2C:12-1.1 The Criminal Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey
- Up to 5 Years in Jail even for first time offenders
- May be Charged along with Aggravated Assault
- May be Charged with Assault by Auto
- May be Charged with Death by Auto
- Loss of Drivers License
- Fines and Probation once released as determined by the judge
The Penalties for loss of license or Jail time can apply even for a first offense!
The Criminal charge for leaving the scene of an accident in NJ (2C:12-1.1) is an extremely serious crime. Thus, you must choose the best lawyer if you want to get the best result. Your defense doesn't just depend on the facts of your case but the presentation of the case to make the jury or judge understand those facts. Attorney Aalsberg has handled thousands of cases, and has the experience and know how to get you the best possible result even if you are guilty. Under NJ Law, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in either damage of $250.00 or more, a serious injury to any person, or death of another person is presumed to have knowledge that he/she was involved in an accident. Thus, knowledge of the accident will and generally can be presumed by the court, even if you really didn't know that you were involved in an accident. You will be required to prove this lack of knowledge. Don't risk your freedom or, go to jail without a fight. The sooner we get started on your defense, the more Attorney Aalsberg can do to help you win your case!
Attorney H. Scott Aalsberg, Esq., is Ranked Nationally as one of the Top Ten Criminal Defense Attorneys
by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and is Ranked one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers, If you want to win your charge you need the best lawyer. Put Attorney H. Scott Aalsberg, Esq., success rate to work for you.
Understanding the Law
New Jersey has both a motor vehicle charge known as leaving the scene of an accident and a criminal offense by the same name. The motor offense is charged as a common ticket. The criminal charge is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1. and generally starts as criminal complaint (aka green sheet) but can start as a ticket if the police are not aware of the extent of any victims injury and can them be upgraded to the criminal charge. The criminal offense is an indictable charge with up to 5 years in jail and is generally applied if death or serious injury is involved when someone leaves the scene of an accident. The Traffic Ticket Offense for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey has a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail. This page here is for information on the criminal offense of leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey 2C:12-1.1 for information on the traffic ticket offense 39:4-129 click here. Therefore, below please find the law on the Criminal Charge:
Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In New Jersey The Criminal Charge:
2C:12-1.1 Is the Criminal Charge for Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and is written as follows:
A motor vehicle operator who knows he is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident under circumstances that violate the provisions of R.S. 39:4-129 shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree if the accident results in serious bodily injury to another person. The presumption against imprisonment set forth in N.J.S. 2C:44-1.1 shall not apply to persons convicted under the provisions of this section. Nothing in this shall be deemed to preclude an indictment and conviction for aggravated assault or assault by auto under the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:12-1.1. Nor shall a leaving the scene of an accident charge in New Jersey merge with a conviction for aggravated assault or assault by auto under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:12-1 and a separate sentence shall be imposed upon each conviction.
Whenever in the case of such multiple convictions the court imposes multiple sentences of imprisonment for more than one offense, those sentences shall run consecutively. Neither knowledge of the serious bodily injury nor knowledge of the violation are elements of the offense and it shall not be a defense that the driver of the motor vehicle was unaware of the serious bodily injury or provisions of 39:4-129. However this is distinguished by the case of State v. Rashaun Bell a 2022 case in which the court ruled N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1 applies to the act of fleeing from the scene of an accident. The number of fatalities or injuries that may result from the accident is not an element of the offense and thus only one count of the offense may be charged per accident, regardless of the number of victims.
Thus, A hit and run accident which results in death or serious bodily injury is a crime on its own and can be charged with other crimes/charges such as assault by auto or aggravated assault, which can be charged at the same time as a leaving the scene of an accident charge. Furthermore, The presumption of non-imprisonment shall not apply to persons convicted under the provisions of this section and thus the offender is subject to the full 3 to 5 year jail time sentence, even if the offender is a first time criminal offender and has no prior criminal record.
Legal Review of the Law
In New Jersey proving a criminal charge for knowingly leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey with serious personal injury can be complicated and the criminal defense lawyers at our firm will make sure the prosecution is challenged in establishing each and every element of the offense. The main difference between the ticket and criminal charge is merely an injury to another person and that injury must be serious in nature. In both cases you will lose your drivers license and you can go to jail. The following is a discussion of major issues arising in these types of cases:
A. Proving a Motor Vehicle Violation for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey
A prerequisite to establishing a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1 is proof that the suspect violated N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. It must be shown that the suspect failed to remain at the scene after being involved in an accident. The obligation to exchange information and credentials as required under the motor vehicle statute would also have to be violated in order for a criminal indictment under this statute to be sustainable. Thus, the state must prove the same issues in both the ticket and criminal charge for leaving the scene of an accident.
B. The Accident Must Involve Serious Bodily Injury or Death
A charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1 is only viable where someone sustained "serious bodily injury". The New Jersey criminal code defines "serious bodily injury" as an injury involving a substantial risk of death or resulting in serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.
C. Criminal Responsibility for Leaving the Scene of an Accident - Proof of Defendants Knowledge Needed
Note: the motor vehicle pedigree of the law for leaving the scene of an accident in NJ only requires knowledge on the part of the suspect that he was involved in an accident which can be presumed if damage to any vehicle is over $250.00. In the criminal charge the standard is different. In a criminal charge for leaving the scene of an accident the law requires that the state prove that the driver should have had a "reasonable belief that he or she was involved in an accident" to prove a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Reasonable belief is generally defined as what the driver knew or should have known. Thus, in a recent case a court ruled even where no proof of contact between the drivers car and a pedestrian may have occurred the driver may still be charged and convicted of leaving the scene of an accident. However, the state must still prove that in a criminal violation for leaving the scene of an accident that the defendant knowingly left the scene.
D. Merger and Sentencing - No Presumption Against Incarceration Applies to Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charges
In NJ neither aggravated assault nor assault by auto are lesser included offenses of knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving serious personal injury. Accordingly, a conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1 does not merge into either of the aforesaid offenses and an individual could therefore be arrested, indicted and convicted of two of these charges although they arise out of a single accident. In terms of grading, an individual may be charged with a Third Degree Crime or Fourth Degree Crime under the statute. The presumption of non-incarceration which would otherwise apply under the New Jersey criminal code for a Third Degree, Fourth Degree or Municipal Court charge does not apply to leaving the scene of an accident violations.
E. Immigration Consequences for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charge in NJ
If you are an immigrant to this country a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident could cause you to be deported or your status not renewed, if your matter involves bodily injury to another and you serve more than 6 months or more in jail. This conviction could effect your status even if you are a green card holder or a citizen for less than 1 year, thus the need for skilled representation to make sure that you get the best result for your charge.
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** Additional penalties and jail time may apply in New Jersey Leaving the scene of the accident cases when the defendant is charged with a violation of R.S. 39:4-50 (DWI) and/or if violation occurs within 1000 feet of school property or school crossing zone or safe corridor zone. H. Scott Aalsberg, Esq., P.C. Main office address: G-10 Brier Hill Court, East Brunswick, N.J. 08816. Please consult our New Jersey Criminal and Traffic Ticket Lawyers for complete details on all fines and penalties as the penalties listed in this notice are for informational purposes on offenses we have handled and reduced in the past. Past performance is not indicative of future performance and each case is fact sensitive, thus, the need for the in office consultation for the attorney to evaluate your NJ leaving the scene of an accident case. Some leaving the scene of an accident penalties may not apply to people living outside of the state of New Jersey, please consult an attorney in your state of residence. Copyright 2021 GetNotGulty.com
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