Thursday, September 15, 2016

I Got a Hit and Run Letter from the DC Police, What Should I do?

When an individual is suspected of having been involved in a leaving after colliding, or "hit and run," offense, a law enforcement agency, usually the Metropolitan Police Department, will send a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle involved in the accident.  The letter will state that the owner of the vehicle is required to report to a particular police precinct on a specific date and time for an interview with a detective or other officer.  The letter asks the owner to bring various information with them, including proof of insurance and registration.  The letter also demands the owner be prepared to inform the police who had access to the vehicle when the accident occurred and specifically who was driving the vehicle.  The letter ends by making an empty threat that if the owner does not report to the police with the required information "a warrant may issue for your arrest."  

The last sentence of the letter is designed to scare people into freely interviewing with the police and giving up their 5th amendment right not to incriminate themselves.  The police 100% CANNOT obtain an arrest warrant simply because you refuse to cooperate with their investigation.  The statement that if you do not appear "a warrant may issue for your arrest" is only true if the police are able to establish probable cause that you actually committed the crime of hit and run.  Again, someones refusal to waive their 5th amendment can never be an independent basis for an arrest warrant.

 It is imperative that if you receive a hit and run letter from the police that you contact an experienced and knowledgeable Washington, DC hit and run lawyer.  Although each case is different, in an overwhelming majority of hit and run cases the best strategy is to not cooperate with law enforcement.  Most of the time in any hit and run crime, identification of the driver is a major hurdle for law enforcement.  Just because the police know who owns the car very rarely provides them with definitive identification of who was driving it at the time of the accident.  By giving up your 5th Amendment right not to incriminate yourself and by providing the police with the identity of the driver, you are doing their job for them.  Do not do their job for them.  

Even if you believe you are "innocent" it is still generally not advisable to speak to the police.  The police are trained to manipulate the statements of innocent suspects and use those manipulated statements against them at trial.  Further, the police usually do not care what you have to say about the facts of the case.  The police simply want you to admit that you or someone you know was driving the car at the time of the accident so they can satisfy any issues related to identity and strengthen the prosecution.  

Even in the rare instance where speaking to the police is advisable (perhaps if you can prove you and your vehicle were not involved), it is still extremely important to hire an experienced Washington, DC hit and run lawyer to help guide you and to ensure the police do not manipulate you.

If you or a loved one has received a hit and run letter from the police contact Sean J. Farrelly to discuss your case.  Sean has represented dozens of individuals facing hit and run charges and he can help you to avoid charges.

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