Hit and Run Laws in


27-53-101. Requirements in accidents involving death or personal injuries.

(a)(1) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident, or as close thereto as possible, but shall then immediately return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of § 27-53-103.

(2) Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

(3) An accident of this nature shall include all accidents which occur upon the streets or highways, upon the parking area of private business establishments, or elsewhere throughout the state.

(b)(1) Any person failing to comply with subsection (a) of this section or with § 27-53-103 shall, upon conviction, be deemed guilty of a Class D felony.

(2) The commissioner shall revoke the driver's license or commercial driver's license of the person so convicted.

History. Acts 1937, No. 300, § 36; Pope's Dig., § 6694; Acts 1981, No. 918, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 75-901; Acts 1987, No. 88, § 1; 1995, No. 659, § 4.

27-53-103. Duty to give information and render aid.

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to, or death of, any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give his name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving. Upon request and if available, the driver shall exhibit his driver's license or commercial driver's license to the person struck, or the driver or occupant of, or person attending, any vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if transporting is requested by the injured person.

History. Acts 1937, No. 300, § 38; Pope's Dig., § 6696; A.S.A. 1947, § 75-903; Acts 1995, No. 659, § 5.

5-4-401. Sentence.

(a) A defendant convicted of a felony shall receive a determinate sentence according to the following limitations:

(1) For a Class Y felony, the sentence shall be not less than ten (10) years and not more than forty (40) years, or life;

(2) For a Class A felony, the sentence shall be not less than six (6) years nor more than thirty (30) years;

(3) For a Class B felony, the sentence shall be not less than five (5) years nor more than twenty (20) years;

(4) For a Class C felony, the sentence shall be not less than three (3) years nor more than ten (10) years;

(5) For a Class D felony, the sentence shall not exceed six (6) years;

(6) For an unclassified felony, the sentence shall be in accordance with the limitations of the statute defining the felony.

(b) A defendant convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced according to the following limitations:

(1) For a Class A misdemeanor, the sentence shall not exceed one (1) year;

(2) For a Class B misdemeanor, the sentence shall not exceed ninety (90) days;

(3) For a Class C misdemeanor, the sentence shall not exceed thirty (30) days;

(4) For an unclassified misdemeanor, the sentence shall be in accordance with the limitations of the statute defining the misdemeanor.

History. Acts 1975, No. 280, § 901; 1977, No. 474, § 3; 1981, No. 620, § 8; 1983, No. 409, § 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 41-901.

5-1-109. Statute of limitations.

(a) A prosecution for murder may be commenced at any time.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, prosecutions for other offenses must be commenced within the following periods of limitation after their commission:

(1) Class Y and Class A felonies, six (6) years, except rape, § 5-14-103, for which the period of limitation may be extended to fifteen (15) years during which extended time a prosecution for rape may be commenced if based upon forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing or other tests which may become available through advances in technology;

(2) Class B, C, or D, or unclassified felonies, three (3) years; and

(3) Misdemeanors or violations, one (1) year.

(c) If the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:

(1) Any offense involving either fraud or breach of a fiduciary obligation, within one (1) year after the offense is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is himself or herself not a party to the offense; and

(2) Any offense that is concealed involving felonious conduct in office by a public servant at any time within five (5) years after he or she leaves public office or employment, or within five (5) years after the offense is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered, whichever is sooner, but in no event shall this provision extend the period of limitation by more than ten (10) years after the commission of the offense.

(d) A defendant may be convicted of any offense included in the offense charged, notwithstanding that the period of limitation has expired for the included offense, if as to the offense charged the period of limitation has not expired or there is no such period, and there is sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for the offense charged.

(e)(1) For the purposes of this section, an offense is committed either when every element occurs or, if a legislative purpose to prohibit a continuing course of conduct plainly appears, at the time the course of conduct or the defendant's complicity therein is terminated.

(2) Time starts to run on the day after the offense is committed.

(f) A prosecution is commenced when an arrest warrant or other process is issued based on an indictment, information, or other charging instrument, provided that such warrant or process is sought to be executed without unreasonable delay.

(g) The period of limitation does not run:

(1) During any time when the accused is continually absent from the state or has no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, but in no event shall this provision extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than three (3) years; or

(2) During any period when a prosecution against the accused for the same conduct is pending in this state.

(h) If the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for violations of the following offenses if, when the alleged violation occurred, the offense was committed against a minor, the violation has not previously been reported to a law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney, and the period prescribed in subsection (b) of this section has not expired since the victim has reached the age of eighteen (18):

(1) Battery in the first and second degrees as prohibited in §§ 5-13-201 and 5-13-202;

(2) Aggravated assault as prohibited in § 5-13-204;

(3) Terroristic threatening in the first degree as prohibited in § 5-13-301;

(4) Kidnapping as prohibited in § 5-11-102;

(5) False imprisonment in the first degree as prohibited in § 5-11-103;

(6) Permanent detention or restraint as prohibited in § 5-11-106;

(7) Rape as prohibited in § 5-14-103;

(8) Sexual assault in the first degree as prohibited in § 5-14-124;

(9) Sexual assault in the second degree as prohibited in § 5-14-125;

(10) Sexual assault in the third degree as prohibited in § 5-14-126;

(11) Sexual assault in the fourth degree as prohibited in § 5-14-127;

(12) Incest as prohibited in § 5-26-202;

(13) Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree as prohibited in § 5-27-203;

(14) Permitting abuse of a child as prohibited in § 5-27-221(a)(1) and (3);

(15) Engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium, transportation of minors for prohibited sexual conduct, use of a child or consent to use of a child in sexual performance, and producing, directing, or promoting sexual performance by a child, as prohibited in §§ 5-27-303, 5-27-305, 5-27-402, and 5-27-403;

(16) Criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy as prohibited in §§ 5-3-201, 5-3-202, 5-3-301, and 5-3-401 to commit any of the offenses listed in this subsection;

(17) Computer child pornography, § 5-27-603; and

(18) Computer exploitation of a child in the first degree, § 5-27-605.

(i) If there is biological evidence connecting a person with the commission of an offense and that person's identity is unknown, the prosecution is commenced if an indictment or information is filed against the unknown person and the indictment contains the genetic information of the unknown person, which is accepted to be likely to be applicable only to the unknown person.

History. Acts 1975, No. 280, § 104; 1981, No. 620, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 41-104; Acts 1987, No. 484, § 1; 1987, No. 586, § 1; 2001, No. 920, § 1; No. 1780, § 2; 2003, No. 1087, § 8; 2003, No. 1390, § 1.


Case Law


December 5, 2001

[NO. CR97-613, CR93-4B]




The appellant in this criminal case was on probation for offenses involving possession of a controlled substance when she was charged with negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Shortly after the information was filed on these charges, the State filed a petition to revoke appellant's probation. By agreement of the parties, the trial judge considered the evidence presented in appellant's jury trial for negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death as the same evidence the State would present in its petition for revocation. The jury found appellant guilty of both offenses. Appellant was fined $5,000 and sentenced to six years' imprisonment on the negligent homicide charge, and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on her conviction for leaving the scene of an accident involving death. In addition, the trial judge revoked appellant's probation, sentenced her to five additional years' imprisonment for each count for which she was on probation, and ordered that the sentences should all run consecutively. From that decision, comes this appeal.

On appeal, appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion for a directed verdict; in allowing into evidence autopsy photographs of the victim; and in ordering that the sentences were to run consecutively. We find no error, and we affirm.

A motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. In reviewing the denial of a motion for a directed verdict, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, considering only the evidence that supports the verdict, and affirm if there is substantial evidence to support the verdict. Rose v. State, 72 Ark. App. 175, 35 S.W.3d 365 (2000). Evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, is substantial if it is of sufficient force that it would compel a conclusion one way or the other without recourse to speculation and conjecture. Id.

Appellant argues that the jury could not have found that she was the person who struck and killed the victim without resort to speculation and conjecture. We do not agree. Appellant admitted at trial that she was driving while intoxicated on the night in question; that she drove on Highway 167 where the victim's body was found; and that she struck something on the road that night near El Dorado with sufficient force to spin her vehicle all the way around. She also stated that she was an alcoholic and subject to blackouts, and that she was so intoxicated she could not say whether what she hit that night was a vehicle, an animal, or a person.

There was, in addition, evidence that the victim was found dead the following morning three and one-half miles from El Dorado on Highway 167. The victim's death was caused by vehicular impact. Fragments of plastic from the grill of appellant's truck were found in the immediate vicinity. Paint matching that of the truck was found on the victim. Hair matching that of the victim was found on the exterior of appellant's truck. Fibers matching samples taken from the victim's clothing were likewise found on appellant's truck. A fabric impression in the dust on the bumper of appellant's truck was consistent with the victim's blue jeans.

Finally, there was evidence that appellant admitted to two separate persons on two separate occasions that she struck a man on Highway 167 on the night in question. The first statement was made during a telephone call to the police department. The victim's stepsister testified that appellant told her that she was the one who hit and killed the victim; that she hit two construction barrels, hit the victim, hit two more barrels, got out of her vehicle, saw the victim's body, and panicked and left the scene. Appellant denied making this statement, but this was a question of credibility for the jury to determine. In light of this evidence, we hold that there is substantial evidence to support appellant's convictions of negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Next, appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing autopsy photographs of the victim into evidence. At trial, the pathologist testified with reference to photographs taken at the autopsy he performed on the victim to determine cause of death. The pathologist stated that the photographs were helpful because they showed details that a drawing couldnot, especially with regard to bruising. On cross-examination, however, the pathologist allowed that the photographs were not strictly necessary to explain his testimony because he could instead employ drawings to show the location of the injuries. Appellant does not argue that the photos were gruesome, but advances the theory that autopsy photographs are inherently inflammatory and should never be used if some other manner of explaining the physician's testimony is available. We do not agree.

Appellant cites no authority for the proposition that such photographs must be absolutely necessary to be admissible, and that is not the law. The proper standard has been recently restated in Upton v. State, 343 Ark. 543, 36 S.W.3d 740 (2001):

Significantly, after applying the Rule 403 balancing test, we have held that even the most gruesome photographs may be admissible if they tend to shed light on any issue, to corroborate testimony, or if they are essential in proving a necessary element of a case, are useful to enable a witness to testify more effectively, or enable the jury to better understand the testimony. Other acceptable purposes are to show the condition of the victim's body, the probable type or location of the injuries, and the position in which the body was discovered. Obviously, when a photograph serves no valid purpose and could only be used to inflame the jury's passions, it should be excluded.

343 Ark. at 551.

Finally, appellant argues that the trial judge failed to exercise her discretion when she ordered the sentences to be served consecutively. This argument is based on the facts that the jury recommended that the sentences be served "separately," and that the trial judge stated that she thought that is what she was "required" to do.

The question of whether sentences should run consecutively or concurrently lies solely within the province of the trial court, and the appellant bears the heavy burden of demonstrating that the trial judge failed to exercise her discretion in ordering consecutive sentences. Teague v. State, 328 Ark. 724, 946 S.W.2d 670 (1997). The fact that the trial court considered the jury's recommendation does not establish that the trial judge failed to exercise her discretion in sentencing. Blagg v. State, 72 Ark. App. 32, 31 S.W.3d 872 (2000).

We think that the appellant has taken the trial judge's remarks out of context. According to the abstract, what the judge actually said was:

[I] am going to order that each of the sentences on each of the basically four separate counts run consecutively for an effective sentence of 21 years. This does not, of course, take into consideration good time. I don't make this decision lightly, but I do note in the record that Ms. Langston's probation was revoked at one other time. She was not sentenced to the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Judge Barnes gave her a break, extended her probation. I am just appalled at what got us here. I have just struggled with this as I listened to the evidence and believe that while she has made efforts in the past for rehabilitation, it hasn't worked. I do not know if this is for lack of trying or just an inability. I don't know. But I find that I just [don't] have a choice in this matter in my mind. I think this is the thing I am required [to do]. And so the sentences ... will be consecutive.

Read in context, we think it apparent that the judge knew that the choice between concurrent and consecutive sentencing was hers to make, and that she made it based upon relevant and appropriate factors such as the likelihood of rehabilitation in light of past efforts, and the danger to the public of setting appellant free in light of her propensity for driving whileintoxicated (she was arrested and convicted for another instance of driving while intoxicated while awaiting trial in the present case, and was convicted of public intoxication when she appeared in court inebriated on the DWI charge). There is no doubt that the trial judge exercised her discretion in ordering the sentences to be served consecutively, and that she did not abuse her discretion in so ordering.


Neal and Vaught, JJ., agree


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