A Lakewood New Jersey man has been charged with knowingly leaving the scene of a fatal accident. The charge stems from a Jackson car accident that resulted in the death of a motorist struck by the defendant. Bail has been set at $150,000.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, an individual is guilty of a second degree crime where he knowingly leaves the scene of a fatal accident. In order to determine whether such a violation has occurred, one must look to N.J.S.A. 39:4-129 which proscribes the circumstances in which someone is guilty of “leaving the scene”. In other words, the Title 39 motor vehicle statute defines what is necessary to be found guilty of leaving the scene and, when it results in a fatality, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1 essentially sets forth the grading of the offense. This charge is generically referred to as a fatal hit and run.
The offense of knowingly leaving the scene of a fatal accident was a third degree offense up until recently. The law was amended to make this charge a Second Degree. What this means is that anyone charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1 is now exposed to 5 to 10 years of prison, whereas previously jail exposure was limited to 0 to 5 years. The enhancement also created a presumption of incarceration. What this all means is that jail is highly likely for an individual like the suspect in this case in the event that they are convicted.