Hit and Run Lawyer / Leaving the Scene
According to Ohio law, every individual is required to stop after an accident on public roads or highways. Failure to do this act is commonly known as hit and run or leaving the scene. A person who does not stop after an accident in Ohio can be charged with a criminal offense. Depending on whether death or bodily injury occurs from the accident, an individual can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense if they fail to stop their vehicle after an accident.
If you are being investigated or have been arrested on charges involving a hit and run offense in Columbus, Ohio, you face the risk of criminal charges, jail time, fines, and driver’s license suspension. You should strongly consider hiring a lawyer with experience handling a “leaving the scene” offense so that they can protect your rights.
Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm has handled more than 20,000 cases and has ample experience with Columbus traffic violations and other crimes. Our award-winning criminal defense attorneys have earned a solid reputation for protecting the rights of people charged with crimes throughout Franklin County and surrounding counties—even the media seek out our expertise when covering topics related to criminal law.
Columbus Hit and Run Criminal Defense Lawyer
With awards that include being named a “Top Lawyer” by Columbus CEO magazine and a “Rising Star” by the prestigious Super Lawyers, Brian Joslyn fights to achieve the best outcome for those accused of hit and run offenses in Columbus.
Ohio courts and prosecutors take hit and run offenses very seriously, and they will come down hard on a person accused of this crime in the interest of protecting society. Brian Joslyn uses his deep knowledge of the local courts, judges, prosecutors, and staff to deftly navigate what could otherwise be a daunting judicial process.
Brian Joslyn’s exceptional legal mind has placed him among the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He will use his skills and savvy to investigate the charges against you and devise a defense aimed at achieving the best outcome for you.
It is imperative to hire a knowledgeable traffic violation defense attorney to represent your best interests in any degree of a hit and run offense. A conviction for leaving the scene of an accident can result in severe penalties and consequences, including jail or prison sentences, fines, a criminal record and/or a driver’s license suspension.
Call Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm today at (614) 444-1900 for a free and confidential case evaluation with a team member. Brian Joslyn is a criminal defense attorney with over 10 years of experience, and he will make every effort to help you find the best possible outcome for your particular situation.
Hit and Run in Columbus, Ohio, Information Center
- Ohio Requirement to Stop After an Accident
- Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Hit and Run in Franklin County, Ohio
- Evidence Required to Prove a Hit and Run
- Defenses for Hit and Run Offenses in Ohio
- Resources for Hit and Run Offenses in Columbus
- News About Hit and Run Offenses in Franklin County
- FAQs About Hit and Run Offenses in Ohio
- Hit and Run Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio
According to Ohio Rev. Code § 4549.02, stopping after accident on public roads or highways is immediately required by a person driving or operating a motor vehicle on public roads or highways who had knowledge of the accident or collision. They are also required to stay at the scene until they have given their information to the other driver, any person injured, or the police officer.
If a person injured in the accident is unable to record or comprehend the alleged offender’s information, the alleged offender is required to notify the nearest police authority about the accident and remain at the scene until a police officer arrives, unless removed from the scene by an emergency vehicle.
If an individual is involved in an accident with an unoccupied or unattended motor vehicle, the individual must secure the required information to a noticeable place on the unattended vehicle.
Any driver involved in an accident in Ohio must stop and give the following information to the other driver, anyone injured in the crash, or any police officer arriving at the scene:
- The vehicle operator’s name;
- The vehicle operator’s address;
- The registered number of the vehicle; and/or
- If not the vehicle owner, the name and address of the owner.
How You Might Be Charged for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Failure to adhere to Ohio’s hit and run laws constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if the hit and run involves an accident that caused a person to sustain serious physical harm, the offender will be charged with a felony of the fifth degree.
Should a person leave the scene of an accident that causes the death of another person, the offender will be charged with a felony of the third degree. The charge elevates to a third-degree felony if the offender was aware that the collision caused a person’s death and left the scene of the accident anyway.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Columbus depend on how the offender is charged for the offense. Definite jail terms for misdemeanors are outlined in Section 2929.24 of the Ohio Revised Code. Penalties for felonies are detailed in Section 2929.14 of the R.C.
- Misdemeanor of the first degree: Under section 4549.02 of the Ohio Revised Code, a person who does not stop after an accident on public roads or highways can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. This offense is punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or a fine not more than $1,000.
- Felony of the fifth degree: If the accident results in serious physical harm to a person, the alleged offender who failed to stop can be convicted of a felony of the fifth degree. This degree of offense can result in a prison sentence from six months to one year and/or fines up to $2,500.
- Felony of the third degree: If the accident results in the death of a person, the individual who allegedly failed to stop after the collision can be charged with a felony of the third degree. This offense is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from one to five years and/or fines not exceeding $10,000.
Driver’s License Suspension
Adding to these penalties, an individual who has violated this statute will receive a class five suspension, which will result in a suspension from at least six months to three years.
Additionally, an individual who is charged with failure to stop after a collision can receive six points based on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ 12-point driving point system. If anyone receives 12 or more points within a two-year period, their license and driving privileges will be suspended under a class D suspension.
This may result in a suspension for up to six months. Driving with a suspended license has its own set of penalties and also a serious violation of Ohio laws.
Related Hit and Run Traffic Offenses
- Ohio Rev. Code § 4549.021 – Stopping After an Accident on Other than Public Roads or Highways– This statute requires an individual driving or operating a motor vehicle on any public or private property to stop after an accident or collision resulting in injury or damage to persons or property when they had knowledge of the accident or collision. They are also required to submit their information within twenty-four hours to a law enforcement officer if they were previously unable to give the information to the owner.
- This offense is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree or felony of the fifth or third degree. Additionally, the alleged offender’s driver’s license will be suspended under a class five suspension, which will result in a suspension from at least six months to three years.
- Ohio Rev. Code § 4549.03 – Stopping After an Accident Involving Damage to Realty or Personal Property Attached to Real Property– This statute requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in property damage to real property or personal property attached to real property to take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the property and give them their information. If they are unable to locate the owner after a reasonable search, they are required to submit their information within twenty-four hours to a law enforcement officer.
- A violation of this statute is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. This means the prosecutor has the burden of proof to establish your guilt—rather than you having to establish your innocence.
First and foremost, the prosecution must prove the presence of willfulness. In other words, they must convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were aware of the accident and of injuries and/or death when you left the scene.
As serious as a hit and run charge can be, the law does provide opportunities for strategic defense against these charges, depending on the circumstances of a particular case.
Common legal defense strategies for this type of case include:
- Rights violations: Police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, which protect us all from unlawful searches and seizures. Any unlawfully obtained evidence will be suppressed.
- Ignorance of the accident: The defendant did not know they were in an accident. If prosecutors cannot prove you had knowledge of the accident, they cannot convict you of a hit skip.
- Ignorance of injury or death: The defendant did not know that another person suffered injury or died as a result of the crash.
- Someone else drove: If the defendant was not driving, they cannot be found guilty of a hit and run.
- The police officer made a mistake: If the responding law enforcement officer incorrectly wrote your ticket—perhaps referencing the wrong statute or other detail—this defense might work in your case.
- You were not given 24 hours to report the accident: If police arrested and charged you without giving you the required 24 hours to report the collision, your lawyer can raise this defense.
- You were in a one-car accident: If no other vehicles were involved in the collision, there was nobody for you to notify of the collision. Keep in mind that you still are required to locate the owner of any property you might have damaged, but you have 24 hours to notify the owner and/or to report the accident to police.
Your Columbus traffic violations lawyer will investigate your accident and determine which of these or other defense strategies might work to either have your charges dropped or reduced.
This section of the Ohio Revised Code explains in detail the state’s laws regarding stopping after an accident on public roads or highways. Read this text to learn what the state requires from the operator of a vehicle in this type of situation. The law also explains the charges and possible consequences for this offense.
The City of Columbus also enforces its own laws that drivers must follow after an accident on a public road or highway. In this safety code and ordinance, you will read many of the same requirements outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. This municipal code also informs you of your obligation to contact the Columbus Division of Police or closest police authority about the collision and its location.
In this March 2020 Ohio Supreme Court case, appellant Michael Bryant appealed the First District Court of Appeals’ judgment that affirmed Bryant’s conviction for leaving the scene of an accident. In the original case, Bryant allegedly hit Elanor Everhardt’s car while passing her on the road. The two drivers pulled over to exchange information, and Bryant provided Everhardt with his state ID and permitted her to photograph his license plate.
However, Bryant allegedly asked Everhardt to not call the police because he had been drinking, was a drug dealer, and had drugs in his possession. The two drivers continued to talk for an hour before Everhardt eventually entered her car and called a tow truck and the police. Meanwhile, Bryant left the scene. The officer arrived on the scene and filed charges against Bryant for leaving the scene.
The Ohio Supreme Court concluded that the law did not require Bryant to remain at the scene after his one-hour conversation with Everhardt: “It is enough that Bryant remained at the scene for a reasonable amount of time, that he complied with R.C. 4549.02(A)(1)(a) and (b), and that there is no evidence that Bryant knew, when he left, that Everhardt had called or was going to call the police.”
Regarding his failure to provide his vehicle’s registration number, the Court ruled that Bryant’s license plate number sufficed as the “registered number” of his vehicle and that, therefore, Bryant did not fail to provide required information to Everhardt as specified in the Ohio Revised Code.
As such, the judgment was reversed, and Bryant’s conviction was vacated.
In this case, a woman was accused of clipping the knee of a bar employee when pulling out of a parking spot—then fleeing the scene of the accident. The defendant said she did not feel the impact of the car hitting the bar employee and did not know the accident had occurred until a police offer pulled her over for a hit skip.
The alleged collision occurred on private property and thus was subject to Ohio Revised code 4549.021 requirements for stopping after a private property accident—which mirrors Ohio’s hit skip laws. As with its sister code for public property collisions, Section 4549.021 specifies that the vehicle operator must have knowledge of the accident or collision for the rules of stopping and exchanging information with the other operator to apply. Knowledge is, therefore, an essential element of the offense.
The Court ruled that the city failed to prove the defendant knew she had struck the bar employee and that there was no evidence that she knew about the accident when she left the scene. The conviction against Eubanks was accordingly vacated, and she was discharged.
This site gathers five years’ worth of crash data from all Ohio counties. The data comes from crash reports received by the Ohio Department of Public Safety from Ohio’s various law enforcement agencies. The site lets you generate reports based on the criteria of your choosing.
April 1, 2021
“Two Charged with Tampering with Evidence in Connection to Hit-And-Run Crash”
The Coshocton Tribune reported that two individuals were charged with the third-degree felony of tampering with evidence in connection to a hit and run collision. The accident happened on Ohio 751 and resulted in a Waynesburg couple sustaining injuries. As Shawn and Robin O’Neill were driving north on a motorcycle, a southbound vehicle struck the motorcycle, ejecting both occupants.
The striking vehicle continued south on Ohio 751. The injured couple was taken to Ohio State University. The sheriff’s office investigated the scene, collecting vehicle parts that indicated a dark-colored Nissan Altima was involved in the crash. Residents were asked to check their security cameras for a vehicle matching the description and traveling in the area at the time of the incident.
April 12, 2021
“Jury Selection Begins for Canfield Fatal DUI Hit-and-Run Suspect”
The trial of Michael Malvasi moves forward, as reported by 21 WFMJ. The 30-year-old Canfield man is accused of failing to stop after a collision on November 18, 2017, on Shields Road. Allegedly, Malvasi was intoxicated at the time of the accident, which ultimately killed Ryan Lanzo. Malvasi’s blood work showed a blood alcohol content level of .075 percent. However, his lawyers say that law enforcement did not draw the blood samples in a timely manner.
The attorneys are moving to suppress this evidence at trial. The judge overruled a defense strategy claiming insufficient probable cause for police to search Malvasi’s social media accounts, phone, and SUV. In addition to the criminal trial, Malvasi is the subject of a negligence lawsuit that the Lanzo family filed.
April 5, 2021
“Springfield Police Arrest, Charge Hit-and-Run Suspect”
A truck pulling lawn equipment struck a pedestrian who was trying to cross East High Street in Springfield, Ohio, reported 2 News WDTN. The truck did not stop. The pedestrian sustained serious injuries and was pronounced dead at Springfield Regional Medical Center. Investigators scoured surveillance footage and found the driver who allegedly drove the truck that hit the pedestrian. The driver claimed she did not know she had struck the man. She is now being charged with felony hit and run, tampering with evidence, vehicular manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, operating an unsafe vehicle, driving without a license, and improper passing on the right.
March 31, 2021
“Hit and Run Driver Who Killed 23-Year-Old Woman Out on Bond”
Mario Donald Lerario faces multiple charges—including aggravated vehicular homicide, stopping after the accident, and tampering with evidence—according to Cleveland 19 News. The news source reports that Lerario struck the vehicle of 23-year-old Abigail Vanest as she turned left onto Woodland Circle NW. According to the article, the man abandoned his vehicle and fled the scene with the help of a woman. Police say that both speed and alcohol played a role in the collision. Vanest died from her injuries. Lerario was released after posting 10 percent of his bail, which was set at $500,000.
March 16, 2021
“Man Dies After Hit-and-Run in Southeast Columbus, Police Investigating”
Police are investigating a hit and run that left a 46-year-old man dead, reports ABC 6. The collision occurred in the 2500 block of South Hamilton Road. A silver SUV struck the man, identified as Jason Jordan, then fled the scene. Jordan was pushed into the northbound lane where he was hit an additional three times by three different vehicles. The drivers of these vehicles called 911 and remained at the scene of the accident. Jordan died from his injuries.
Q. How Many Points Is a Hit Skip in Ohio?
- A hit skip, also known as a hit and run, will cost you six driver’s license points. The Ohio BMV will send you a warning letter at this point. If you receive another six points on your record within a two-year period, the BMV will suspend your license and driving privileges for six months.
Q. What Is a Hit and Run Charge in Ohio?
- Ohio law says if you fail to stop after a collision or accident on a public road or highway, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The charge escalates to a felony if you left the scene knowing that someone was injured in the collision or if someone dies from injuries sustained in the accident.
Q. What Is the Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Ohio?
- If you are charged with a hit and run misdemeanor in the first degree, you face a maximum jail term of 180 days and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. If the hit and run caused serious injury to a person, and you are charged with a felony of the fifth degree, you could be sentenced between six and 12 months in prison and fines up to $2,500.
If someone died from their collision injuries in your hit and run and you are charged with a felony of the third degree, you face a prison term of up to five years, as well as maximum fines of $10,000.
Q. How Can I Beat My Hit and Run Charges in Columbus?
- Although Ohio prosecutors and judges take leaving the scene offenses very seriously, your lawyer can raise any of several defenses to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer might argue that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated and seek to suppress evidence resulting from an unlawful search and seizure. This could result in your charges being dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.
Alternatively, your lawyer could argue that you were not aware of the accident or that someone had been injured in the collision. In some cases, lawyers have argued that the defendant was not driving and, therefore, was not required to remain at the scene. If police made a mistake writing your ticket, or if they arrested you without giving you 24 hours to report the accident, this could serve as a solid defense.
Q. Where Can I Learn More About Hit and Run Laws in Columbus?
- Ohio Revised Code Section 4529.02 includes all the information pertaining to the state’s laws about stopping at the scene of an accident or collision. Read this section of the Revised Code to learn what the state expects you to do after a crash and how you will be charged for violating this statute.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Defense Attorney
Ohio prosecutors and judges want to make sure that if residents are involved in accidents that cause property damage, personal injury, or fatalities, the people involved in the collisions take responsibility. Because public safety is at stake, the laws about stopping at the scene of an accident are taken very seriously.
If you are charged with a violation of this statute, you will want a defense lawyer who is familiar with the Columbus courts, judges, prosecutors, and staff—and is passionate about defending clients against criminal charges.
Contact the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm today for a consultation about allegedly leaving the scene in Columbus, Ohio. Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm is an attorney for traffic violations in Columbus and will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious repercussions and consequences to your traffic offense.
Call the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation about your hit and run traffic offense in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.