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Hit-and-Run Laws in Massachusetts

Posted on May 1, 2022 in

Leaving the scene of a car accident without fulfilling your responsibilities as a driver is against the law in Massachusetts. This is referred to informally as a hit-and-run, and it can carry severe criminal consequences. Like most states, Massachusetts penalizes hit-and-run crimes harshly to send a message to others in the community. If you’ve been charged with a hit-and-run crime, protect yourself by hiring a motor vehicle crimes defense lawyer right away.

What Is a Hit-and-Run in Massachusetts?

Under Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 90 Section 24(2)(a), it is a crime to fail to stop and provide the required information after knowingly colliding with or otherwise injuring someone else. This is colloquially known as a hit-and-run crime. The required information that a driver must provide after an accident under Commonwealth law is:

  • The driver’s full name.
  • The address of the driver’s residence.
  • The registration number of the driver’s motor vehicle.

This information is meant to identify the driver so that the injured victim can hold him or her financially responsible for the wreck, if applicable. A driver should also render aid to anyone injured in a car accident, such as by calling the police or taking the victim to the nearest hospital.

What Are the Penalties for a Hit-and-Run?

It is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing a hit-and-run charge. This is a serious crime that can come with life-changing consequences, such as a mandatory minimum jail or prison sentence. According to MGL c. 90 s. 24(a.5)(1), a hit-and-run crime comes with the following potential penalties:

  • Imprisonment for not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years.
  • A fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000, plus surcharges.
  • A minimum of 60 days and a maximum of 1 year of driver’s license suspension.

These penalties change according to the severity of the damage, injury or harm caused by the crime, such as if a driver left the scene of property damage only compared to personal injury. If the hit-and-run accident results in the death of a person, for example, the penalties increase to 1.5 to 10 years in prison and $1,000 to $5,000 in fines. You should contact a defense lawyer if you are facing allegations of leaving the scene of any type of car accident in Massachusetts.

What Must Be Proven in a Hit-and-Run Case?

In criminal law, the burden of proof rests with the prosecutor. To achieve a guilty verdict during a hit-and-run case in Massachusetts, the prosecution must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle.
  2. The defendant operated it on a public road or in a place where members of the public have access.
  3. The defendant knowingly collided with or injured another person.
  4. The defendant did not stop to give his or her name, home address and vehicle registration number after the collision or injury.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest evidentiary standard in the justice system. If any of these elements are not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury cannot return a guilty verdict.

What Are Possible Defenses to a Hit-and-Run Charge?

An experienced hit-and-run criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts can create the strongest possible defense on your behalf. Your lawyer may be able to cut a deal for less jail time than the minimum, for example, or no jail time at all. Your lawyer could also rely on multiple defense strategies to fight for case acquittal, such as:

  • Wrong defendant
  • You were not driving the vehicle
  • No knowledge of the accident or collision
  • Police misconduct
  • Civil rights violations

Working with the right defense lawyer could save you from the most severe possible penalties for a hit-and-run crime. To speak to a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts about your recent arrest or charges, contact Spring & Spring 24/7.