A Roslindale man has allegedly learned a criminal justice lesson on the topic of hit-and-run accidents. Namely, you can hit. You can run. But you cannot hide.
Colin Ratiu, 23 (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is the=is unfortunate driver according to the Commonwealth . He was arraigned in court yesterday after pleading “not guilty” to charges of leaving the scene of an accident after causing death, and motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation.
The accident happened in November. The Defendant was using someone else’s car and is said to have explained the damage on the vehicle by saying that when he had swerved to avoid a skunk, he ended up hitting…”something”.
In fact, what the car actually struck was a 24-year-old Northeastern University graduate driving home in a scooter. The scooter was thrown about 150 feet. The graduate was killed.
“He then proceeded to drive away without stopping,” the prosecutor told the judge yesterday.
Homicide detectives began the investigation immediately, but it was not until 89 days after the accident that an anonymous tip led them to the car that had allegedly been driven by the Defendant that fateful night. The damage on the vehicle was consistent with what they were looking for. Upon questioning, the vehicle’s owner told the detectives about the Defendant and his skunk story.
When the police went to question the Defendant, he is reported to have said, “I have a lawyer, and I don’t want to talk about it.”
In court, the defense did not address the allegations, but pointed out that members of the Defendant’s family were in court (showing strong community ties) and that the Defendant had had no prior criminal record and had not left the state and answered to police when he knew they were looking for him.
Bail was set at $7,500 cash.
Over my years as an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney, I have been contacted by various frightened people who seem to be exploring the idea of sitting back and ignoring the fact that the police or prosecutors are investigating them. My advice to them is generally the same as what I tell you. Get an experienced defense attorney involved as soon as possible. When you do, you can at least tell the police that you are only too happy to speak to them, but they have to get the green light from your attorney first.
This way, if no statement is given, it is the defense attorney who is the bad guy, not you.
Please note the difference between “go through my attorney, but I have nothing to hide” and “I have a lawyer, so get lost.”
Anyway, many of these calls from either people with outstanding arrest warrants or who have been involved in some kind of accident…and then kept going.
Often, these individuals figure that if the police have not already come banging down their door, then they are probably home free and so do not need any help.
This is generally a mistake.
First of all, as you can see from this story, the investigation does not stop simply because the driver is not yet caught.
Second, in most cases, particularly if there is damage on the vehicle, the more you wait the worse it will be. Every case is different, of course. However, if you contact the police, at least you can take some of the sting out of the leaving the scene. Perhaps you did not know you hit something until you got out of your car and saw the damage.
“But, Sam, what if you do not know if it was a car bumper or a living person you hit?”
It really does not matter in terms of leaving the scene. It is illegal whether a person was injured or killed or if it was simply property damage that was the result.
“What if you can tell that, at worse, it was a little scratch you may have left behind?”
It does not matter. The law indicates that any damage, “however slight” counts. You see, once you leave the scene, the damage is not really the issue anymore. It is the fact that you left the scene.
And, yes….the Commonwealth takes these cases quite seriously, even if the damage was slight.
So, if only to minimize damage to your liberty, it is best to get an experienced criminal defense attorney involved as soon as possible.
If you would like it discuss such a matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
To view the original story, please go to : http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/02/15/suspect_is__held_in__fatal_nov__hit_run/?p1=Local_Links