On January 5 of this year, a 32-year-old woman allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian in Rosemead; news reports indicate she was driving without headlights. Janet Bowman, driver of the SUV that struck and killed Qingrong Chai, turned herself into authorities after fleeing the scene of the accident.
The tragic accident occurred at approximately 7 p.m. in the area of Marshall Street and Greendale Avenue at an intersection. Witnesses told authorities that the SUV’s headlights were not on. Chai, who was 70 years old, died at the scene immediately following the accident. Bowman is scheduled to go to court in February. While news reports do not indicate the charges Bowman may face, it’s possible she will be charged with felony hit-and-run.
When an individual leaves the scene of an accident without identifying him- or herself to others who are involved, that individual may be charged with hit-and-run. Under California law, those involved in a car accident which results in injury or death are required to stop at the scene immediately. If you are the one who caused the accident and someone other than yourself suffered injuries or lost his or her life, prosecutors may decide to charge you with a felony offense, which typically involves more serious criminal penalties for those convicted than a misdemeanor charge.
While stopping at the scene is required by law, there are other requirements as well. Those who are responsible for the accident must provide “reasonable assistance” to any who are injured (another driver, bicyclist, pedestrian, motorcyclist, etc.) and provide identification to law enforcement or others involved.
Because the victim in this situation lost her life, Bowman may face a prison sentence of 24 to 48 months if indeed she is charged with felony hit-and-run and convicted of that crime. Other penalties which may apply include fines of up to $10,000. Those who are convicted of a criminal offense will also have a criminal record which can impact employment, professional licenses, and more.
It is vital those charged with hit-and-run consult with an experienced and aggressive Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away. Your lawyer will work to limit the damage, ultimately fighting to prevent a conviction and the resulting criminal penalties. In situations where the evidence is overwhelming and strongly supports a conviction, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with prosecutors so that criminal penalties are reduced.