Do Felony Hit and Run Cases Require Injuries More Than Muscle Pain? Ask the Arlington-Fairfax Attorney.

QUESTION:  I am charged with the felony “Hit and Run.”  The victim went to the hospital, but was told that her temporary back pain was the muscle – no broken bones.  Does this count as an “injury” to support the felony charge?

ANSWER:  In Virginia, for Hit & Run cases, “injury” is defined very broadly.  It includes muscle pain caused by the accident.

Virginia Code § 46.2-894 is one of the Hit & Run statutes.  The punishment depends on the consequences of the accident.  If no one is hurt and property damage is less than $1,000, the punishment is a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail).  However, if someone is “killed or injured,” the punishment rise to a whopping Class 5 felony (up to 10 years in prison).

One would think that combining the words “killed or injured,” the legislature intended a significant injury.  However, the Court of Appeals has held that the injury could simply be as minor as muscle pain.  Belew v. Commonwealth, No. 1168-10-2 (May 7, 2013).

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