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Vehicle and Traffic Law 600: Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting

I was involved in a “hit and run” car accident in New York City. What are the consequences of not telling the police? Will I be arrested? I don’t know if I hurt anyone, but does it make a difference if I left the scene of car accident in White Plains in Westchester County and there were no police around to talk to? I never called the police later to report the incident. Have I committed a crime? As simple as a criminal lawyer or vehicular crimes attorney can state it, yes, it not only matters, but your failure to report an accident or incident and adhere to the law can constitute a violation, misdemeanor or even felony. This offense, Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting, is codified in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 600.

Depending on how many times you have violated NY VTL 600 and the nature of the property damage, injury (or even death) of the other party, your failure to report is punishable by fines and jail as follows:

VTL 600(1)(a): Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting – Property Damage

Pursuant to NY VTL 600(1)(a), if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident as the operator of that vehicle and you know or should know that damage has been caused to the real property or personal property of another person because of an incident involving a motor vehicle, before leaving the location where the damage occurred you must stop your vehicle, provide your name and residence, and exhibit your drivers license and insurance card. If the recipient of your accidental damage or victim of the property damage is not present, you are required to report the accident or incident to the nearest police station.

If you fail to follow the law, in addition to any other criminal conduct that may violate the New York Penal Code, it is likely you will be issued a pink summons or ticket for a non-criminal violation, but one that will track your DMV record. VTL 600(1)(a) is a traffic infraction with a possible penalty including a $250 fine and even fifteen days in jail.

VTL 600(2)(a): Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting – Personal Injury

NY VTL 600(2)(a) similarly follows the language of NY VTL 600(2)(a), but has some critical differences. First, instead of the resulting damage to property occurring because of an accident or incident, section (2)(a) of Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting involves a personal injury. Additionally, the law mandates that you report your incident to a police officer and if none is around or available, then you must report the incident to the closest police precinct or station.

Not only are there key differences between the property damage and physical injury sections of VTL 600, but the ramifications and consequences of violating VTL 600(2)(a) are far more serious. Assuming it is your first offense and your failure involves exchanging the required information, a conviction for this section of Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting is a class “B” misdemeanor. Yes, such a criminal conviction creates a criminal record even though the crime involves the Vehicle and Traffic Law in lieu of the New York Penal Law. With a penalty as great as ninety days in jail and fines ranging from $250 to $500, there is no question that you must consult with a New York criminal lawyer to minimize your exposure and identify your best defense. As if things couldn’t get worse, if you were convicted of NY VTL 600(2)(a) a second time due to this failure to exchange necessary information, the crime increases to a class “A” misdemeanor where your sentence jumps to as much as one year in jail with a doubling in fines.

Because of different applications of New York’s Leaving the Scene of an Incident Law without Reporting, first time violations of the crime that result in a personal injury can differ than above. In fact, if you violate VTL 600(2)(a) for failing to either advise the nearest police officer or report the incident to the nearest police station, instead of merely failing to share certain information, then the penalty and punishment is the same as a second time offender set forth above. That is, your potential penalty on a class “A” misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.

VTL 600(2)(a): Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting – Serious Injury

Tracking the language of the VTL 600(2)(a) statute, where it is not a personal injury, but an injury that as defined by law as a serious physical injury, a conviction for Leaving the Scene of an Incident in New York is a class “E” felony. Before addressing penalties associated with this felony crime, know that a “serious physical injury” is statutorily defined in substance as one that presents a significant risk of death, protracted impairment to health, disfigurement and more than mere bruises, cuts and even minor broken bones. If convicted of what your criminal attorney will advise is a life altering felony, you face up to four years in a New York State prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

VTL 600(2)(a): Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting – Death

Ultimately, the worst-case scenario involving an arrest for NY VTL 600(2)(a) is where the result of an accident or incident is death. In such a scenario, a conviction for Leaving the Scene of an Incident without Reporting the same is a class “D” felony. With fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, the financial ramification pales in comparison to the potential magnitude of incarceration. Upon conviction for NY VTL 600(2)(a), a judge can sentence you to prison for as long as seven years.

Whatever subsection of Leaving the Scene of an Incident you are charged with, whether you are arrested and booked, arrested and given a New York City Desk Appearance Ticket, or issued a summons for VTL 600(1)(a) or 600(2)(a), the last thing you want to see happen is an ultimate finding of guilt whereby you are branded with a criminal record, your license to drive in New York is compromised, or, in the worst case scenario, you end up incarcerated.

Every allegation of and arrest for VTL 600 demands your attention and that of your criminal lawyer. The New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law stand ready to guide and represent you with their unparalleled experience and knowledge as well as their unsurpassed advocacy.

Call our New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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