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If you are driving a vehicle and crash into another vehicle or property which results in damage to the other vehicle or property, then you must stop at the scene, provide certain information, and render aid to any injured person. If you leave the scene without fulfilling these duties, then you can be charged with “hit and run” under section 3743 and 3744 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
According to Subsection (b) of Section 3743, the charge of hit and run is a misdemeanor of the third degree. The charges for leaving the scene are more serious if anyone is injured or killed because of the crash.
Although the statute does not contain a mens rea element explaining the driver’s state of mind, the courts have imposed a requirement that the defendant must have “known or should have known” that he or she was involved in the accident. In Commonwealth v. Woosnam, 819 A.2d 1198 (Pa.Super. 2003), the Superior Court found that the trial court must give an instruction on the “known or should have known” element of the crime, even through the mens rea element is not found in the statutory language of Section 3743.
The courts have also held that the scienter (knowledge) requirement must be proven through either direct proof or by circumstantial evidence from which knowledge could reasonably be inferred. If the court fails to properly instruct the jury on the knowledge requirement, then that failure would be reversible error that would require a new trial.
If you were charged with hit and run resulting in damage to another vehicle or other property, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Skinner Law Firm. We represent clients charged with hit and run throughout Chester County including West Chester, PA. We also represent clients in the City of Chester, the borough of Media, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, PA.
Related offenses can include driving on a suspended license, DUI, fleeing to elude, and reckless driving. Call us to discuss any criminal violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
To prove the crime of hit and run, a violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code found in Section 3743, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Section 3744 provides that a driver has a duty to stop his or her vehicle immediately at the scene of an accident while obstructing traffic as little as possible, or as close to the scene as possible. The law also provides that the driver must remain at the scene until he or she performs the second duty which is to give information and render aid.
The driver’s duty to give information requires the driver to provide the following information:
Additional information, such as driver's license and proof of insurance, must be presented if requested by any of the following:
In the event that the driver or person attending to the driver is not in the condition to receive the information that the other driver is required to give, then the driver must give the information to any police officer that is present. If no police officer is present under those circumstances, then the driver must still do the following:
The Pennsylvania Suggested Criminal Jury Instructions for Hit and Run Resulting in Damage to Vehicle or Property are found at Instruction No. 17.3743 and were last revised in April 2005.
If you were arrested for hit and run in Chester County, including West Chester, or in Delaware County in the borough of Media or the city of Chester, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Skinner Law Firm. Call (610) 436-1410 today to discuss your case and possible defenses to this third-degree misdemeanor.
With offices conveniently located in West Chester in Chester County and Media in Delaware County, Attorney Michael Skinner is ready to begin your defense today. Call to find out what you need to do right now to protect your rights and fight for the best result. Call (610) 436-1410 today to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in Delaware County, PA.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.