scene of an Accident cases throughout the New York City and Hudson Valley region, including Rockland County, Westchester County, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.

Call the New York Leaving the Scene of an Incident Lawyers at Crotty Saland PC at 212.312.7129 or Contact Us Online to Start Your Criminal Defense Now.

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