This blog outlines and analyzes the statutory language of the three main DC assault provisions: simple assault, aggravated assault and assault on a police officer.
The simple assault statute includes both elements and penalties for assault and stalking as they are consolidated under the same statutory language specifically that a person commits a misdemeanor assault punishable by not more than 180 days imprisonment and/or a $1000.00 fine — if he/she unlawfully assaults or threatens another in a menacing fashion.
The felony assault which raises the penalties to 3 years and/or $3000.00 in fines has all the elements of the simple assault but requires a second prong of: intentionally knowingly or recklessly causing “significant bodily injury.” The term significant bodily injury means an injury that would need an immediate medical attention.
Aggravated assault is generally defined as causing “serious bodily injury” by any means to another person knowingly and purposely. Specifically, engaging in a conduct “manifesting extreme indifference to human life” – which both creates a grave risk of serious injury and also causes serious bodily injury.
Aggravated assault carries penalties of: 10 years and/or $10,000.00 in fines. The attempted aggravated assault carries half the penalties.
Assault on a police officer statute defines “police officer” very broadly and encompasses almost any uniform officer of any kind including the fire department, campus police, special police, security police, even pre-trial, social services, code compliance, and other regulatory governmental officers.
The statutory language also penalizes not only direct unlawful assault but also resisting, opposing, impeding and intimidating or even interfering with any law enforcement officer while on official duty. Penalties are similar to the simple assault: 180 days or/and $1000.00 fine. Causing “significant bodily injury” or committing an act that creates a risk of significant bodily injuries to a police officer is a felony punishable by: 10 years and/or $10,000.00 in fines.
It is important to note that resisting an unlawful arrest is not considered an excuse under the statute and thus punishable under the same penalties enumerated.
Below is the quick summary of the possible assault charges and penalties:
1) No injury needed any menacing or threatening or stalking behavior (misdemeanor 180 days /$1000.00 fine)
2) Intentional, knowing or recklessly act causing significant bodily injury
(felony 3 years/$3000.00 fine)
1) Causing serious bodily injury
2) Under circumstances demonstrating extreme indifference to human life
3) Act that creates and causes serious bodily injury
(10 years/$10,000.00 fine)
Assault on a Police Officer
1) Any unlawful simple assaultive conduct, resisting, impeding, opposing or interfering with a police officer (Misd. 180 days/$1000.00 fine)
2) Conduct as enumerated above however causing “significant bodily injury” – (felony 10 years/$10,000.00 fine)
The assault statute is over broad, overreaching and leaves a great deal of subjectivity in the hands of the police officers enforcing the statute in the streets.
For example any threatening or menacing gesture or conduct arguably could fall under the simple assault provision as enumerate above. The raising of the voice, quick hand articulation, aggressive bodily movement and gesture, all fall under the statute and could be criminalized depending on the responding officer.
Thus, there is great deal of room for interpretation and explanation and in short “defense” in the courtroom requiring a highly skilled, seasoned, and experienced trial lawyer.
Contact our Washington DC Criminal Lawyer/DC Assault lawyer today for your free case evaluation.