The Court of Appeals in IN RE D.P., APPELLANT, decided on August 13, 2015, reversed D.P.’s conviction for aggravated assault and felonious assault (assault with significant bodily injury).

The charges stemmed from an assault by a group of three teenagers on a metro bus on M.G., another student. Thus the government charged M.P., I.C. and D.P. with aggravated assault and assault with significant bodily injury. M.P. pled out to simple assault, the case against I.C. was dropped and D.P. proceeded to trial and was convicted on the two counts.

Before the Court reversed D.P.’s convictions, the Court outlined the three levels of assaultive conduct under the DC Statute:

–The District has a three-tiered classification system of assault. Simple assault is the lowest-level offense. A misdemeanor, it does not require that any actual injury be incurred and requires only general intent to perform the assaultive act. Assault with significant bodily injury, commonly referred to as “felony assault,” is the intermediate crime. As its name suggests, it requires the defendant to cause significant bodily injury and to do so “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.” Aggravated assault is the highest-level assault crime recognized in the District. To obtain a conviction for aggravated assault, the government must prove that the defendant caused serious bodily injury to the victim and must prove one of two qualifying mental states: that the defendant (1) caused this injury “knowingly or purposely,” (2) “[u]nder circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, . . . intentionally or knowingly engage[d] in conduct which create[d] a grave risk of serious bodily
injury to [the victim]. –

In reversing the convictions for both aggravated assault and felonious assault – the Court focused first on the mental state of the defendant D.P., and then on the physical injuries sustained by the victim. The Court appropriately concluded that first defendant D.P. did not posses the requisite mental state or mens rea for aggravated assault. Specifically, the court held that D.P. did not demonstrate “extreme indifference to human life, equivalent to the mental state required for second-degree murder” required to prove aggravated assault. Moreover, D.P. did not engage intentionally or knowingly in conduct, which created a grave risk of serious bodily injury, and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life – thus the conviction for aggravated assault must be reversed.

The Court also concluded that D.P.’s conviction for felonious assault must be revered because the evidence was insufficient to establish that she was involved in the lesser included offense of assault with significant bodily injury in that the victim did not suffer –significant bodily injury – as required by statute. There was evidence that the victim suffered from headaches and some bruising post assault, but she did not need treatment, was not hospitalized, and that there were no significant injuries sustained.

The government made an error here in not pursing and trying D.P. for simple assault as the facts presented at trial only established elements for simple assault.

The Law Office of David Stein, specialize in all forms of criminal assault and litigation.

Categories: Criminal Defense.