ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Eight of the over 700 hit-and-runs in 2013 include people who were left to die on Rockford streets. State's attorney Joe Bruscato tells 23 News today leaving the scene is the worst thing to do in that situation.
Bruscato says if you hit something or someone and aren't at fault, the moment you drive off instead of stopping and helping or waiting for police, you just became a criminal.
We've seen families gathering to remember loved ones a lot this year throughout the Stateline. Rockford suffered eight fatal hit-and-run accidents in 2013. Bruscato says people usually run after those accidents to either avoid being caught or because they panic and don't know what else to do and penalties can range from a misdemeanor charge which carries a $2500 fine and maybe a year in jail to a felony charge, $10,000 fine and a few years in prison.
"The circumstance could be such that you are absolutely not at fault but you create criminal liability. You create the criminal justice system coming after you for offenses when you chose to not stop, to not help anybody," Bruscato says.
Bruscato says he's come across a number of people throughout the years that he could tell drove off after hitting someone or something out of panic and wants people to understand that you could face no charges or penalties if what happened was not your fault... but that's only if you don't run.
Bruscato says his office does take into consideration when someone turns themselves in after a hit-and-run but still even then, criminal charges are inevitable and you will be prosecuted.