DC Assault Lawyer

Assault is a term that covers a wide range of criminal offenses. In general, it refers to either threatening harm or inflicting injury upon another person. A threat of violence reaches the level of an assault only if the victim reasonably fears that harm or unwanted contact will occur. The definition and interpretations of reasonable are complicated and somewhat subjective practice, which is why anyone who has been charged with assault should seek the services of a dedicated DC assault lawyer.

In addition, the crime of assault incorporates elements of common law assault and battery. There are many potential penalties you face if convicted of assault. An experienced defense attorney can help you build a defense to any assault charges you may face.

Types of Assault Charges

Simple Assault

Simple assault occurs when someone causes or attempts to cause harm to another person. It also covers situations where someone causes or attempts to initiate unwanted contact. Last but not least, it also covers situations where the victim has a reason to believe he or she will be harmed or otherwise receive unwanted contact.

  • Simple assault penalties. The penalty in these cases can be up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail. (For the most minor of assault charges – threats to do bodily harm – the penalty is up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail). If the assault or threat causes the victim to require hospitalization, then the charge may be upgraded to assault with significant bodily injury, which is a felony. The penalties for assault with significant bodily injury are significantly higher than those for simple assault. Fines can add up to $12,500 and the jail time can extend up to three years making it important that a DC assault lawyer is contacted.
  • Simple assault is a misdemeanor. However, if the assault is perpetrated with the intent of committing an additional crime, then it becomes a felony. This also results in the penalties increasing, depending on the nature of the additional crime.

Aggravated Assault

With aggravated assault, the defendant must be found to have caused injuries more egregious than those required for simple assault or assault with significant bodily injury. This is one of the most severe charges related to an assault. Aggravated assault can also be charged if an individual acts in a way that causes risk of injury to others and results in serious bodily injury—even if the person did not directly intend to cause harm.

  • Aggravated assault penalties. Aggravated assault carries more severe penalties than simple assault. A first offense can include a fine of up to $25,000. It can also include jail time of up to 10 years. As with simple assault, the person at fault can be penalized with the fine, the jail time, or both.
  • Attempted aggravated assault. The penalty for attempting aggravated assault is still severe. It can include fines of up to $12,500 and/or 5 years in prison.

Aggravated assault and attempted aggravated assault are both felonies and therefore should be addressed with the assistance of a DC assault attorney.

Assaulting a Police Officer

Assaulting an officer can and often does carry stiffer penalties than a simple assault. DC law is quite broad in defining who constitutes an officer. A law enforcement officer includes police officers, prison and jail guards, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and certain civilians employed by law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, code inspectors, criminal and civil courts, and more. Assaulting an officer is a charge that could be levied at either of the following two levels:

  • The first level includes assaulting, resisting, intimidating, or otherwise interfering with an officer while that officer is acting in his or her official capacity. This level of assault comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail. It is a misdemeanor charge
  • The second level is more severe. If the crime above is committed but the officer in question requires immediate medical attention, then the penalty is elevated. This is also the case if the person acts in such a way that creates a major risk of injury that would require medical attention. In these cases, the penalty can go up to $25,000 and/or 10 years in prison. This is a felony offense

The Investigation Process for Assault Cases in DC

DC law enforcement takes charges of assault very seriously, because violence against another person is a basic violation of the law and of the expectations of civil society. These offenses could be considered disruptive to the community and, as a result, may have very serious consequences for a person, which might go beyond physical injuries and include psychological and emotional trauma.

However, the length of time that law enforcement will conduct an investigation before arresting a person for assault depends on the facts of the case. If the case is relatively straightforward or if the identity of the accused is known and DC verifies the facts of the nature of the allegations, the investigation might only take a few days. In certain cases, however, it may be more complex. If there is video footage and the perpetrator is unknown, for example, an investigation could take weeks or even months.

The length of the investigation may also be dependent upon the seriousness of the offense. If there was a shove with no injuries at a night club with video footage, and the accused person is unknown, law enforcement may not prioritize this case. On the other hand, if there was a shooting and innocent bystanders were shot, injured or killed, law enforcement will likely spend a great deal of time trying to identify the defendant and will continue an investigation for weeks or months—if needed. A DC lawyer who has experience with assault claims could work to assess the specific facts of an individual’s case and determine the severity of their charges.

What Makes These Charges Unique?

Assault charges are frightening for defendants to face for a number of reasons. First of all, the violence that is associated with assault carries a social stigma. As a result, many people categorize an offense against another person differently than they would a theft, an offense against property, a drug offense, or other such crimes. Furthermore, the penalties for an assault could be very serious, and a resulting mark on a person’s record will likely require more explaining and will be looked at differently by employers or potential landlords.

Lastly, these charges might be difficult to disprove, depending upon the circumstances of a case. For example, in cases where the only evidence is the testimony of the defendant and the accuser, the decision by the judge or jury might simply be based upon subjective factors. Naturally, this could be very disconcerting for a defendant, since it may be hard to predict a reliable outcome. However, an assault lawyer in DC could help to gather evidence and work to build a sturdy defense.

Working with a DC Assault Attorney

Any time an individual is arrested for a criminal charge, as soon as possible that individual should contact an experienced assault lawyer in DC who practices in the jurisdiction and court in which that defendant is going to appear. That is critical because every jurisdiction has different nuances of the law.

Every jurisdiction will have some law against assault. The specifics of that law though can change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The application of that law can change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. How the courts and prosecutors treat the charge, what the prosecutors do in their investigations, the actual procedure of the case in that court, who the judges and prosecutors are. All of these things are critical parts of the criminal process that the defendant now finds himself in.

Anyone facing prosecution for a criminal offense should get an experienced DC assault attorney who knows the players, the system, and the law. If they do not practice in DC, they will not know the judges and prosecutors. They will not know the nuances of the law, or the police and procedures. They may not be able to give someone the best possible defense. That is why it is important to seek and retain an experienced DC assault lawyer who is practicing in the specific court in which someone is being prosecuted.

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