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LSA: Leaving The Scene of An Accident

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Leaving the scene of an accident, or LSA, is a common misdemeanor criminal traffic offense in the State of Florida. In non-legal terms, it is known as a "hit and run." For the purposes of this blog entry, I will be dicussing the misdemeanor offense where no person was injured or killed. If someone is injured or killed during an LSA, it is a felony offense.
Leaving the scene of an accident occurs when a driver hits another car, causes damage to that car, and fails to remain at the scene. These types of incidents occur every day in the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, and throughout Broward County.
As a criminal defense attorney practicing in Miami and Broward, and as a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, I have considerable experience when it comes to LSA cases. What I can tell you is that LSA is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 2 months in jail, a $500 fine, and 6 months of probation. Additionally, when you appear for court, I can tell you that the standard plea offer from the State Attorney is a withhold of adjudication, court costs (which can be upwards of $350), a $250 fine (in addition to your court costs), 8-12 hours of traffic school (which you must pay for), and court-ordered restitution for any damage done to the other car.
This plea offer is not only expensive, it will leave you with a criminal record. Before you plead no contest and simply accept the punishment the State wants to give you, discuss your case with a seasoned criminal lawyer who has handled LSA cases.
A good criminal attorney may be able to expose weaknesses in the State's case. Remember, it's the State's job to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore they must have evidence that you not only struck another car, but that you deliberately left the scene. That means that the State must prove the element of knowledge, which, as a former prosecutor, is a difficult thing to prove. It means that the State must get inside your head and convince a judge or jury of what you were thinking. That you knew that you had gotten into an accident and you left the scene on purpose.
If the "accident" was one with little to no damage, it is plausible that you were unaware that an accident had even occurred. Furthermore, you may have driven a block or two just to find a safe place to pull over. Perhaps in doing that, the other driver thought you were fleeing the scene and contacted police.
Getting into a car accident by itself is not a crime, but knowingly leaving the scene is. Don't mess around with charges that could lead to hefty fines, spikes in your car insurance rates, and a criminal record. Call my office to schedule a consultation so that we may discuss the best possible defense for your LSA case.