Tag Archives: criminal defense

Hit and Run Crashes on the Rise in Las Vegas

Dangerous city traffic situation

Hit and Run Crashes on the Rise in Las Vegas

Studies show that automobile accidents, specifically those involving fleeing the scene or hit and runs, have been on a steady increase on a national scale for the past few years now. To no surprise, hit and run incidents occurred most often in larger suburban cities. And more often than not, the fleeing suspect did so to evade stiff DUI/DWI charges.

In an effort to boost traffic safety and lower fatalities for motorist and pedestrians, the Nevada legislature was one of the first to propose bills that would make offenders think twice before fleeing the scene of an accident.

In March of 2015 the Nevada State Legislature introduced a bill that called for stiffer penalties on drivers who have left the scene of an automobile accident that resulted in serious bodily injury, property damage and/or death. The bill was passed and went into effect on October 1, 2015 as  NRS 484E.010.

NRS 484E.010 states that if you have been involved in an automobile accident that has resulted in bodily injury, property damage or death:

  • All parties should immediately stop his/her vehicle(s) at the scene of the crash, or as close as safely possible, and remain at the scene of the accident until all measures outlined in NRS 484.030 – Duty to Give Information and Render Aid – have been fulfilled
  • All stops must be made without further hindering traffic

Under this new law, a driver found fleeing the scene of an accident that has caused bodily injury, property damage and/or death will be penalized with a category B felony. Punishments mirror those placed on convicted DUI/DWI offenders and include:

  • a fine of no less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000; and a
  • mandatory sentence of two years served in state prison (maximum term set at 15 years)

Prior to the passing of this law, penalties in Nevada for fleeing the scene of an automobile accident resulting in property damage could be as miniscule as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum of six months in jail time.

Las Vegas “Hit and Run”  Cases Shock the Nation

Legislators have a valid purpose for proposing that “hit and run” laws have harsher penalties. Being only two months in to 2016, Las Vegas law enforcement has already responded to several fatal hit and run accidents.

On February 7th, 2016 North Las Vegas Police responded to a fatal hit and run. Witnesses of the event described the suspect as a middle aged man driving a white panel van who had struck an individual attempting to cross the street prior to fleeing the scene. The victim, two year old Evelyn Green, was rushed to North Vista hospital where she later died of her injuries. A suspect has not been identified.

The month prior to the death of Baby Evelyn, Lakeisha Holloway became one of the first individuals to be tried under NRS 484E.010 for a crime she committed in December 2015. Holloway was facing over 70 charges, including fleeing the scene of an accident, for repeatedly driving her 1996 Oldsmobile into the busy Las Vegas strip sidewalk at 30-40 miles per hour with her three year old child present in the vehicle. Holloway’s actions claimed the life of one pedestrian and severely injured nearly 40 others. Rather than stopping, Holloway fled approximately one mile from the scene before pulling over and calling 911. Toxicology reports later revealed that marijuana was found present in Holloway’s blood.

Since her arrest, Holloway has been held without bail at a Las Vegas jail. Holloway’s defense team recently announced that she planned to plead not guilty. She is scheduled to appear in court on February 18th, and if convicted Holloway could face over 1,000 years in prison.

With Las Vegas, Nevada – specifically the strip – being the most toured destination in the U.S. bringing in a record breaking 42 million visitors in 2015 alone, the news of these heinous crimes quickly spread and sparked nationwide outrage against hit and run cases.

Hit and Run Statistics

Statistics from the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol (NHP) released earlier this year shed insight on the rise of Hit and Run accidents within Las Vegas, Nevada. According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Transportation, overall traffic accidents resulting in deaths in 2015 increased by nearly 10 percent from the previous year for a total of 321 fatalities. To no surprise, this increase nearly doubled for Clark County at a soaring 18.9 percent (207 fatalities). Of the thousands of hit and run cases reported there were over 700 reported fatal hit and run instances in 2015 (including auto-pedestrian cases).

Though drunken driving fatalities in the Clark County area dropped by nearly 20 percent, studies found that drugs and alcohol are to blame for an overwhelming amount of automobile incidents involving a fleeing party.

Conclusion

If charged with a hit and run or fleeing the scene following an accident, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An individual charged with fleeing the scene may also face related charges, such as DUI or possession of a controlled substance.

Joel Mann is an experience, trial proven criminal defense attorney. He has extensive experience representing individuals facing charges of fleeing the scene and other criminal offenses. Call the Law Office of Joel M. Mann at (702) 474-6266 for a confidential attorney review of your case.

 

Supreme Court Hears Case on Whether Officer’s Mistake of Law Justifies Traffic Stop

Traffic ViolationThe U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday on Heien v. North Carolina, a case involving whether police officers can justify a traffic stop due to a reasonable belief of the law that is inaccurate. The case could have implications

In the case, an officer in North Carolina pulled over a driver who only had one brake light working. The brake light malfunction was cited as the reason for the stop. During the stop, the officer searched the car and found cocaine. The driver was charged with cocaine trafficking and cited for the broken brake light.

However, North Carolina law only requires a driver to have “a stop lamp.” It is not, therefore, against the law to driver with only one brake light working. The officer had made the stop on the basis of a mistaken belief about what the law says.

The case was appealed in state court. The appeals court found that the mistaken belief that the driver had committed a traffic violation did not warrant “objectively reasonable justification” for a traffic stop. The North Carolina Supreme Court disagreed, saying the officer’s mistake was “reasonable” and therefore justified reasonable suspicion.

The matter before the U.S. Supreme Court now is whether a perceived violation of the law can be sufficient grounds to give officers reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop. The implications of their decision could extend to whether a similar mistake could give probable cause to conduct a search or make an arrest.

If the Court rules that a mistake in law can lead to a reasonable suspicion, traffic stops would be significantly affected, as demonstrated by the case Heien is based upon. Traffic laws are complex, and it would be easy for a police officer to make a mistake about vehicle requirements or any of the other myriad laws that regulate motor vehicles and how they are operated under the law.

A traffic stop can lead to drug arrests, DUI arrests and many other criminal charges.

The implications may extend beyond traffic stops, though. Gun rights groups filed a brief siding with the defendant, in part because weapons laws are similarly technical and could lead to searches and stops based on officers’ mistakes on the law.

The case may have profound implications on police’s ability to make stops that often lead to arrests on more serious charges. According to observers, the justices seemed split on their leanings during oral arguments.

 

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