I unknowingly scraped a parked and left the scene. Someone saw the incident, reported it. I was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

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I unknowingly scraped a parked and left the scene. Someone saw the incident, reported it. I was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

I have already submitted my insurance information to repair damage to the person’s car. after an officer contacted me, I found paint on my bumper, so I believe I did it. With my citation, should I plead guilty or no contest to the charge? I believe I scraped the car, but honestly did not know I did it. My main concern is that I don’t want my license to be suspended, especially since I am willing to fix damages. Could my license be suspended for this or will I more likely receive points on my license. This took place in Ohio.

Asked on April 21, 2009 under Accident Law, Ohio

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

IF you plead guilty or are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident -- which is a criminal type offense or violation -- you're subject to all the penalties provided under your state's laws. I am not an Ohio lawyer, but if Ohio provides for a suspension of a license, that could be the result. It may also provide for a possible jail sentence or fine and also brand you as a criminal.

The criminal laws operate differently from the civil laws. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew there was an accident and left. The prosecutors have great discretion on whether to bring charges or not.

If you are very believable and have a clean record, you may be able to convince a jury or judge you are innocent. If you're less than believable and/or have any record, that may be hard.

This is really a criminal defense issue, and as I don't know how serious it may be or what the full consequences may be, it  probably pays to spend a few hundred dollars to get a criminal lawyer's advice and possibly avoid a record. Usually a lawyer can get charges like these reduced or dropped if it is a first offense.


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