Vehicle Code section 20002(a), “Hit and Run Causing Property Damage,” Case Completely Dismissed Per Civil Compromise, Penal Code section 1377/1378

Our client was recently charged with violating Vehicle Code section 20002(a), “Hit and Run Causing Property Damage” after sideswiping a vehicle on the freeway while driving a motorcycle. Our client failed to stop at the scene of the accident or exchange information with the other party, as required by law.

At the court hearing, we negotiated with the prosecution to allow our client to seek a civil compromise pursuant to Penal Code section 1377. According to Penal Code section 1377 and Penal Code section 1378, under certain circumstances, if the person injured by an act constituting a misdemeanor appears before the court and acknowledges that he or she has received satisfaction from the injury, the court may, in its discretion, order the proceedings stayed and discharge the defendant from the case.

Recent case law has called into question whether civil compromises are still available to dispose of hit and run cases given the holding in People v. Dimacali (2019) 32 Cal. App. 5th 822. We argued to the prosecution that under the holding in People v. Tischman (1995) 35 Cal. App. 4th 174, defendant’s charged with Vehicle Code section 20002(a), “Hit-and-Run Causing Property Damage,” offenses have been able to dispose of cases by way of civil compromise pursuant to the provisions of Penal Code section 1377. According to the reasoning in Tischman, “so long as the civil cause of action shares a common element with the criminal offense, compromise is available, subject to the court’s discretion to reject a compromise where extenuating circumstances warrant rejection.” Thus, subject to the court’s approval, if a victim in a hit-and-run case is fully compensated for the loss and is not desirous of prosecution, a defendant can still seek dismissal.

In this matter, we communicated with the complaining witness to determine whether he would be interested in pursuing a civil compromise, which he was. We then coordinated with the client and the complaining witness to ensure that the complaining witness received full satisfaction for the harm and presented the court with proof that the complaining witness was amenable to dismissal of the charges against the defendant. The court accepted the civil compromise and dismissed the case pursuant to Penal Code section 1378.

This is a great result for our client that results in a dismissal of the charges!

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