Have you been arrested for Failure to Stop and Render Aid in Fort Worth or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas? If so, you are facing a serious criminal charge that must be defended zealously by an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney with experience dealing with Failure to Stop and Render Aid cases in Tarrant County, Texas.
According to the Texas Transportation Code, Title 7: Vehicles and Traffic, Chapter 550: Accidents and Accident Reports, Section 550.021, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office will be required to prove the following elements of Failure to Stop and Render Aid beyond a reasonable doubt:
The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person shall:
- immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible.
- immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
- remain at the scene of the accident until the operator gives the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license; and provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
Additionally, Texas Transportation Code, Section 550.021(b)-(c) state that if you are required to stop under this law, you must do so without obstructing traffic more than is necessary and a person that does not stop or strictly comply with the requirements of this law, will commit the offense of Failure to Stop and Render Aid.
How Serious Is Failure To Stop And Render Aid?
Making a determination as to the severity of the charge and possible range of punishment for Failure to Stop and Render Aid requires a determination as to the extent of the injury of the alleged victim involved in the accident.
The Texas Transportation Code states that if there is an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury, as defined by Section 1.07 of the Texas Penal Code, the crime will be classified as a felony of the third degree. A felony of the third degree is punishable by a term in prison of not less than 2 years but not more than 10 years in prison.
As defined by Texas Penal Code, Section 1.07, “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
If death or “serious bodily injury” cannot be established from the facts of your case, then Failure to Stop and Render Aid is treated with a hybrid punishment range. In other words, Failure to Stop and Render Aid with no proof of death or serious bodily injury is punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for not more than five years or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000.
What if you were involved in an accident and there was only property damage, and you did not stay at the scene?
Under Texas Transportation Code, Section 550.022, the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
- immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
- immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
- remain at the scene of the accident until the operator give(s) the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license; and provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
The Texas Transportation Code states that an offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor (punishable by fine only of up to $500), if the damage to all vehicles is less than $200; a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in Tarrant County jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000), if the damage to all vehicles is $200 or more.
What Should I Do If I Am Being Accused Of Fail To Stop And Render Aid?
The first clue that you are being investigated for a failure to stop and render aid is if you receive a phone call or letter from a detective. If a police officer or detective is reaching out to you, they have one goal in mind – you answering their questions to provide a confession. Let us examine both scenarios:
- Phone call from a detective – receiving a phone call from a detective means there is an investigation that is ongoing, and you are the primary suspect. Do not be deceived – the overwhelming majority of the time, a detective is only calling you because they have already established sufficient probable cause to obtain a warrant. The temptation is to believe that you can explain what happened and soften the situation with the detective to avoid a warrant. However, this never happens. Instead, if you choose to speak to the detective, he will take every statement you make and piece it together to fit the narrative given by the alleged victim or other witnesses. Please remember, everything you say WILL be used against you, even if your statements were innocent. You cannot trust that the detective will not misinterpret or manipulate your statement to fit the story the detective already believes from the alleged victim. Instead, if you choose to work with an experienced and aggressive criminal attorney, your lawyer can reach out to the detective and provide favorable evidence that may clear your name at no risk of manipulation by the detective. By collaborating with a criminal lawyer during the investigative stage of the case, you avoid being treated unfairly. Everything your lawyer says is hearsay and cannot be used against you!
- Letter from a detective – did you receive a letter from the police department indicating you were involved in an accident, and you must respond? Be careful! This letter was sent to you only because someone identified you as the offending vehicle in the accident. You are the primary suspect in a crime! As a result, it is unlikely the police will believe what you say. As such, you need to hire a Fort Worth criminal lawyer to contact the police department and investigate the situation to determine if a warrant can be avoided.
What Should You Do If Your Insurance Company Calls You On A Failure To Stop and Render Aid Case?
If you have been contacted by your insurance company to give a statement of what happened, be incredibly careful! Many people do not realize that your phone conversations with an insurance agent are usually recorded. If your phone call is recorded, this could become a piece of evidence in your failure to stop and render aid case that could be used to convict you.
It is tempting to believe that your insurance company is on your side. This may make you believe that you should speak candidly with them and answer all of their questions! Similar to a detective calling you, it is always in your best interest if you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth to oversee your insurance company’s questions involving a criminal investigation of failure to stop and render aid. The insurance company will be asking probing questions regarding the facts of the case. If you inadvertently say something you did not mean or it can be interpreted in a way that is incriminating, it could be used to obtain an arrest warrant. However, your criminal attorney can take the appropriate measures to inform the insurance company of the information they need, while protecting you from providing a statement that could be manipulated or used against you by the police detective.
How Do You Get Your Failure To Stop and Render Aid Case Dismissed?
At The Hampton Law Firm, we understand the goal of every client is to find a way to get their criminal case dismissed. Although that does not happen for every criminal case, let us examine a few possibilities for how a failure to stop and render aid case can be dismissed or resolved with lesser penalties:
- Dismissal Based Upon Lack Of Evidence – if the State of Texas lacks the evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor should dismiss the case. Your experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney should examine the evidence thoroughly and formulate defense plan highlighting the weaknesses in the evidence to use in negotiating with the prosecutor. This process can highlight the prosecutor’s inability to prove the case, which could lead to an outright dismissal of the charges.
- Conditional Dismissal or Lesser Charge – if you are a first-time offender and there are certain mitigating circumstances or evidence, your criminal attorney may be able to negotiate a conditional dismissal of your fail to stop and render aid case. In this situation, you may be required to complete certain terms and conditions (community service, classes or donations) in exchange for a dismissal of charges.
- Grand Jury No Bill – if your felony fail to stop and render aid case has evidence problems and the prosecutor will not agree to a dismissal of the charges, your criminal lawyer may be able to prepare a packet of evidence to present to a grand jury for a no bill of your case. A no bill by the grand jury is the equivalent of a dismissal and will clear you of all charges and make you eligible for an expunction of your failure to stop and render aid arrest and case records.
- Jury Trial – if the prosecutor fails to be reasonable in their negotiations and a resolution can not be reached, you always have a right to a jury trial under the U.S. and Texas Constitution. At a jury trial, your criminal attorney has the opportunity to cross examine all witnesses from the State and expose the truth to the jury that you were innocent of the charges. The jury is required to reach a unanimous verdict in order to find you guilty.
At The Hampton Law Firm, we believe you should not lose your job and your reputation over an unwise decision made under stressful circumstances involving an accident. Our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys will work tirelessly on your Failure to Stop and Render Aid case and work to have your case dismissed or reduced to a lower-level crime to prevent a conviction from being on your criminal record.
The Hampton Law Firm is a team of former prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over five hundred criminal jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas and other criminal courts in Tarrant County, Texas.
Call The Hampton Law Firm now for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options under Texas law. Contact Jeff Hampton at 817-826-9905.
Contact the Hampton Law Firm now to schedule a free consultation to determine your rights and legal options.