Leaving the Scene of an Accident

In Massachusetts, drivers involved in accidents have a duty to stop at the scene and provide information to the authorities or those who sustained property damage or were injured by the accident so liability may be assessed at a later time. If no one is available at the scene, then the driver must report the incident as soon as physically able to the nearest police station. Drivers who leave the scene sometimes are unaware that they have been involved in an accident but typically the driver leaves because they have issues with their driver’s license or vehicle insurance or some other reason. Identity of the driver becomes a big issue in such cases where no eyewitnesses are involved that can provide a solid description of the alleged perpetrator.  Those who leave the scene of an accident without making themselves known and exchanging license and registration information are in direct violation of Section 24 of Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws. Police detectives will go to great lengths to investigate such crime in order to identify the person or persons responsible for accidents and see to it that restitution is made for those involved. Authorities assert that no matter what your driving history, insurance or license status is; if you are involved in any kind of motor vehicle accident, you are better off simply staying put and abiding by the law. In the event that you do leave the scene of a personal injury or property damage accident you must contact a Massachusetts motor vehicle crimes defense lawyer experienced in defending such cases.  A qualified lawyer will know how to protect your rights and identity when the police and other authorities undergo their serious investigation to identify you.  If you provide information to authorities without speaking first to a lawyer you will most likely be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Automobile Accident. This is a very serious offense in Massachusetts and a conviction will result in fines, probation, and a suspension of your driving privileges, car insurance hikes, and the possibility of serving jail time or even being faced with a civil lawsuit. If you have fallen victim to your fight-or-flight instinct and have left the scene of an accident, contact an experienced Massachusetts motor vehicle defense attorney immediately who will be able to inform you of your rights and explore the best possible options for proceeding.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF PROPERTY DAMAGE IN MASSACHUSETTS
M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (2)(a) provides that any individual who without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle leaves the scene of an accident after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any other vehicle or property shall be found in violation of this section. Leaving the scene of an accident in Massachusetts that causes injury to another vehicle or property is a misdemeanor offense.  A conviction under this law shall be punishable by the following:
  • A fine of $20-$200, or
  • Imprisonment for not less than 2 weeks nor more than 2 years, or 
  • Both fine and imprisonment.
In order to be found guilty of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Property Damage, the prosecution must be able to prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. The defendant operated it on a way, or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
  3. While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused damage to another vehicle or property either by colliding with it or in some other way;
  4. The defendant knew he or she had collided with another’s property, or had in some way caused damage to another’s property; and
  5. After causing such damage, the defendant did not stop and make known his or her name, home address, and the registration number of the motor vehicle.
LEAVING THE SCENE OF PERSONAL INJURY NOT RESULTING IN DEATH
M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2)(1) dictates that any individual who without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle leaves the scene of an accident after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any person not resulting in the death of any person shall be found in violation of this section. Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts causing injury to any person not resulting in death is a misdemeanor offense.  A conviction under this law shall be punishable by the following:
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 6 months (no more than 2 years), or
  • A fine ranging from $500-$1,000.
In addition, a violation of M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2) (1) will result in the automatic suspension of the offender’s driving privileges by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. At the discretion of the RMV, a new license may be issued or driving privileges may be restored after 1 year following a conviction for a first offense, or after 2 years for a subsequent conviction.

In order to be found guilty of Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury Not Resulting In Death, the prosecution must be able to prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. The defendant operated it on a way, or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
  3. While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she caused damage to another person by either colliding with that person or in some other way;
  4. The defendant knew he or she had collided with another person, or had in some way caused injury to another person; and 
  5. After such collision or injury, the defendant did not stop and make known his or her name, home address, and the registration number of the motor vehicle.
LEAVING THE SCENE AFTER CAUSING DEATH
M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2)(2) mandates that any individual who without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle leaves the scene of an accident or otherwise goes away to avoid prosecution or evade apprehension after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing the death of a person shall be in violation of this law. Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision resulting in the death or a person is a felony offense in Massachusetts.  A conviction under this law shall be punishable by the following:
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in the state prison for 2.5 years (no more than 10 years) and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, OR
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for 1 year (no more than 2.5 years) and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
In addition, a violation of M.G.L. c. 90, §§ 24 (a1/2) (2) will result in the automatic suspension of the offender’s driving privileges by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. At the discretion of the RMV, a new license may be issued or driving privileges may be restored after 3 years following a conviction for a first offense, or after 10 years for a subsequent conviction.

In order to be convicted of the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Death, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. That the defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. That he operated it on a public way or in a place where the public has a right of access;
  3. That while the defendant operated the vehicle, he collided with or caused injuries to another that resulted in death;
  4. That the defendant knew that he collided with or caused the death of another; and
  5. That after such collision or injury, the defendant did not stop and make known his name, home address, and the registration number of his vehicle.
The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy understands that some people may feel so overwhelmed by the trauma of being in an automobile collision and the possibility of being subject to further repercussions that leaving or fleeing the scene may seem to be the best option. If you have been charged with Leaving the Scene Of An Accident in Massachusetts, you require expert and aggressive legal defense to avoid the penalties associated with this crime. Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. is a Boston, Massachusetts criminal motor vehicle violations defense lawyer with nearly 20 years of experience defending clients accused of ordinary and serious motor vehicle crimes. Attorney Murphy will see to it that every detail is thoroughly examined and every viable defense strategy is implemented in your case. Call the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today for a free and absolutely confidential initial consultation at 617-367-0450 or email him directly using our online contact form.
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