On Monday, December 26th, police discovered a 17-year-old homeless girl lying in the street near the 27500 block of Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. The girl had been the victim of a hit-and-run collision that was reported at 8:30 pm that evening. The investigation is currently underway, though at the moment police aren’t sure why the girl was trying to cross the street at that time, and no witnesses have come forward. In addition to the lack of witnesses, police were unable to locate any cameras in the area that may have recorded the moments before or during the crime.
Hit-and-runs fall under California Vehicle Code 20001 VC, and are described as leaving the scene of an accident or collision without first identifying yourself to the other people involved. The description of the law may make it sound like only the person who is at fault can be charged with hit-and-run, however, that isn’t the case. Anyone can be charged with violating VC 20001 even if the fault of the accident falls on the other driver, or if no one is at fault.
California Vehicle Code 20001 VC is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If the damage was not severe, no aggravating factors were involved (i.e. alcohol or drugs), and the defendant has little or no criminal history, it’s possible that the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor. If so, the possible penalties include a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 dollars and/or up to 1 year in county jail. If the accident resulted in death or serious injury, the defendant will need to serve at least 90 days in jail.
When someone is killed or permanently injured as a result of the accident, the crime is often charged as a felony. In this case, the possible penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, 2 to 4 years in California state prison, restitution and 2 points on the defendant’s driving record.