The Supreme Court rendered the 190-Tai-Shang-2201 Decision of May 21, 2020 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that if a driver of a motor vehicle who causes the injury or death of another person intentionally fees the scene of an accident, even though he/she does so after foreseeing or believing that rescue will be provided with the assistance of another person, the offense of hit-and-run death or injury is still established.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, when driving a private passenger vehicle (hereinafter, “Vehicle A at Issue”), the Appellant collided with an original heavy-duty motorcycle (hereinafter, “Vehicle B at Issue”) ridden by X, causing X to fall to the ground and sustain injuries such as facial injuries, open lip wounds, bruises and contusions on the right knee. However, even though the Appellant was aware that Vehicle A at Issue, which he drove, caused the injuries of another person and got off the vehicle to check, still he left the scene without leaving contact information such as his name and telephone number, out of the criminal intent to flee from a hit-and-run accident, since he had been wanted for another case. He was subsequently indicted by the prosecutor.
According to the Decision, the legislative objective of the offense of hit-and-run death or injury under Article 185-4 of the Criminal Code is to penalize a hit-and-run driver so that the driver can provide immediate rescue to the victim after the accident to reduce deaths and injuries. Such offense is an abstract danger offense. Based on the extensive observations from the general life experience of lawmakers, they assumed that a hit-and-run act is a highly dangerous act that may cause death or injury if immediate rescue is not provided. Therefore, hit-and-run is regulated as a criminal offense in order to protect public safety. Therefore, in case an actor driving a motor vehicle causes an accident which results in death or injury, if the actor intentionally flees the scene of the accident, the benefit of immediate rescue to the dead or injured is violated, regardless of whether the actor does or does not (can or cannot) foresee or believe if the dead or injured can obtain timely rescue, this has no bearing on the establishment of this offense. Even if an actor leaves only after foreseeing or believing that the dead or injured can be rescued with the assistance of another person, this offense is still established.
It was further indicated in this Decision that the original decision expounded very clearly the reasons why the Appellant deliberated fled from the scene and indicated that even if the Appellant left only after he had foreseen or believed that X could be rescued with the assistance of another person, still this would have no bearing on the establishment of the offense. Therefore, it is not appropriate to conclude that the Appellant’s act does not constitute the hit-and-run offense under Article 185-4 of the Criminal Code on the ground that fire department people had arrived at the scene to provide rescue. The arguments are not unlawful, and there is no legal violation as alleged in the gist of the appeal. Therefore, the appeal was obviously baseless.