What can happen after you leave the scene of an accident
Recently, we provided you with cautionary information regarding leaving the scene of an accident. Even if you are not at fault or no one appears injured, it is important that you stay at the accident scene. To do otherwise, could mean facing criminal charges. This was the basis of a new legal opinion decided by the New Jersey Appellate Division.
Recent Case Affirms Criminal Conviction
State of New Jersey v. Jean A. Sene, A-2256-13T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2015) deals with the issue of criminal charges related to leaving the scene of a fatal accident. In this case, Jean Sene was a taxi driver in Atlantic City. A pedestrian walked into his lane of traffic and then fell into the adjoining lane. Subsequently, a jitney bus struck and killed the pedestrian. Initially, it was unclear if the taxi had any contact with the decedent.
Mr. Sene did not stay at the accident scene. He did not stop and discuss the incident with anyone there or call the police for assistance. Instead, he drove the taxi away and parked it a block from the accident scene. Mr. Sene then walked back to the accident, but did not speak to the police about his involvement.
Technology puts a unique twist on accident reconstruction. While evaluating dash cam footage from the jitney bus, the state was able to identify Mr. Sene’s vehicle. (There was also video footage from some local businesses that caught the accident from other views.)
Mr. Sene contended that he was not required to stay at the accident scene because his vehicle did not make contact with the victim. This issue was disputed by the parties. Nevertheless, Mr. Sene was convicted of violating N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, which states, in relevant part:
A motor vehicle operator who knows he [or she] is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident under circumstances that violate the provisions of [N.J.S.A. 39:4-129] shall be guilty of a crime of the second degree if the accident results in the death of another person.
In short, the court found that it was irrelevant whether Mr. Sene’s taxi came in physical contact with the decedent. Mr. Sene knew he had some involvement with the accident and was obligated to speak with the police concerning it.
Another Recent Case
Every situation has its own set of circumstances. An off-duty Jersey City police officer was recently acquitted for charges concerning his involvement in a fatal automobile accident. According to news reports, one of the charges included leaving the scene of a fatal accident. You can read more about this particular matter and the state’s claims in this article.