One of the most frowned upon cases in the eye of the public includes leaving the scene of a fatal car accident when you were at fault. Even if you never intended to hit anyone, this is still a serious crime and carries with it steep consequences. As a driver, it is your responsibility to be aware of what’s going on at all times.
Driving is an area where looking down for a moment to check your cell phone or calm down a crying baby can mean the difference between life and death for an unsuspecting pedestrian. But what if you were involved in an accident, but never actually hit the pedestrian with your car? A new case coming out of the NJ appeals court digs deeper into this complicated law.
According to the ruling in the case of State v. Sene, judges ruled that it is not required for a car to have struck a pedestrian for the driver to be convicted for leaving the scene of the crime, if the driver can have the reasonable belief that they were involved in the accident.
In this particular case, a pedestrian was run over by a Jitney bus in Atlantic City, and killed. The defendant in the case was driving a cab the same direction as the bus, and left the scene. He then parked around the corner, returned to the scene, but did not speak to anyone and eventually left again. Later security footage revealed the cab to have been involved in the accident and the defendant was identified.
The driver in the case was eventually convicted for leaving the scene of the crime, which resulted in a sentence of five years in prison and $5,000 in restitution. The defendant appealed, saying that his car never made contact with the victim. However, in appeals it was found that his argument was not valid under the law because the accident did involve a fatality and his cab was in some way involved in the accident.
Because he had seen the crime and knew that the pedestrian had died, he was obligated to stay at the scene and answer police questioning and provide his testimony. Even though he did not hit the pedestrian, he was still guilty of leaving the scene and the sentencing stood. This case is just another reminder of the extreme importance of remaining vigilant at all times when driving, and that the mere fact of operating a motor vehicle gives us both power and responsibility over the lives of others in our vicinity.
If you have been accused or charged with leaving the scene of a crime, especially in a less common type of situation such as the one above, it is vitally important that you seek immediate professional legal assistance. For a free consultation about the services I provide, contact me, David C. Barry today at 732-238-8686 today to learn more about my proven track record and extensive experience at providing top-notch care for my clients.