Better Call Glew: Hit-And-Run With a Parking Lot Pole
Right now I'm on probation. Last month I was leaving an ATM and I backed my truck into a painted pole in the bank's parking lot. I didn't hit it hard so I just left. Later I noticed a little bit of paint on my bumper but nothing major. Yesterday the police came to my house and questioned me about what happened and said they had video of it. Can they charge me with hit and run if I didn't hit a car and will it be a violation of my probation?
Unfortunately, the answers to your questions are yes and yes.
Vehicle Code section 20002(a) is the controlling statute. A charge of hit and run will be filed as a felony if the collision causes injury and as a misdemeanor if there is only property damage. Based upon what you have told me, it looks like you're facing a possible misdemeanor charge of violating Vehicle Code section 20002(a), and to be convicted, a prosecutor need only show that you left the scene of an accident, prior to leaving, you did not identify yourself to the other party/parties involved, and another's property was damaged as a result of the collision.
If you are convicted, you are facing up to six months in jail, three years informal probation, fines of up to $1000 plus court costs, and restitution to the party that sustained the property damage. Based on what you have told me, there was, technically, damage to the pole, as evidenced by the paint transfer to your bumper. However slight, the damage the pole sustained is sufficient for you to be charged with, and potentially convicted of, hit and run. If the District Attorney does decide to file charges against you, this will most assuredly constitute a violation of your probation, as I can almost guarantee that one of the terms of your probation is to violate no law.
Are you on probation for a felony or a misdemeanor? If you are on formal probation for a felony, this violation can have serious consequences, including jail exposure. It's always better to take the five minutes and deal with a problem now, then to ignore it and face much harsher consequences later.
Send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, Better Call Glew!
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