DC Disorderly Conduct and Assault Lawyer

Disorderly conduct is a very broad statute with ten different categories. While some of these categories are specific, others encompass a wide range of actions and ideas. Whether it is being loud or interfering with other people’s wellbeing, there are numerous ways of disrupting the public that could lead to charges.

Furthermore, assault is a more serious offense that could result in severe penalties and impact a person’s future financial, personal, and professional wellbeing. Therefore, if you were charged with either offense, speaking with a DC disorderly conduct and assault lawyer about your legal options might be essential. A well-versed criminal attorney could review your case, explain your rights, and work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

The Types of Disorderly Conduct

There are numerous types of actions that are considered to be disorderly conduct in DC. Depending on the type of charge, as well as the specific circumstances of a case, an individual might face serious penalties. For example, someone might be charged with disturbing the peace for:

  • Public urination or defecation
  • Abusive language
  • Recklessly putting someone in reasonable fear
  • Being unreasonably loud
  • Unnecessary jostling, crowding, or placing a hand near another person’s belongings
  • Stealthily looking into someone’s window

No matter the severity of these or other charges, anyone accused should not try to build a defense on their own. Instead, hiring a seasoned disorderly conduct and assault attorney in DC could prove to be essential for the ensuing case.

Intentionally or Recklessly Putting Someone Else in Reasonable Fear

Intentionally or recklessly putting someone else in reasonable fear of person or property is a broad category of disorderly conduct. Essentially, it is the sort of behavior that could make a person afraid that they will be harmed or that their property will be damaged or taken. An individual could be charged with this type of public disturbance if they are behaving recklessly and instilling fear in another person.

Abusive or Offensive Language

Abusive or offensive language is another broadly-defined type of disorderly conduct, one which has two categories. The first is language that is likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation or violence. However, there is no strict definition of what sort of words or actions would meet these definitions. Therefore, the language must usually be extremely abusive or offensive, and must also be ongoing. Usually, the other person would ask the defendant to stop—or the accused person may have multiple opportunities to stop—before it would rise to the level of abusive or offensive behavior.

The other type of abusive language is the kind used with the intent of disrupting the conduct of a public gathering or congregation of people. This offense usually requires a more specific type of language. However, it is important to discern whether the language in question was disruptive to the gathering or event, or whether it was merely an exercise of First Amendment rights. As a result, a common defense would be that free speech is allowed in this country, and that the accused person was merely exercising these rights by expressing their opinion. Due to these nuances, having the council and knowledge of a DC disorderly conduct and assault lawyer could prove useful.

Making Unreasonably Loud Noise

Another type of disorderly conduct is being unreasonably loud between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. in DC. Usually, this noise would have to be likely to disturb one or more other persons in their residences. By virtue, what constitutes unreasonable loud noise is subjective. In certain cases, of course, certain facts might make it rather obvious whether the defendant has been loud. However, if a person’s case contains subjective terms and no clear definition, an accused person could claim that the noise was not, in fact, unreasonable. Furthermore, because it must be shown that the noise would likely disturb someone in their home, any offense that occurs in a commercial area where no one lives will usually not be valid.

Looking Stealthily into a Window or Other Opening

Disorderly conduct by looking stealthily into a window or other opening is a very specific offense. Essentially, when an individual is looking in a window or other opening where another person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, it is considered disorderly conduct. Furthermore, it does not matter if there is anybody home—an individual cannot go sneaking around and looking through people’s windows.

A possible defense that a disorderly conduct and assault lawyer in DC could use for this charge, however, is whether the occupant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is a subjective term and, therefore, one could argue that there are certain instances where this expectation is unreasonable, such as a resident who lives close to a public area. For example, if the person looking through the window or opening was on public property, it may be hard to argue that the occupant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. As a result, whether or not a charge is valid would depend on the specific facts of a case, which could be investigated in depth by DC

Unnecessary Jostling, Crowding, or Placing a Hand Near Another Person’s Handbag, Pocketbook, or Wallet

If an individual is getting close to another person and making it seem as though they might try to pickpocket them, this could also be considered a form of disorderly conduct. This charge may occur on the subway, on the metro, or in crowded places on the street. Of course, these charges can be elevated to theft if something is actually taken.

Possible Defenses to a Public Disturbance Charge

Anyone accused of disorderly conduct should be aware of the type of defenses that might be viable—depending on the circumstances of their case. For example, there might be room for a knowledgeable DC attorney familiar with disorderly conduct claims to argue over what is reasonable fear. Therefore, it could be argued that a charge is worded rather vaguely and—because many of these charges are based on a lack of actual harm—this might be a valid defense.

This is because, if a person was physically injured or if something has been taken, defendants are typically charged with theft or assault. Without any actual harm occurring, there is a great deal of room to argue that the person was not acting intentionally. Since these are very subjective terms, an attorney might be able to argue that the person’s conduct did not actually meet the definition of disorderly conduct.

The approach for a defense depends on the charges at hand, of course. For example, disorderly conduct by inciting or provoking violence is typically charged on the basis of an accused individual’s verbal conduct. This could involve arguing with someone, threatening them, or attempting to goad them into a fight. In terms of defenses, then, there is no clear line that distinguishes free speech or a heated argument that is not criminal, to the crime of disorderly conduct of inciting or provoking violence.

Simply put, there must be a likelihood that some violence will ensue, which is very subjective. Because there is no clear definition of what constitutes this, it must be shown that the conduct somehow went beyond mere words in order to prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—that the defendant was inciting or provoking violence, and not simply exercising free speech. Due to the subjective nature of many allegations, this is often difficult for a prosecution to prove.

What is the Difference Between Assault and Disorderly Conduct in DC?

In DC, assault is any unconsented touching or unconsented physical contact with another person. In certain cases, it is also referred to as battery. It may involve punching, kicking, fighting, pushing, shoving, or groping. Another type of assault is putting someone in reasonable apprehension of immediate harm. For example, if a person walks up to another individual and raises their fists as if they are about to punch them, this action could qualify as an assault—even if they do not actually hit them or make contact. Individuals should also note that while groping someone could also be first-degree sexual abuse in DC, it would also qualify as an assault.

Holding a gun could also be considered an assault, even if the weapon was unloaded, or if it is a toy gun or water gun. If the person has a reasonable apprehension that it is a real weapon and they are about to be harmed immediately, this could still constitute an assault.

It should be noted that while DC does not have a statute on battery, it is usually considered to be a type of assault. However, while unwanted physical contact is generally considered battery, it could also be considered assault. Given the serious nature of an assault charge in DC, accused individuals should speak with a disorderly conduct and assault attorney immediately to discuss their legal rights.

The Types of Charges

In DC, there are multiple types of common assault charges. These include simple assault, aggravated assault, and assault with intent to kill. A well-practiced attorney could help to explain the complexities of each type of charge to anyone who has been accused.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is the most basic type of this offense and is usually charged as a misdemeanor. These charges might arise if there is a physical altercation that does not involve excessive force or excessive injury. Common examples of simple assault include someone tripping or slapping someone else.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is one that causes serious bodily injury or behavior that manifests extreme indifference to human life. These include violent attacks, such as a person continuing to attack someone while they are already on the ground, or when a person uses a weapon—such as a beer bottle or brass knuckles.

The offense may also occur if someone is acting completely reckless. If a person throws something off a building onto the street while knowing there are people on the sidewalk, for example, that could be considered an aggravated assault if someone was hurt. This could hold true even if the accused was not attempting to intentionally hit anyone.

Assault with Intent to Kill

As its name implies, assault with intent to kill is the most serious type of assault charge, and consists of committing some action where a person intended to kill another individual. This charge might come in junction with first or second-degree sexual abuse, or assault with intent to commit a robbery. These are all categorized in the same statute and carry a minimum of two years and a maximum of 15 years in prison.

The Investigation Process

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 disorderly conduct and 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, a disorderly conduct and assault lawyer in DC could help to gather evidence and work to build a sturdy defense.

Consult a DC Disorderly Conduct and Assault Attorney for Help

If you are facing charges for causing a public disturbance or committing an assault, you might be overwhelmed and feel as though you have no legal recourse. However, by working with a DC disorderly conduct and assault lawyer, you could better understand your legal options and have an experienced ally who could guide you through the ensuing process.

An attorney could work to analyze the situation and help develop a strategy to try to receive the best possible outcome. For example, the attorney might know what pieces of evidence to look for and may be able to identify the weaknesses in the government’s case. On the other hand,  there might be alternative resolutions, diversion programs, or other ways that the case could be resolved that do not result with a conviction on someone’s record. To learn more, reach out to a legal professional today.