In California, law enforcement officials take hit-and-run charges very seriously. Just ask 25-year-old driver (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), who stole a minivan, crashed into a taxi cab during a police chase, and injured at least 6 people in the process. He is now facing 10 felony charges, ranging from 6 hit-and-run charges (one for each person he hit), 1 charge of falsification of a license plate, 1 grand theft auto charge, and 2 charges for reckless driving.
Any one of the above crimes could be considered a felony according to California law. Falsifying a license plate, sticker, or vehicle registration falls under California Vehicle Code 4463. According to this provision, even interfering with a license plate (it is assumed that he removed it from the stolen van) is considered fraud. It is a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that you may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your particular situation. On this felony charge alone, he could face up to 3 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
The state of California has made hit-and-run charges a felony. If there has been an injury or death involved during the commission of this crime (CA Vehicle Code 20001). If convicted on a felony hit-and-run charge, he could face up to 3 years in a California state prison for each count and another $10,000 fine. A grand theft auto conviction (CA Penal Code 487(d)(1) and CA Vehicle Code 10851) also a ‘wobbler,’ could mean that he may spend up to another 3 years in state prison. This means that if he is convicted on all counts that he has been charged with, he could end up spending approximately 24 years (or more) in state prison and tens of thousands of dollars before he is eventually released.