A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a 2-year-old and his girlfriend was sent to jail for a year for her role in trying to hide him and the crime. The small girl was following her sister across an apartment complex parking lot when she was hit by a car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver got out of the car and told his girlfriend to drive while he ran away on foot, the newspaper reported. The couple then hid from police and was on the lam for several days before being arrested, the newspaper reported.
The man was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving on a suspended license. Leaving the scene involving a death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, while driving on a suspended license is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. If a driver is involved in an accident and someone is injured, that driver has the legal obligation to call for help, render aid if possible and remain on the scene until police and emergency crews arrive. That did not happen in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, and the driver's alleged history of a dozen citations for driving on a suspended license likely did not help in the sentencing phase of the case.
From a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney perspective, the sentencing of the girlfriend presents an interesting challenge. It's unclear if she knew her boyfriend was not supposed to be driving, but, she was then placed in a situation to make a split-second decision once the accident occurred. She was in all likelihood trying to protect her boyfriend when she drove off, perhaps unaware of her own exposure to charges in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. She was charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. Accessory after the fact is one degree below the actual crime. So, because the leaving the scene of an accident was a first-degree felony, the accessory charge is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. She was also charged with evidence tampering, a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, likely for driving the car away from where the accident occurred. So she was facing 20 years in prison and got one year in the county jail. The state likely justified the charge by saying although there was a split-second decision to drive the car away, if the couple was holed up for a few days, there was ample time to come forward and she chose not to do so.
Jacksonville Traffic Cases can be difficult because there generally is not a criminal intent from the beginning, but there is instead something that occurs and then forces a person to make a snap decision on how to handle the incident.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.