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The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601 

Understanding the Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601 requires you to also understand the intersection of this law with Colorado’s False reporting law. Therefore – where a friend in the driver’s car – realizing the driver is intoxicated and is responsible for a terrible accident  – tells the police – they – not the drunk driver – was driving or otherwise in control of the vehicle.. various options come into play for both parties to this decision to lie to the authorities.

 By Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney – H. Michael Steinberg

The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601

The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries
42-4-1601

A recent Colorado case (2012) makes this point… People v. Richard Anthony HERNANDEZ

Here Are The Facts Of The Case:

Early in the morning on September 18, 2005, Hernandez, his girlfriend, and two other friends left a party in Colorado Springs. Quickly thereafter the vehicle was in an accident resulting in serious injuries to the victim vehicle.

On the way home from the party – the Defendant’s car – an SUV -made a left turn and collided with an oncoming car. When the police arrived they asked who was driving the SUV. Hernandez’s girlfriend lied and told the police she was the driver. She gave a written statement listing herself as the driver which statement included her name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number.

She listed Hernandez’s name and address in the “passenger” section.

She was charged with driving under the influence.        

Later in the investigation, the Defendant’s girlfriend recanted her story and told officers the truth – that Hernandez had been driving the SUV at the time of the accident. The DA then charged Hernandez with leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injuries.

The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601

In Colorado Hit and Run accidents involving injuries is punished in this law:

§ 42-4-1601. Accidents Involving Death or Personal Injuries – Duties 

(1) The driver of any vehicle directly involved in an accident resulting in injury to, serious bodily injury to, or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close to the scene as possible or shall immediately return to the scene of the accident. The driver shall then remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of section  42-4-1603(1). Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

(1.5) It shall not be an offense under this section if a driver, after fulfilling the requirements of subsection (1) of this section and of section  42-4-1603(1), leaves the scene of the accident for the purpose of reporting the accident in accordance with the provisions of sections  42-4-1603(2) and  42-4-1606 .

(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits:

(a) A class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense if the accident resulted in injury to any person;

(b) A class 4 felony if the accident resulted in serious bodily injury to any person;

(c) A class 3 felony if the accident resulted in the death of any person.

(3) The department shall revoke the driver’s license of the person so convicted.

(4) As used in this section and sections  42-4-1603 and  42-4-1606 :

(a) “Injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition.

(b) “Serious bodily injury” means injury that involves, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree

Here is a LINK to the Penalties for the different classes of felonies in Colorado:

Stop And Render Aid – Identify Yourself As The Driver

To understand this issue – you must next look at Colorado’s definition of the term “driver.”

Colorado’s Uniform Motor Vehicle Law defines a “ driver” as a person ” who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle.” § 42-1-102(27), C.R.S. Section 42-4-1603(1) repeatedly identifies the duty of ” the driver” of a vehicle involved in an accident where an accident resulting in damage or injury occurs, ” [t]he driver ” of an involved vehicle must stop, render aid as reasonable and necessary, and must provide ” the driver’s name,” ” the driver’s address,” and the registration number of ” the vehicle he or she is driving. ” § 42-4-1603(1).

But here’s the issue – many Colorado citizens panic and leave the scene of an accident. Without addressing the legality or morality of that decision – the question arises – what happens next?

If you do not identify yourself as the driver  – or someone else falsely identifies themselves as the driver – they can be charged with the Colorado crime of false reporting.

But IF the state can prove that you were the driver – as in the Hernandez case – YOU will be charged with Felony Hit and Run. I repeat  – IF the state can prove YOU were the driver.  Here – the girlfriend – who initially lied about the driver – “made” the DA’s case for Felony Hit and Run and at the same time exposed herself to the False Reporting charge…

So What Is The Colorado Crime of False Reporting?

It has been said  that the crime of false reporting penalizes those who provide untruthful information to public officials.

§ 18-8-111.  False Reporting to Authorities 

(1) A person commits false reporting to authorities, if:

(a) He or she knowingly:

(I) Causes by any means, including but not limited to activation, a false alarm of fire or other emergency or a false emergency exit alarm to sound or to be transmitted to or within an official or volunteer fire department, ambulance service, law enforcement agency, or any other government agency which deals with emergencies involving danger to life or property; or

(II) Prevents by any means, including but not limited to deactivation, a legitimate fire alarm, emergency exit alarm, or other emergency alarm from sounding or from being transmitted to or within an official or volunteer fire department, ambulance service, law enforcement agency, or any other government agency that deals with emergencies involving danger to life or property; or

(b) He makes a report or knowingly causes the transmission of a report to law enforcement authorities of a crime or other incident within their official concern when he knows that it did not occur; or

(c) He or she makes a report or knowingly causes the transmission of a report to law enforcement authorities pretending to furnish information relating to an offense or other incident within their official concern when he or she knows that he or she has no such information or knows that the information is false; or

(d) He or she knowingly provides false identifying information to law enforcement authorities.

(2) False reporting to authorities is a class 3 misdemeanor; except that if it is committed in violation of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section and committed during the commission of another criminal offense, it is a class 2 misdemeanor.

(3) For purposes of this section, “identifying information” means a person’s name, address, birth date, social security number, or driver’s license or Colorado identification number.  

The Colorado Crime of False Reporting C.R.S § 18-8-111 Is A Crime Punishable By Jail

The Mechanism Behind The Decision To Lie

Obviously – as a Denver Colorado criminal defense attorney – I do not advise individuals to lie to the police – but IF the decision to leave the scene of an accident has already been made – the individual should seek the advice of a competent Colorado criminal defense lawyer to weigh all of their options before deciding to contact the authorities and confess their act. 

Experienced Colorado criminal defense attorneys understand the burden of proof that is placed on the State of Colorado in every criminal case. That burden of proof never shifts to the accused. If ultimately it is the client’s decision to “turn themselves in ” these lawyers can sometimes plea bargain – negotiate with prosecutors for various diversion program options that may avoid a  permanent criminal record.

Every case is different and will depend on the facts of that case.

call our law firm if you have questions about ..

The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601

H. Michael Steinberg has been a Colorado criminal law specialist attorney for 30 years (as of 2012). For the first 13 years of his career, he was an Arapahoe – Douglas County District Attorney Senior  prosecutor. In 1999 he formed his own law firm for the defense of Colorado criminal cases.

In addition to handling tens of thousands of cases in the criminal trial courts of Colorado, he has written hundreds of articles regarding the practice of Colorado criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Various National and Local Newspapers and Radio Stations.  Please call him at your convenience at 720-220-2277. 

If you have questions about The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601 in the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg will be pleased to answer those questions and will also provide quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado with adult and juvenile criminal matters as regards ….The Colorado Crime of Hit and Run With Injuries 42-4-1601.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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