Understanding the Legal Implications of Failure to Remain at the Scene: Insights from Sondhi Defence

Explore the legal consequences and defense strategies for failing to remain at the scene of an accident with Sondhi Defence, your trusted guide in criminal defense cases.

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The Dangers of Leaving the Scene After an Accident Occurs

You have just been involved in a car accident, and from your point of view, the other party is fine. Why wait? You return home to complete a report due in the office the next day. A few weeks later, a police officer contacts you to inform you of the accident and consequential charges for failing to remain at the scene.

No matter how minor an accident is, leaving the scene is a criminal offence. It carries serious legal implications for your life and licence, irrespective of whether you were at fault. If you have been charged with this criminal offence, it is vital to consult a criminal defence lawyer for assistance. At Sondhi Defence, we have experience in handling these types of cases. We can help you fight your charges and protect your rights.

Understanding ‘Failure to Remain at the Scene’

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and the Federal Criminal Code deal with the offence of leaving an accident scene:

  • Section 200 of the HTA makes it an offence to leave the scene of an accident in which you are directly or indirectly involved.

  • Section 320 (16) (1) of the criminal code describes “failing to stop” after an accident as an offence.

After a motor vehicle accident, police officers investigate to find out exactly what happened and how it happened. You are legally obligated to remain until law enforcement officers arrive. Leaving the scene may make you seem like the guilty party – a ‘hit-and-run’ driver, and you may be charged under the Criminal Code or the HTA.

Penalties for Failing to Remain at the Scene of an Accident

A failure to remain at the scene of a collision carries weighty ramifications. Under the HTA, the potential legal penalties for a conviction of this offence are:

  • A fine between $400 to $2000

  • A jail term of up to six months

  • Both fines and jail time

  • Not more than two years of licence suspension

  • Seven demerit points

The punishment for a conviction under the criminal code will depend on whether it is an indictable offence (serious offence) or a summary offence (less serious). By indictment, the punishment is imprisonment for not more than ten years. A summary conviction is punishable by up to $5,000 in fines or a prison term of not more than two years less a day, or both. The punishment may be greater where the accident results in bodily harm or death.

Long-term Consequences

A conviction for leaving an accident scene comes with huge ripple effects. It is a criminal code offence, meaning your information will appear on the Canadian police information database. Criminal offences also leave an almost indelible stain on your record that may affect several aspects of your life. Your criminal record is accessible to the public and anyone who decides to run a background check on you.

Most organizations, financial institutions, and private individuals, including employers, insurance companies, and housing agents, carry out routine background checks. This may affect your ability to secure a job, suitable housing, and good auto insurance rates.

Your record may also affect your travel plans. Countries like the United States have immigration laws that prevent individuals with criminal records from gaining entry into the country.

Rights and Responsibilities After an Accident

Legal Obligations

Under Canadian law, certain behaviours are expected when you get involved in a car accident. You must:

  • Remain or immediately return to the accident scene.
  • Render assistance to other parties involved who are hurt or require assistance (if possible).
  • Exchange information – your name, address, driver’s licence number, and motor vehicle insurance information.
  • Provide the name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner and the vehicle permit number.
  • Stop your vehicle.
  • Contact the police and report the accident if there is property damage of more than two thousand dollars.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have been involved in an accident in Ontario, it is crucial that you speak to a criminal defence attorney immediately. Once police officers get to the scene, they will begin questioning to get information about the facts of the incident. You have the right to remain silent when questioned and should exercise that right to avoid making any incriminating statements.

In such cases, exercising your right to legal counsel and letting your lawyer do all the talking for you may be beneficial.

Defence Strategies in ‘Failure to Remain’ Cases

The defences that are available in failure-to-remain cases will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, one common defence that may be applied is necessity. An existing emergency that justifies your decision to leave the scene may serve as a legitimate excuse for your actions. With skilled legal representation, you may have a better shot at applying other possible defences.

The Role of Legal Representation

Facing a failure-to-remain charge alone may be tough. Going to court to explain why you left the scene of an accident may get your charges reduced but not dropped. The penalties for a conviction under the reduced charges may still run into thousands of Canadian dollars and possible jail time. Securing professional legal representation can go a long way in getting your charges dropped.

At Sondhi Defence, our diligent criminal defence lawyers know how to defend a fail-to-remain charge. When it comes to driving-related offences, we know the legal technicalities and rules of evidence and how to apply them in your case. We have dealt with several fail-to-remain cases in Ontario and understand how stressful the legal process can be.

Our team takes a dedicated and unique approach when handling your case, ensuring that no facts are misplaced. Our goal is to help you navigate the intricacies of the judicial system and protect your rights.

In Need of Skilled Representation? Get Immediate Legal Assistance Today

Failure-to-remain offences are minor charges. However, they can have long-term devastating consequences on your life and freedom to drive. Car accidents may lead to civil or criminal liability, depending on the collision’s severity. Personal injury claims may arise, especially in cases of an accident involving bodily harm.

If you are being accused, securing skilled lawyers to properly represent you in court is essential. Representing yourself may put you at risk of being misled into taking responsibility for the crash. If you decide to proceed with our help, we at Sondhi Defence can build an effective defence strategy against the Crown’s evidence and explore all possible legal routes that may lead to a dismissal.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Let us handle your case and give you peace of mind.

Get In Touch

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 1 (855) 4-SONDHI and get our team on your side. 

Andrew George Cowan
Andrew George Cowan
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