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).