Leaving the Scene of an Accident Charges

A leaving the scene of an accident charge in New Jersey is a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. The charge can involve fines, license suspension, and even jail, depending on whether or not there was an injury involved and/or the extent of any property damage involved in the accident. If you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident it involves mandatory license suspension (ranging from six months to a year) for the first offense. In order for the State to prove a leaving the scene of an accident charge, they must show that the driver was knowingly involved in an accident.  What this presumes is that the State can also prove operation, which is usually established by witness testimony or admissions made by the accused. “Knowingly” involved in an accident means that the driver was actually aware that he was involved in an accident or, that given the circumstances, he reasonably should have been aware that an accident had occurred. A person acts knowingly with respect to the result of his conduct if he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result.  It should also be kept in mind that in those instances where the prosecutor is seeking to impose penalties based on personal injury or significant property damage, those elements must also be established in order to convict. The law and standard for proving a charge of leaving the scene of an accident charge is illustrated in the New Jersey case of State v. Kay 151 N.J. Super 255 (1977). In that case, the court held that evidence that defendant’s automobile was involved in a hit-and-run accident at 2:00 a. m. and that the victim identified defendant as the driver, although not “without a doubt,” was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was driving his automobile at the time of the accident and was guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.