26-year-old (name withheld for privacy), a first-year law student at UC Hastings in San Francisco, got her first real-life law lesson this weekend when she attempted to catch a group of alleged graffiti artists whom she had confronted earlier in the evening. A few hours after she was accosted, she believed she saw the same group waling near 14th and Lakeside, began to move toward them quickly with her vehicle (a 1984 Mercedes-Benz), and instead ran straight into a 25-year-old man, who was crossing the Oakland street. She then fled the scene and was eventually waylaid by concerned witnesses. The victim was sent to the hospital with severe wounds to the head.
In the state of California, both hit-and-run charges and assault with a deadly weapon (commonly referred to as an “ADW”) are ‘wobblers,’ meaning that the prosecution determines whether to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. She faces two felony charges, one for the hit-and-run (CA Vehicle Code 20001) and the other for assault with a deadly weapon (CA Penal Code 245a(1)). Penalties for a felony hit-and-run charge are severe with a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in state prison. She will likely also face sentencing enhancements of 2-4 years as the victim was seriously injured. As far as the ADW charge is concerned, she may end up paying an additional fine of up to $10,000, 2-4 years in state prison, and possible victim restitution. Although accounts of the incident are varied, a further complication may be that she is believed to have been under the influence when she accidentally struck the victim.