On Friday, a good samaritan was assisting someone push a broken down car out of the road near the 2200 block of International Boulevard when a driver hit the man, killing him. The man driving the second vehicle drove away from the scene; local law enforcement officials caught up with him later that day and charged him with a felony hit and run (CA Vehicle Code 20001).
Even a felony hit and run charge is a ‘wobbler’ in the state of California. The prosecutor must determine whether or not to try a specific case as a felony or as a misdemeanor. They may even decide to charge an individual with both misdemeanor and felony charges, hoping to be able to prove one if they cannot prove the other. Several factors are at work when prosecutors make this determination.
The most important of these factors is intent. If a prosecutor wishes to prove that a person has been involved in a hit and run, they must be able to show several different things. First, it must be proven that you were present when the accident occurred, that it was not someone else using your vehicle or a case of mistaken identity. Second, they must be able to prove that you reasonably should have known about the accident and about its potential or actual effects. Third, they must prove that you intended, purposefully, to continue driving on and not to stop.