In the early hours of Sunday morning, a man was hit as he was attempting to cross, on foot, Interstate 580 near 150th Avenue. The car, reportedly a ‘white vehicle,’ did not stop to call emergency personnel or to see whether the victim was still alive. By the time law enforcement agents with the California Highway Patrol arrived on the scene, the man’s body had been blocking eastbound traffic for about 10 minutes; ostensibly, other drivers called in the incident. When the individual responsible for the incident is found, they will face charges of felony hit-and-run.
In the state of California, any hit-and-run involving either death or serious injury is considered to be a felony (CA Vehicle Code 20001). Any person, after being involved in such an occurrence, who then leaves the scene without speaking to emergency medical personnel and to the police, may be charged with a hit-and-run. Normally, these cases are treated as misdemeanors, unless of course, the accident caused another person to be seriously injured or killed.
Technically, ‘felony’ hit-and-run charge is, in reality, a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that prosecutors determine whether or not misdemeanor or felony charges will be pursued once they have all the facts of the case. A misdemeanor hit-and-run charge, under this rubric, could result in a $10,000 fine and up to 1 year in county jail. Penalties for a felony level hit-and-run, however, are harsh. If convicted, the person involved in Sunday morning’s death could face up to $10,000 in fines and up to 4 years in state prison.