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Can Felony Hit and Run Now Be Compromised?

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by: Ryan • March 1, 2011 • no comments

In my compilation of merger cases, I had written the following, which will now have to be changed:

Felony Hit and Run (probably merge, but no case on point) Same question as above: how many victims? Except here we already know the answer, though it's a bit counter-intuitive. In Felony Hit and Run (or Misdemeanor Hit and Run), the victim is "the state," not the person who is injured, because the crime is running away, not causing the injury. State v. Duffy, 33 Or App 301 (1978) and State v. Eastman/Kovach, 292 Or 184, 189-90, 637 P2d 609 (1981) Thus, four people injured, four counts of Felony Hit and Run, only one conviction.

However, today's COA opinions included one State v. Moncada, where the COA held that the person injured is the victim of felony hit and run. By doing so, they prevented merger of two counts involving two people injured in a single crash (Unless I overlooked it, this opinion does not mention either Duffy or Eastman/Kovach.)

Duffy said that hit and run could not be compromised because there was no civil remedy for the act of running away. However, we can compromise misdemeanor hit and run, because the legislature - following Duffy, I think, but I'm not positive - passed a statute specifically allowing compromises for misdemeanor hit and run. The legislature never explicitly excluded felony hit and run from being compromised, but they did not need to do so, since - again, relying on Duffy - everyone assumed the victim was the state.

"Civil compromise only applies, however, to crimes having "a discrete victim or victims" and not to offenses committed against the public at large, such as public indecency and reckless driving. Van Hoomissen, 125 Or App at 683; State v. Dugger, 73 Or App 109, 112-13, 698 P2d 491 (1985)." State v. Summerlin, 139 Or App 579

Further analysis needs to be done, something more in depth than this cursory reliance on my recollection, but if you've got a felony hit and run - C felony - you should give a civil compromise a shot. If the judge says he or she lacks the ability to grant the compromise, that decision can be appealed.