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Washington, DC Criminal Lawyer


Being accused of a crime, or even investigated for involvement in criminal activity, can drastically disrupt your life and potentially change the course of your future. With legal representation from an experienced Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer, you can preserve your rights and your freedom. Criminal defense attorney Jason Kalafat is committed to providing superior legal services and aggressive defense against an array of misdemeanor and felony criminal charges which will give you the confidence you need as you prepare to defend your legal record, and your future.

The sheer vastness of the legal field can be daunting. When it comes to the subset of criminal law, the seemingly endless variety of cases, and potential risks, can be frightening for those individuals who find themselves charged with such crimes. Most people have heard of misdemeanor and felony charges, but it can be hard to grasp the immense range of crimes that fall under those two categories, as well as the range of penalties that can result from these charges. Whether you’re looking at your first DUI charge or federal prosecution, it is important that you find a well-qualified and dedicated Washington, DC criminal defense attorney.

Frequently Prosecuted Charges

Driving under the influence is among the most common criminal charges doled out in the District. The term DUI strikes fear into most hearts and it’s a crime that is universally condemned. However, the vast majority of DUI cases don’t involve blatant disregard for safety, but rather stem from minor traffic violations and involve people who made the easy mistake of not realizing that extra glass of wine at dinner, or one more beer with the gang at happy hour after work, put them over the legal limit. DUI charges can run the gamut from misdemeanor to felony. No matter the severity of the DUI charge, they all have the potential to result in significant ramifications. An employer might deem a DUI conviction worthy of termination, and potential employers may view a DUI conviction as a sign of liability in new job recruits. You may find your driving privileges restricted or revoked, making it difficult to get to school or your place of work, or care for your daily needs. A dedicated DUI defense attorney understands that the first DUI charge is not only upsetting, it’s humiliating. That same attorney understands every subsequent DUI charge brings with it harsher penalties and the risk of devastating consequences.

Federal crimes are also frequently investigated and filed in the DC Metro region, and a conviction of a federal crime can carry some of the worst court-ordered penalties — from extensive prison terms to massive fines and restitution fees. These cases are heard in federal court, not state courts where caseloads are severely back-logged and where many judges and prosecutors are willing to work with defense attorneys on plea agreements and other positive resolutions in an effort to alleviate the heavy caseloads. Federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors typically do not suffer from those same crowded conditions, and they have an almost unlimited amount of resources at their disposal when it comes to prosecuting your case. Meanwhile, the mere investigation for a federal crime can carry heavy professional and social shame. Just being charged or accused of these crimes can forever alter your professional and personal paths. You need to ensure that you have a strong federal criminal defense attorney who is equally focused and dedicated to your case, and your rights.

If you have been charged with a crime in the District of Columbia, whether it be a misdemeanor DUI or a federal offense, it is critical that you retain a criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of winning cases similar to your own. You need an experienced defense lawyer who is able to handle your case, no matter how complicated it may be, in an efficient and effective manner, so that you can focus on maintaining and moving forward with your life. A knowledgeable Washington, DC criminal defense attorney will thoroughly scrutinize every facet of your case in the search for exonerating evidence as well as evidence of wrongdoing by authorities. A well-qualified DC criminal defense attorney will craft a defense strategy that can anticipate, and dismantle, serious obstacles before they arise in court. And a dedicated criminal defense lawyer will never stop working to protect your interests, whether it is pushing for a not guilty verdict or mitigating any exposure you may face if you are convicted. All these skills will not only benefit you in the courtroom, they will ease your fears and comfort you during a time that can be extremely challenging on both an emotional and psychological level. Never underestimate the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a skilled and aggressive Washington, DC criminal defense attorney fighting for you.

Practice Areas in Washington, DC:

Jason Kalafat is well-qualified to handle a variety of criminal cases, including misdemeanor, felony, DUI, and federal criminal charges.


In 2013, the District of Columbia adopted stricter standards and more stringent penalties for driving under the influence or DUI. The minimum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for which you can be automatically charged with driving while intoxicated is still 0.08 percent, although in certain instances a driver may have a BAC measuring less than 0.05 percent and still face criminal charges, per Section 50-2206.51. If you are operating a commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest or under the age of 21, you can be charged with a DUI for any measurable amount of alcohol and/or drugs in your bloodstream. That is because the BAC limits are only the limits for which the district is legally allowed to assume you were intoxicated without any other evidence. If there were other observable indicators that you were driving drunk, you may face charges even if your BAC was well below the legal level.

If you are convicted of DUI, the penalty for a first-time violation is a fine of $1,000 and a prison term of no longer than 180 days. If your BAC measures at least 0.20 but under 0.25, you face a mandatory ten-day minimum jail term. That minimum mandatory term increased to 15 days if your BAC measured at least 0.25 but less than 0.30 and 20 days if your BAC was was at least 0.30 and/or a 15-day minimum if your blood or urine analysis shows that you were under the influence of prescription or illicit drugs including, but not limited to, cocaine, morphine, methadone, and phencyclidine.

Driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated are criminal offenses and as such a conviction may result in various legal penalties such as fines, jail time, and probation, as well as administrative penalties including driver’s license suspension. Furthermore, a DUI conviction carries personal ramifications, such as restricted or revoked driving privileges, financial difficulties associated with higher insurance premiums, and a criminal record that can impact employment options, student status, and security clearance.

A lawyer who is dedicated to your defense, who is trained in the use of tools for prosecution, and who has a proven record of success is a vital ally in protecting yourself against DUI charges. For more information on the legal proceedings and possible penalties that you may face in a DUI-related charge, please click here.

DC Drug Charges

From misdemeanor marijuana possession to felony drug distribution, there is a range of criminal drug offenses for which one may be prosecuted in Washington, DC. A case of first offense simple drug possession may be successfully negotiated to a diversion program, but more serious felony drug crimes such as drug distribution require more vigorous defense strategies. Jason Kalafat will examine every aspect of your arrest and charge to find the best possible defense for your unique case. From illegal search and seizure to insufficient evidence, there are a number of strategies by which a high-caliber drug lawyer can challenge the state’s case against you.

To be convicted of drug possession in the District of Columbia, prosecutors must prove three separate and important facts of your case: that you were in possession of a substance, that the substance is a controlled or illegal substance, and that your possession of that substance was intentional.

If you are found to be guilty of drug possession, you could face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a 180-day prison term. The penalties for a conviction will increase if you have previous drug-related convictions on your record, or if it can be shown that you had distributed the substance or had the intent to distribute it.

DC Assault

The common use of the term assault typically refers to a physical act of violence, but to be convicted under District of Columbia law, you need only to exhibit the threat of force on another person that causes them to believe that they are in immediate danger. If that threat is eventually followed through on and there is an actual act of violence committed, the penalties for assault increase dramatically. Simple assault, which is tried as a misdemeanor, includes intent-to-frighten, attempted battery, and non-violent offensive touching. A conviction of any of these crimes could carry a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in prison.

If you are found guilty of assault with intent to kill, assault with a dangerous weapon, sexual assault, or other forms of aggravated assault, you could be convicted of a felony. The penalties for this type of conviction include a maximum fine of $25,000 and/or a maximum prison term of ten years or longer.

DC Sex Crimes

Being charged with a sex crime in the District of Columbia is among one of the most serious criminal offenses that can be levied against you. They not only come with the threat of incarceration of up to life in prison, in cases of first degree sexual abuse, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, in third, second, or first degree sexual abuse, but the mere charge can threaten your job and your family life, including issues of child custody. If the charges include allegations that the crime was inflicted upon a minor, the potential consequences become even more dire. No matter the charge you face, you will need to speak with a dedicated criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience in defending clients against allegations of sex crimes in DC. That lawyer is best-suited to combating all claims against you, and will work tenaciously to clear your name of all allegations and charges and achieve vindication in court. If the charges cannot be completely eliminated, that attorney will push for a reduction in the charges in an effort to mitigate any and all potential penalties. It’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, even if you believe you are merely under investigation but have not yet been formally charged.

Federal Crimes in DC

Federal crimes, many of which are often referred to as “white collar” offenses, are violations of federal law. Common federal charges include fraud, embezzlement, perjury, money laundering, identity theft, and even child pornography. If you are found to have committed one of these acts in violation of federal law, you could be charged and tried in a federal court as opposed to the Superior Court of Washington DC. Jason Kalafat’s legal team has experience representing clients against these types of charges and will make sure that you get the best possible representation if you are headed to trial. Please contact us to find out how we may be able to help you and the services we are able to provide in this area of criminal defense.

If you have been charged with any criminal offense in Washington, DC, Jason Kalafat has the skill, experience, and knowledge to vigorously protect your interests in the face of prosecution.

Failure to Appear in DC

Most people understand that any criminal charge requires immediate response and intervention by a skilled defense attorney. However, there are numerous circumstances in which you might find yourself accidentally in violation of a court order and charged with a failure to appear. Perhaps you did not receive your summons, you could not leave your work for fear of losing your job, you were medically incapacitated, or you were simply confused by the court process. Oftentimes when people are charged with failing to appear before the court, they were not, in fact, willfully defying the court’s order. The repercussions for such a charge, however, can be quite severe and therefore require the assistance of an experienced Washington, DC criminal attorney who has successfully defended numerous clients against the charge of failing to appear. If you have an outstanding bench warrant for your arrest, or have been arrested, contact a lawyer who has extensive experience in this legal realm.

DC Gun Charges

Though you have the constitutional right to own a gun, that right comes with many responsibilities and restrictions in the District of Columbia. The variety of charges are numerous, including carrying a pistol without a license, also known as CPWOL, carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, possession of an illegal firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and more. The majority of gun crimes for which you may be charged appear in D.C. Code Section Title 22, Chapter 45, all of which can result in a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. To view a full copy of the section, click here.

Aside from the legal penalties, there are numerous professional and personal penalties you may face if you are so charged. Gun charges in the District can threaten your current job and future employment prospects, and can make it extremely difficult — if not impossible — to qualify for rental and lease agreements and, possibly, home and car loans. Do not run the risk of assuming that your gun violation, which could be considered a less serious charge in nearby states, is something that you can defend against on your own. Contact a dedicated DC gun lawyer immediately.

DC Fraud Lawyer

Fraud offenses can ensnare a variety of unsuspecting people and frequently involve defendants who have never before run afoul of the law. The charge is also one that can create lasting, if not permanent, damage, to one’s professional and personal reputation. The legal penalties can also be extremely punitive, including up to ten years in prison for a first offense. Fraud charges and penalties are described in Title 22, Chapter 32 of the D.C. Code. You will find a pdf copy of the code here. Fraud charges can be levied in the first and second degree, and can include charges of credit card fraud, insurance fraud, and identity theft, which has been a growing trend in crime statistics for the past several years. All fraud charges are aggressively prosecuted and require the skills and dedication of a knowledgeable Washington, DC criminal attorney.

DC Robbery Charges

Much like fraud, robbery charges are also considered a serious criminal offense and can result in extensive damage to your professional and personal life. Though the law in D.C. requires that you have the intent to steal in order for an offense to qualify as a robbery, the way you are treated once you a charged with a robbery — by authorities as well as your colleagues and family — may feel as though you have been convicted and condemned before you have had a chance to defend yourself. Penalties for a robbery conviction can range from two to 15 years in prison. Attempted robbery can net up to three years in prison and/or up to $12,500 in fines. Other types of robbery include carjacking and theft. You can read about all the potential charges and penalties here.

If you have been charged with robbery, you will require the services of an attorney who has extensive experience defending clients against such charges. Your attorney will fight aggressively to protect your rights and reputation, and will be your strongest advocate in and outside of court.

DC Solicitation Lawyer

DC law defines solicitation as the act of offering, inviting, enticing, or persuading a person to engage in sex or sex acts in exchange for some form of payment. The payment can be money or goods that have value. Most of the people who find themselves charged with solicitation have been arrested as the result of a targeted police enforcement operation. That can include officers posing as prostitutes or infiltrating massage parlors, escort services, and online personal ads. Prostitution is a related charge, but it is defined as sexual contact of any kind with a person(s) in exchange for payment. Again, payment can be made in a variety of ways, including money and/or goods or services. Being charged with solicitation or prostitution is a devastating experience and one that can have consequences far into your future. To avoid the devastating impact such accusations can wreak, call a Washington, DC criminal attorney for a free, initial consultation.

Washington, DC Expungement

If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, please don’t assume that your rights and reputation have been forever tarnished and give up all hope of regaining your freedoms. Though many criminal convictions can mar an otherwise pristine record for years, if not a lifetime, a skilled DC criminal attorney will know how to get your record sealed, or expunged, after conviction. The ability to seal an entire criminal record, or certain charges, can have numerous benefits as such records can keep you from securing certain jobs, security clearances, bank loans, and many other necessities. Even those who have never been convicted and were simply charged with a crime can see serious damage. You will need to speak to an attorney who is well-versed in this aspect of the law to determine if your record, and previous convictions, can be sealed.

Traffic Charges in DC

DC Criminal Defense AttorneyA traffic offense or a speeding ticket may seem like a minor legal issue, but in Washington, DC, some offenses can result in misdemeanor charges, which can saddle you with a criminal record if you are convicted. The most common of these types of charges is reckless driving, and it can result from a number of seemingly simple mistakes or oversights, including tailgating, causing an accident, and failing to yield to emergency vehicles. If you are charged with reckless driving in the District, you could be fined up to $1,000, suffer the loss of your driving privileges, and, in some cases, be sentenced to time in jail. Given the potential penalties, and the resulting aftermath, you would be wise to contact a DC traffic attorney as soon as possible.

What Can an Attorney Do For You?

Unfortunately, too many people think that hiring a defense attorney will make them appear guilty, perhaps leading authorities to the conclusion that they have something to hide. However, having legal representation from an attorney is not an indication of guilt but rather a constitutional right. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to remember that you are being prosecuted by experienced lawyers determined to prove your guilt. Defense attorneys not only strive to protect clients from unfair prosecution, they protect the legal rights and interests of defendants from arrest through prosecution and court proceedings.

Washington, DC law enforcement officers build a case against you using the full force of government agencies. Having an experienced attorney on your side will help level the playing field.

It is important to find a DC criminal defense lawyer as early in your case as possible. Keep in mind the following:

  1. Anything you say to law enforcement officials, police, or federal agents can and will be used against you to prosecute your case. Trying to “clear things up” without advice from a lawyer can lead to the manipulation of your words.
  2. Most evidence used by the prosecution is gathered in the initial stages of a criminal investigation. A criminal lawyer in DC can protect your constitutional rights, for example by preventing illegal search and seizure, during these early stages of investigation. Furthermore, as prosecutors gather evidence to mount a case against you, a lawyer can preserve evidence to support your defense.
  3. Prosecutors and district attorneys often push for maximum sentencing. Attorney Jason Kalafat has proven successful at negotiating reduced charges and lighter sentencing, including probation over jail time. Where dismissal is impossible and fighting for acquittal is an unwise legal move in light of the evidence, skillful negotiation is imperative to reach the optimum legal result.

To protect your interests, you need an intelligent, motivated criminal defense team behind you. Defense attorneys understand the urgency of criminal charges and will work diligently to ensure that your rights are preserved at every stage of a criminal proceeding.

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Announcing: Jason Kalafat Make a Difference Scholarship

We are excited to announce that this year we will be offering the Jason Kalafat Make a Difference Scholarship for the first time. During his legal career, Jason Kalafat has prided himself on devoting his time to being a positive force in people’s lives, first as a Public Defender in Arizona before eventually moving to Washington, DC and entering private practice. However, Mr. Kalafat’s legal career did not start in criminal defense; it began with a stint in commercial litigation. While he felt that commercial litigation was an important part of the American legal system, it did not fully suit his desire to impact people’s lives directly. As a result of this desire to make a difference, Mr. Kalafat has created this scholarship. The scholarship will award $500 to a deserving student who puts forth a thoughtful, creative, and meaningful response to how their dream will make a necessary and practical change in the world. 

More information about this scholarship can be found here.