Displaying items by tag: Compromise of Misdemeanor

December 09, 2018

Hit and Run

In Washington, the crime of Hit and Run can be either a Simple Misdemeanor or a Gross Misdemeanor, depending on the way the crime is charged. The factor that determines if it is the more serious charge (Gross Misdemeanor) is whether the defendant hit an attended vehicle. A description of each charge is as follows:

Hit and Run – Attended Vehicle

This is the more serious of the two misdemeanor level charges. It is a Gross Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A conviction to this offense also leads to a one year license suspension from the Department of Licensing.

The Elements

1. The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person [shall immediately move the vehicle to the nearest suitable location] and remain at this location until the driver has provided his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number and vehicle license number and exhibit his or her driver’s license number.

2. Any driver … failing to stop or to comply with any of the requirements listed above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

In simple terms, if an individual strikes another vehicle that is occupied, they must immediately stop and exchange all relevant contact and insurance information. This is true even if you are not at fault!

Other Collateral Consequences of “Attended”

As mentioned above, a conviction will result in a one year loss of license. While the person is serving the term of their loss of license, they will be allowed to obtain an Occupational or Restricted License. In addition, for individuals with a CDL, there will most likely be a consequence to their privilege to operate a commercial vehicle. There are ways to resolve a Hit and Run Attended without all of these negative consequences, but that will be outlined after the section on Hit and Run Unattended, because these more favorable ways to resolve a case often apply to both Attended and Unattended.

Hit and Run – Unattended Vehicle or Other Property

This is the lesser of the two offenses. It is a Simple Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Elements

(1) The operator of any vehicle which collided with any other vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator of owner of such vehicle [providing the owner of the struck vehicle your name and address]

(2) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property … adjacent to a public highway shall take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner … of such fact and of the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle striking such property, or shall leave in a conspicuous place upon the property struck a written notice [providing the owner your name and address…

In simple terms, a person who collides with an unattended vehicle, or property that is adjacent to the roadway must stop and either locate the owner of such property or leave in a conspicuous place a note providing all of your relevant information.

Other Collateral Consequences of “Unattended”

Unlike Hit and Run Attended, Unattended DOES NOT result in a suspension or revocation of a person’s drivers license. However, a conviction of this charge will most likely increase your insurance rates. Lastly, for the driver with a CDL, an Unattended will most likely result in a CDL disqualification, just as it does for an Attended. 

Hit and Run – Ways to Resolve

For both Hit and Run – Attended and Hit and Run – Unattended, many of the potential resolutions of the charges are the same. The attorneys at Witt Law Group are always looking to avoid a conviction when resolving a case, thus avoiding all the negative consequences that were discussed above.

Common ways that we avoid convictions for our clients are through two different instruments, 1. a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement (or PDA), or 2. a Compromise of Misdemeanor. Typically, both will achieve the end result of dismissal of the charge.

Our website offers an in-depth analysis of both the PDA and the Compromise of Misdemeanor. To learn more about each, click the following links:

Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement

Compromise of Misdemeanor

Drivers who receive these charges often think this charge is going to be the end of the world. That is not the case. Our attorneys have been handling these cases for nearly two decades and the results are often surprisingly positive. Witt Law Group is a Hit and Run defense law firm with locations in Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington. Please reach out if you have been charged or have any question about this topic.

If you were involved in an accident in the middle of the night (attended or unattended), give our office a call immediately. There may be action that you can take to avoid the crime entirely or create an absolute defense if the crime is later charged.

If your Hit and Run is charged as a Felony, the above analysis does not apply. Call our office to discuss the specifics.

To Learn More, Watch Our Hit And Run Video, Below 

Published in Criminal Defense

I did something really stupid and was charged with a crime. Can I just pay the person back and make it go away?

The closest thing to being able to “make it go away” is what in Washington is called a Compromise of Misdemeanor. Upon the completion of a couple simple steps, it does end with the criminal case being dismissed.

The Compromise of Misdemeanor is a mechanism in our Criminal Code that allows us in most cases, excluding DUI and DV, to pay the willing victim back and compensate them for their cost and trouble. In essence, you (or your attorney) need to communicate with the victim in the crime (unless there is a No Contact Order or Condition of Release) and see if they are interested in such a resolution.

I want to shake hands and have this go away!

Three things must happen for this type of resolution to end in a dismassal. 

1. The victim needs to agree and be supportive of such a resolution. The victim needs to fill out a Declaration stating that they have been “compensated” and made whole, and that they further agree that they waive all further civil remedies based on the alleged criminal act. Meaning – they need to agree that they give up their ability to sue the Defendant civilly at any point in the future. 

2. Money, or something of value needs to change hands between the defendant and the victim. An attorney can and should act as a go-between. 

3. Once the Declaration of the victim is filed with the Court, a Judge needs to sign an “Order on Compromise”. This is the document that ultimately dismisses the case.

RCW 10.22.010 - The Elements:

Below is the exact wording of the Statute. As you can see, not many case types are excluded. 

When a defendant is prosecuted in a criminal action for a misdemeanor, other than a violation of RCW 9A.48.105, (which has to do with gang activity) for which the person injured by the act constituting the offense has a remedy by a civil action, the offense may be compromised as provided in RCW 10.22.020, except when it was committed:

(1) By or upon an officer while in the execution of the duties of his or her office;

(2) Riotously;

(3) With an intent to commit a felony; or

(4) By one family or household member against another as defined in RCW 10.99.020 and was a crime of domestic violence as defined in RCW 10.99.020.

A short list of case types that are not excluded are: Assault, Theft, Trespassing, Hit and Run, Malicious Mischief, Indecent Exposure and Harassment. This is not an exhaustive list, and more often than not, cases can be "compromised."

Once the “Order on Compromise” is signed, the case is over.

At this point, the case will show as a Dismissal on your criminal history. So – aside from a Not Guilty verdict, this is as close as you can come to making a bad choice “go away.”

At Witt Law Group PS, we have made many, many cases “go away” by facilitating a Compromise of Misdemeanor. It is not applicable to all cases, but certainly a large number can be handled this way. It is the resolution that probably produces the least amount of stress on the criminal defendant.

We would be glad to happy to handle your criminal case for you and we have offices in Poulsbo, Gig Harbor and Bremerton for your convenience. Our attorneys handle criminal defense cases all over Western Washington including Kitsap County and Pierce County. You can call us at (253) 312-3838 (Gig Harbor) or (360) 792-1000 (Bremerton), or just CLIKE HERE to fill out our on line contact form. We can even be reached afterhours or on the weekends. Don’t let a criminal case ruin your days – let us handle it and see if we can make it “go away.” Thank you for reading.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog