Man sentenced in hit-and-run death, judge says he would’ve avoided punishment had he stayed at the scene

The decision to leave the scene of a fatal accident was very costly for a St. Johns County man, a judge reminded him during a sentencing hearing this month.  But the man will spend nine months in the county jail, far less than the 30-year maximum sentence of the crime he was originally charged with, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was driving down A1A one evening in July 2014 when a man stepped into the road and was hit and killed by the driver, the newspaper reported. But, instead of staying at the scene of the accident and calling police, as is required by law, the 25-year-old driver took off. Police found him at his home and arrested him, the newspaper reported.

He was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in state prison. Instead, the state allowed the driver to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury – a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Part of the reason for the downgrade is charge is likely because the first-degree felony carries a minimum mandatory charge of four years in prison, which is far more than the man was eventually sentenced to.

According to state law, if a driver is involved in an accident, he or she must stop the vehicle, call the police and provide driver’s license and insurance information to other people involved. In St. Johns County Traffic Cases where a person is seriously injured, the driver “shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.”  In this St. Johns County Felony Case, the driver panicked and left. In many St. Johns County Hit-and-Run cases, the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and leaves the scene to avoid those charges. But that was not the case here, the driver just made a bad decision. The pedestrian was hospitalized and died the next day. The defendant was asking for probation in this case and the state sought a year in county jail – the maximum the man could receive without being sent to state prison.

Our St. Johns County Traffic Attorney represents people charges with all types of traffic offenses – from speeding tickets on up to criminal charges that include time in state prison.
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 St. Johns County Felony Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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