647-228-5969
     *2022 Results: Approx. 99% of Mark Zinck's clients avoided a criminal record (conviction) for charges of theft, fraud, assault, mischief and threats.

Failure to stop after an accident / fail to remain charges under Section 320.16 of the Criminal Code of Canada

If you are driving and are involved in a motor vehicle accident involving another person there is a legal obligation to remain at the scene and exchange your name and insurance information with the other party involved. Failure to stop or remain at the scene of an accident is a criminal offence in Canada that is codified in Section 320.16 of the Criminal Code (CC), which reads:

Failure to stop after accident
  • 320.16 (1) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance and who at the time of operating the conveyance knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the conveyance has been involved in an accident with a person or another conveyance and who fails, without reasonable excuse, to stop the conveyance, give their name and address and, if any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.

What is the maximum punishment if someone is found guilty of failing to stop after an accident under s. 320.16 (1)?

The maximum punishment for failure to stop at the scene of an accident is 10 years in prison and a permanent criminal record in cases that do not involve death or bodily harm as per CC s. 320.19 (1).

What if I didn’t know I hit someone (unaware the accident occurred)?

The law is worded so that the driver is criminally liable if they knew or ought to have known they were involved in an accident. While some cases are obvious (vehicles sustained substantial damage), others are less so in this regard. If a driver hits a pedestrian sometimes they may claim they were unaware that an accident occurred or thought they hit an animal or something else.

If the issue is whether the driver knew about the accident or ought to have (was reckless) the court will examine the evidence and decide. Evidence will include statements from any eye witnesses including any alleged victims as to what happened. The court will be looking at factors such as the time of day (light or dark), road markings, vehicle damage and injuries sustained, clothes worn (pedestrian cases), and in general the totality of what happened.

Aggravating factors that can make failure to stop/remain charges even worse (are aggravating)

Cases where there is intent to flee the scene to avoid personal liability and responsibility for the accident are considered worse.

When a driver flees the scene of an accident, fails to stop, or refuses to provide their information they may be doing so because they do not want to be held liable for their actions. Car accidents carry both potential civil and criminal liabilities. In the most innocent of cases the driver may be concerned about the impact it will have on their insurance rates or insurability. They may have panicked in the heat of the moment.

Other more egregious cases will involve drivers who knew they are were not supposed to be on the road due to factors such as:
  1. their license being suspended or they are not licenced
  2. they are driving a stolen vehicle
  3. they are driving while impaired by alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs
  4. they are in possess of stolen property, drugs, weapons or other illegal contraband at the time
  5. they have a warrant for their arrest or are otherwise wanted by the police for something unrelated.
Other aggravated cases involve drivers who flee the scene after realizing the extent of the damage or personal injury (or death) caused by the accident itself. The Criminal Code has specific provisions with increased penalties for cases resulting in bodily harm or death in Sections 320.16 (2) and 320.16 (3) respectively, which read:

Accident resulting in bodily harm
  • 320.16 (2) Everyone commits an offence who commits an offence under subsection (1) and who at the time of committing the offence knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the accident resulted in bodily harm to another person.
Accident resulting in death
  • 320.16 (3) Everyone commits an offence who commits an offence under subsection (1) and who, at the time of committing the offence, knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the accident resulted in the death of another person or in bodily harm to another person whose death ensues.
Situations involving bodily harm or death are specifically codified so that heightened penalties can be imposed upon conviction. Cases involving bodily harm are punishable by up to 14 years in prison as per CC s. 320.2. The maximum punishment in cases involving death is life in prison as per CC s. 320.21.

Defending charges for failure to stop at an accident in court. How a criminal lawyer can poke holes in the Crown's case against you.

Like any criminal charge the accused puts themselves in the best possible position by immediately hiring a lawyer and exercising their right to remain silent. The burden is always on the Crown to prove their case. Sometimes it can be difficult to prove that the accused was actually the person driving (wrongly identified) or that they knew an accident occured. If they talk to the police and admit to driving or anything else they may be providing evidence of essential elements of the Crown’s case that would otherwise be impossible to prove.

Cases involving bodily harm or injuries may show no damage on the driver’s vehicle whatsoever. An accused could easily be misidentified especially if they are driving a non-distinct vehicle in a busy area. There may be 3rd party witnesses whose statements contradict each other. An alleged victim may also be lying to attempt to gain an advantage in a civil personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes people are intentionally falsely accused out of revenge or for other personal reasons.

Inaccurate witness statements, exaggerations, and inconsistencies that can help the accused.

Motor vehicle accidents arise in circumstances where substantial money may be awarded to injured parties via personal injury lawsuits. An alleged victim may exaggerate, lie about, or intentionally leave out parts of the story in hopes of collecting a large cash settlement. They may not want to be personally held at fault or partially at fault for what happened and may lie to help their case. The stories of such individuals can sometimes break down over time to the benefit of the accused.

When the story of the complainant changes over time this can damage their credibility on the witness stand if the case goes to trial. The alleged victim may also have a history of making false insurance claims in the past, or have been caught lying about their injuries by a private investigator, which can severely damage the reliability of their evidence (testimony) in court. The Crown Attorney may also decide that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction and withdraw (drop) the charges prior to trial.

Failure to stop or remain at the scene of an accident is an extremely serious, life altering criminal charge particularly if injuries are alleged.

If found guilty, the accused will receive a criminal record at a minimum and often will be subject to a jail sentence. Given the substantial financial and other motivations of alleged victims in some cases they may try to throw the accused ‘under the bus’ for their own personal gain.

Do not let this happen to you. If you have been charged (received a Form 9 Appearance Notice, Form 10 Undertaking, or Form 11 Release Order) with any form of failure to stop/remain at the scene of an accident, stand up for yourself and give us a call today to discuss your options. Criminal case results are usually permanent and now is the time to try to get ahead of the allegations, particularly if they are false or exaggerated claims are being made against you.



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Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance about avoiding jail and/or a criminal record, employment background checks, IRCC/immigration applications and status, or travel to the U.S. in the future. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

We only can respond to calls and emails relating to current Ontario criminal cases. Please see our FAQ for a listing of the courthouses we service.


Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a criminal case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.

*2022 Results: the percentage of 99% of clients avoiding a criminal record (conviction) stated on this page is based solely on Lawyer Mark Zinck's personal representation of approximately 2000 criminal defence case clients as of the year 2022. Past results are not necessarily an indication of future results.


 

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   We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice and services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel