Most people know that a driver involved in a car accident can be charged with the crime of hit and run for leaving the scene of the accident. However, many are surprised to learn that passengers involved in a Virginia hit and run can also be charged with a crime for failing to report an accident that they knew the driver did not report.
Duties Imposed on Passengers Involved in A Virginia Hit and Run
Virginia drivers involved in any car accident, no matter how minor, are required to provide certain information to the owner of the property involved or the police. If a driver fails to make the necessary reporting or make a reasonable effort to locate the property owner, he can be charged with a Virginia hit and run.
Additionally, Virginia imposes certain duties on passengers in vehicles that are involved in accidents. Any passenger over the age of 16 who was involved in an accident must report the accident within 24 hours to the police if he knows the driver did not report it. He must provide his name, address, and the other information the driver was required to report (to the extent he knows the information).
If the hit and run involved damage to unoccupied property, the passenger will be charged under Va. Code §46.2-897. If the accident involved damage to occupied property, injury or death, the passenger will be charged under Va. Code §46.2-895.
Proof Required to Convict Passengers Involved In A Virginia Hit and Run
To convict passengers involved in a Virginia hit and run, the Commonwealth must prove that the offender:
- was a passenger
- in a vehicle involved in an accident
- had knowledge of the accident
- was 16 or older
- knew the driver failed to make the necessary reporting or search for the property owner
- failed to report the accident to the police within 24 hours
Penalties for Passengers who Fail to Report an Accident
Passengers involved in a Virginia hit and run who fail to report the accident can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the accident and if anyone was injured or killed.
- Unoccupied Property, Damage Less Than $250: If the hit and run involved unattended property (or unoccupied property), a passenger who fails to report the accident will be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor, punished with a fine up to $250.
- Unoccupied or Occupied Property, Damage More than $250: Passengers involved in a Virginia hit and run that involve more than $250 worth of property damage will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, whether the property was unoccupied or occupied. This offense is punished with up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500. If the property damage exceeded $500, the offender’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to 6 months.
- Injury or Death: Passengers involved in a Virginia hit and run in which someone was injured or killed who fail to report the accident will be charged with a Class 6 felony. This offense is punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.