In Texas, if you are involved in an accident that results in the injury or death of another, there are certain legal obligations you must meet before you can leave the scene. Failing to adhere to the duties could result in a felony charge, and under a new law, the penalties for this offense have increased.
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Lawful Duties After an Accident
Under Texas Transportation Code 550.021, if you’re in a traffic collision, even if you did not cause it, you must:
- Stop your vehicle at or near the scene
- Check to see if others were harmed
- Remain on-site until you fulfill your legal duties, which include:
- Providing your information to others involved
- Showing your driver’s license upon request
- Rendering reasonable assistance to anyone who was injured, which includes arranging transportation to their physician or hospital for treatment
If someone else was injured in the accident, and you leave before fulfilling your legal duties, you could face a third-degree felony charge. The level of the offense would increase to a second-degree felony if the accident resulted in death.
Penalties for this Offense
Although you could potentially spend up to 10 years in prison for a third-degree felony conviction, and up to 20 years for a second-degree, the judge ultimately determines the sentencing. In some cases, where a mandatory minimum isn’t set, you could be ordered to serve probation instead of being incarcerated. This happened recently when a Texas man was found guilty of a hit and run. He was sentenced to 6 years of probation and community service.
The family whose son died in the accident did not think the man’s term was fair, and took the matter to the state legislatures. Five years later, a bill was passed that created a mandatory minimum prison sentence for a person ordered to probation after being convicted of leaving the scene of an accident.
Under the new law, the punishments for a hit and run are equivalent to those of intoxication manslaughter. If you are convicted of failing to remain at the scene of an accident that resulted in death, and the judge orders probation, you must also serve a minimum of 120 days in prison.
Reach Out to The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. for Legal Representation
If you were charged with a criminal offense, discuss your case with our attorneys as soon as possible. With over 30 years of legal experience, and time served as a prosecutor, we know there are two sides to every story, and various defenses can be brought up to fight charges. We will build an innovative strategy for your case and work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.
Speak with our team during a free consultation by calling us at (979) 773-7028 or contacting us online.