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Assault

In DC, simple assault carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Because the maximum penalty is less than one year in jail, it is a misdemeanor charge. To prove you guilty of simple assault, the government must prove the elements of one of two possible theories. The first is “attempted-battery” assault where the government must prove (1) with force or violence against another person, you (2) intended to use force or violence against that person; and (3) at the time you had the apparent ability to injure that person.

Alternatively, the government may proceed on a theory of “intent-to-frighten” assault where it must prove (1) you committed a threatening act that reasonably would create in another person fear of immediate injury; (2) you intended to cause injury to or to create fear in the person; and (3) at the time, you had the apparent ability to injure the person.

That means for intent-to-frighten assault physical force is not required. Sometimes, the government can convict based on threatening words and actions. Under both theories, these are what the law considers “general intent crimes.” General intent is slightly easier to prove than “specific intent” crimes because the government only has to prove that you intended to do the action that caused the assault—not that you specifically intended to assault the person.

Like all crimes, certain defenses exist where even if the government proves the elements, you may not be convicted. Self-defense is the most common defense to simple assault and/or other assaultive type criminal offenses. To demonstrate you acted in self-defense, you must show (1) you actually believed that you were in imminent danger of bodily harm; and (2) you had reasonable grounds for that belief. This defense, however, is based on a hypothetical “reasonable” standard, which can be difficult to pin down. For example, if someone shoved you, a court would not likely find it reasonable that you stabbed them in response. That would not likely fly as “reasonable” under DC law.

Another defense to simple assault, in cases where parents are charged with assaulting their children, is reasonable parental discipline. In fact, to convict a parent for assaulting their child, the government must actually prove the physical act was not part of reasonable parental discipline. You’ll notice that buzzword “reasonable” again in these types of cases. It’s a standard that can be tough to pin down but again using a serious amount of force against a child would likely never constitute “reasonable parental discipline.” Some things the Court may consider is the age of the child and the bad behavior that caused the parent to discipline the child.

Another defense to assault type crimes is defense of others. This defense is similar to self-defense but instead of fearing for imminent bodily harm, someone uses force to protect a third-party. To make a showing of defense of others, you would need to show (1) you actually believed that the other person was in imminent danger of bodily harm; and (2) you had reasonable grounds for that belief. Again, proportionality is important for this defense. Shooting someone who shoved your friend or severely beating a person in those circumstances would not qualify.

Other defenses include misidentification, mistake or accident, and consent. In a misidentification case, you are arguing that the complaining witness identified the wrong person and that someone else actually committed the crime. Mistake or accident is exactly how it sounds. That defense you must show you did not intentionally commit the assault. For example, if you tripped and fell into another person and they thought it was intentional, you would argue mistake or accident. Finally, the defense of consent is that the complaining witness consented to whatever physical conduct occurred.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. In the District of Columbia, unlike most jurisdictions, the right to a trial by jury has been seriously diminished by both the City Council and the government prosecutors.

To be eligible for a jury trial, the offense the government charges you with must carry a maximum penalty of over 180 days and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Most misdemeanors in DC, including simple assault, carry as a maximum penalty: you guessed it, 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In misdemeanor cases where the maximum penalty qualifies as a jury demandable offense (a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail or 1 year in jail), the government almost always amends the charge to “attempt” whatever the offense is. They amend the charges because the general attempt statute in DC carries a maximum penalty of . . . 180 days in jail and/or $1,000.00 fine.

In 2016, the DC City Council, amended the assault on a police officer statute to be a jury demandable offense. The council did this intentionally. However, the government found another way to deny a defendant a right to trial by jury by simply amending most assault on a police officer cases to simple assault.

As previously mentioned, assault on a police officer is another crime involving assaultive conduct. For these cases, there is the added requirement that the complaining witness (or alleged victim) was a police officer. In addition, non-violent sexual touching assault replaces the element of force or violence with “sexually touched.” Misdemeanor child cruelty is a charge that involves a parent using force against a child as previously mentioned and misdemeanor sex assault is a crime with the added element that you intended to “cause fear, shame, humiliation or mental anguish in a person of reasonable sensibility if done without consent.”

In addition, several felony assault type crimes exist in the District of Columbia, which include assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with significant bodily injury, assault with intent to commit robbery, assault with intent to kill, and assault with intent to murder. These all constitute serious felony charges that included added elements the government must prove dealing with the seriousness of the alleged victim’s injury, whether a weapon was used during the commission of the assault, and what specific intent

When faced with an arrest for assault charges it is crucial that you hire an experienced DC assault attorney who will answer any questions and can help you navigate the court system. At Scrofano Law PC, you will find you aggressive and knowledgeable attorneys who will provide you answers for all of your questions and concerns. We understand how stressful any arrest can be and as a result we pride ourselves in making our attorneys available for consults whenever needed.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for an assault offense, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full case evaluation.

Traffic

As previously discussed, DUI and LAC (or hit and run) are the most common traffic offenses in the District of Columbia. Nonetheless, there are still several other arrestable traffic offenses that carry both jail time and fines including (1) Reckless Driving, (2) Speeding Over Thirty (S>30), (3) Operating after a Suspended or Revoked License (OAS or OAR), and (4) No Permit.

To be convicted of Reckless Driving in the District, the government must prove that you were (1) driving a motor vehicle, (2) carelessly, and (3) in willful, wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others. The government can usually demonstrate to the court that the manner in which you were driving was unreasonable by simply testifying to what the officer witnessed you do. However, the government may have a harder time proving your intent to drive. What this means is that the government bears the burden of proving that you intended to do the acts for which you were arrested, and that you knew or should have known that your acts created an unreasonable risk of injury. Proving intent is hard for the government because it’s hard to demonstrate what you were thinking at the time of the offense.

Similar to Reckless Driving, to be convicted of S>30, the government must prove that you were (1) driving a motor vehicle, (2) without proper caution and attention, and (3) at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property. The last element for S>30 means speeding 30 miles over the posted speed limit. Unlike Reckless Driving, S>30 may be easier for the government to prove because there is no intent element.

For both Reckless Driving and Speeding over 30, the outcome of your case is largely dependent upon all of the circumstances surrounding the incident such as the road, lighting, traffic, the presence of pedestrians, and weather conditions.

In the District, OAS/OAR and No Permit are essentially the same offense. The difference between the two is where you live. OAS/OAR is driving without a permit while a resident of DC and No Permit is driving without a permit while a resident of another state (or with a DC license that has been expired for more than 90 days). To be convicted of either OAS/OAR or No Permit, the government must prove that you were (1) operating a motor vehicle (2) with a revoked or suspended license or no license at all.

As discussed in a previous post, DC’s law on operation is not favorable for anyone in or around a motor vehicle. For example, the car doesn’t even have to be moving for the government to show that you were operating it. The second element is also relatively easy for the government to prove because they can just have a DMV representative testify that your license was revoked or suspended. The only exception to this rule is for out of state drivers because it is harder for the government to bring an out-of-state DMV representative to testify against you.

If you are convicted of Reckless Driving, you could face up to 3 months jail time and/or a $300 fine. For a SOT, you could face up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine. A S>30 convictions carries 12 points on your license which results in the loss of your driving privileges. If you are a first offender, you have a better chance at avoiding jail time and fines.

If you are convicted of OAR or OAS, you could face a maximum penalty of up to 1 year jail time and/or a $5,000 fine. For a No Permit conviction, you could face up to 90 days jail time or a $300 fine. For the last two offenses, you’re more likely to avoid jail time and fines if you obtain a valid driver’s license. For more information about how to reinstate your license, visit our blog.

Unfortunately, the government rarely offers any type of deals for Reckless Driving or S>30. First offenders have the best chance at being offered a deal. If the government did offer a deal in this situation, it would may be a deferred sentencing agreement. What this means is that you must plead guilty but then the court defers sentencing you. During the deferred time, you could possibly pay fines, enroll in a traffic safety course, and/or complete community service. Then, at your sentencing hearing, you could withdraw your guilty plea and the government will not object. The court would then dismiss your case. If this deal was offered, its often better to take the case to trial because you can avoid a conviction on your record if you just jump through some hoops.

Unlike Reckless Driving and S>30 charges, the government is more likely to dismiss OAR, OAS, and No Permit cases for first offenders if they get their license reinstated. For repeat offenders, the government is unlikely to dismiss your case.

Any person convicted of a crime has the right to an appeal. Whether or not you should appeal depends on what you are looking to get out of the situation. Because of the tedious and time-consuming judicial process, it is likely that you will have already completed your sentence before your appeal is decided. While you probably won’t avoid your sentence, you can achieve a moral victory by winning an appeal because your conviction would be overturned and erased from your record. A moral victory is a victory nonetheless, and you have a lot to gain from winning an appeal.

You could also attempt to get your record sealed. If you are arrested for any of the above four but not convicted, you could get your arrest record sealed. However, you have to wait at least 2 years before you can file a motion to seal. If you arrested and convicted of any of the above four offenses, you can get your record sealed but you must wait at least 8 years before you can file a motion to seal. The only time record sealing may not be an option is if you are a repeat offender.  When faced with a possible DC Traffic Offense conviction, it is important that you hire a skilled DC Traffic lawyer who will answer any and all of your questions. At Scrofano Law PC, while we can never guarantee the outcome of a case, we can guarantee you answers and that we’ll fight aggressively on your behalf.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DC Traffic Offense, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

Fake ID

To be convicted for Misrepresentation of Age (or having a fake ID) in the District, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are under 21 and tried to misrepresent yourself with fraudulent identification and in doing so, you attempted to or did purchase, possess or drink alcohol, or you attempted to gain access to an establishment that had an on-premises retailer’s license, an arena C/X license or a temporary license.

To be convicted for Contributing to the Delinquency of a minor (relating to alcohol or drugs) in Washington, D.C., the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you permitted a minor to possess or consume alcohol or, without a valid prescription, a controlled substance. The government must also prove that you were over 18 and at least 4 years older than the minor. Many times these arrests involve older friends, parents and at times even teachers. Any arrest is serious and can be highly embarrassing as they tend to receive local media attention.

These are relatively easy elements for the government to prove considering most people are caught in the act. Therefore, the outcome of your case is largely dependent on how many times you have been in trouble for the same crime.

If you are convicted for Misrepresentation of Age or Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, there is a possibility that you could go to jail and/or have to pay a fine.

For first time Misrepresentation of Age offenders, you face a criminal misdemeanor conviction and a sentence up to a $300.00 fine and the suspension of your driving privileges in Washington, D.C. for 90 consecutive days. This penalty increases on any additional arrests related to Misrepresentation of Age. For first time Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors offenders, the penalties are up to 6 months in jail and/or $1000 in fines. If you are facing a 2nd or 3rd offense you are facing felony charges and lengthy jail sentences.

Misrepresentation of Age Conviction—yes, unfortunately your license can be suspended from 90 consecutive days up to 1 year, depending on whether it’s a first offense or not. However, a Washington, D.C. attorney can assist you in reinstating your license once your suspension period has ended.

Contribution to the Delinquency of a Minor—Generally, No.

For many first offenders, the government is more willing to offer you a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). A DPA allows the government to essentially punish you for the crime without a conviction going on your record. For underage drinking offenses, the government will usually offer that if you perform 16 hours of community service hours and pay a fine, it will dismiss the charge upon completion. This deal has many advantages for those facing underage drinking charges. Whether or not you should take this deal, however, would depend in large part on the facts of your case. In order to know whether you accept any deal you must consult with a District of Columbia Criminal defense attorney. In addition, a skilled attorney can assist you in selecting a community service program that will work around your lifestyle and schedule.

First time Misrepresentation of Age Offenders, who are not convicted, are eligible to have their arrest record sealed 6 months after their case is dismissed. Unfortunately, those who are arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, and are not convicted, must wait 2 years instead of 6 months, unless filing for Actual Innocence. In the unfortunate event that you are convicted of either offense, the waiting period is substantially longer—8 years.

When faced with an arrest for charges related to Misrepresentation of Age or Contribution to the Delinquency of a Minor, it is essential that you hire an experienced Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney who will answer any questions you undoubtedly have. At Scrofano Law PC, you will find you knowledgeable attorneys who will provide you answers for all of your questions and concerns. We understand how stressful any arrest can be and as a result we pride ourselves in making our attorneys available for consults whenever needed.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DC Fake ID or DC CDM, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.  Also, see our blog post on DC fake ID arrests.

Expungement

The default rule for record sealing eligibility is that anyone is eligible so long as you were not (1) convicted of an ineligible misdemeanor or an ineligible felony and (2) convicted of any offense in any jurisdiction after the arrest or conviction you are attempting to get sealed.

Under DC law, there are 40 ineligible misdemeanors ranging from domestic violence and sex abuse to DUI and fraud.  An ineligible felony is any felony except failure to appear.  There is one exception to this default rule: a claim of “actual innocence.”  You can file this type of claim regardless of the crime you were arrested for so long as you were not convicted.  However, just because you were not convicted does not mean that the court will find that you are actually innocent of the crime.  You have the burden of proving that you are actually innocent of the crime you were arrested for.

How long you have to wait to file a motion to seal depends on the type of crime you are seeking to have sealed and whether you were convicted or your case was dismissed.  The more serious offenses carry a longer wait time.  Convictions, rather than dismissals, also carry a longer wait time.

If you file a motion to seal, not based on “actual innocence,” the judge will evaluate the motion on whether its in “the interest of public justice” to seal your record.  Under this analysis, the following rules apply regarding time you must wait to file:

If you were arrested or charged but not convicted for an eligible misdemeanor, you must wait at least 2 years since the case ended.

If you were arrested or charged but not convicted for an ineligible misdemeanor, you must wait at least 4 years since the case ended.

If you were convicted of an eligible misdemeanor or an eligible felony, you must wait at least 8 years since the completion of the sentence for that conviction.

For claims of actual innocence, you can file a motion to seal at any time.  Again, however, the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove actual innocence.  That means you need affidavits from witnesses or other type of proof to show you did not actually commit the crime you were arrested for.

What to put on a motion to seal depends on whether you are filing it based on “actual innocence” or because its “in the interest of public justice” that your record be sealed.

A motion to seal should include information about why you’re eligible to seal your records and any facts in support of your motion including a statement of points and authorities, evidence exhibits, affidavits, and supporting documents.

For motions filed after the appropriate waiting period (under the “interest of public justice standard”), the court considers numerous factors when deciding whether to seal your records including: (1) why you want to seal your records; (2) the community’s interests in keeping your records public; (3) the nature of the offense; (4) your role in the offense; and (5) your personal history and characteristics.  Furthermore, you must include information about all of your past arrests and convictions, and you must ask the court to also seal those records as well.

For claims of actual innocence, you must provide the court with proof that you are actually innocent.  As previously mentioned, that means affidavits or other competent evidence that you did not actually commit the crime you were arrested for.

Once you file your motion to seal, the court will conduct an initial review.  At this stage, the court may dismiss or deny your motion, without government response, if it plainly appears that you are not eligible or entitled relief.  If the court does not dismiss or deny your motion, it will then request that the government file a response within 60 to 90 days.

After the government files a response, the court will either issue a decision or conduct a hearing.  If the court holds a hearing, you and the government are allowed to present witnesses and other evidence to support your arguments.  After the hearing, the court will decide whether to grant or deny your motion.

If you file under the “interest of public justice” standard, the short answer is “yes.”  Unfortunately, sealed does not mean no longer in existence.  The good news though is that having your records sealed will narrow the list of people who can access your records.

If your records were sealed on the basis of actual innocence, they are only available by court order.  Plus, the person or entity attempting to obtain your records must demonstrate a compelling need for them.  Under this standard, the law tries to put you in the position you were in before getting arrested.

If your records were sealed on any other basis, they are available: (1) to a court, prosecutor, or law enforcement agency for any lawful purpose; (2) for use in civil litigation relating to the arrest or conviction; (3) upon court order, for good cause shown; (4) to licensing agencies, day care centers, educational facilities, child protection agencies, and certain government employers and nominating or tenuring commissions; and (5) to you or your authorized representatives.

When deciding whether you should file a motion to get your criminal records sealed, it is important that you hire a skilled DC Expungement attorney who will provide you with answers to any and all of your questions and concerns.  At Scrofano Law PC, we have successfully filed motions to seal on behalf of our clients and had their records expunged.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged, or convicted for any DC offense, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

Guns

A common, and unfortunate, scenario leading to a DC gun law violation involves an out-of-state driver who gets pulled over for a minor traffic violation and ends up with a slew of gun charges.  The driver has a legally registered gun but it is registered in another state.  Per your gun safety training, you probably tell the police officer that you have a firearm in the vehicle.  In your mind, you handled the traffic stop well and in accordance with the law, but now you are facing felony and misdemeanor gun charges because the officer will likely respond by arresting you.

In the District, it is a felony to carry a gun without a license.  But obtaining a license to carry in DC is nearly impossible.  For out-of-state residents, it is even more impossible to obtain a gun permit.  Many attorneys have recently started challenging the constitutionality of the DC’s gun licensing and registration scheme, including Scrofano Law PC. As a result, many felony gun charges have been dismissed so that the government can avoid the impending backlash.  However, the government typically charges separate misdemeanors as well, even though the same problem with trying to obtain a gun permit is still present.

To answer the question: you are in trouble because DC gun laws are extremely strict and you had no idea.

In this District, there are three main types of gun charges concerned with unregistered firearms:  Carrying a Pistol Without a License, Unregistered Firearm, and Unregistered Ammunition.

Carrying a Pistol Without a License (“CPWL”) is a felony offense.  To be convicted of CPWL, the government must prove that (1) you carried a gun on or about your person; (2) you did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident; and (3) you were not licensed to carry the gun in DC.

Possession of an Unregistered Firearm (“UF”) is a misdemeanor offense.  To be convicted of UF, the government must prove that you (1) possessed a firearm; (2) you did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident; and (3) your firearm was not registered in DC.

Possession of Ammunition (“UA”) is also a misdemeanor offense.  To be convicted of UA, the government must prove that you (1) possessed ammunition and (2) you did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident.  Under the UA statute, the government does not have to prove that you do not have a license to a carry a gun of the same caliber as the ammunition possessed because, under DC law, possession of ammunition is presumptively unlawful.

For the first element of the CPWL and UF statutes, the government must prove that you were actually carrying the weapon and/or ammo, or that you could easily access the weapon and/or ammo.  For the second element of the CPWL and UF statutes, the government must prove that you meant to carry the unlicensed gun and/or ammo.  For the third element of the CPWL and UF statutes, the government must prove that you did not have a license for the gun.

The fact that you don’t know about DC’s gun licensing and registration requirements is not a defense to a CPWL or UF violation.  However, as you learned in the answer to Question #1, the constitutionality of DC’s gun licensing and registration scheme has been under extreme scrutiny lately, and lawyers have gained a foothold in fighting a CPWL or UF convictions.  Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed outcome in any case but every piece of evidence the government has against you can be challenged.

To learn more about other DC weapons offense, see part 2 of FAQ: DC Weapons Offenses.

Unfortunately, for DC gun offenses, jail time is common, but payment of statutory fines is uncommon, although technically possible.  For a CPWL conviction, the maximum penalty is 5 years in jail and a $12,500 in fines.  A defendant with a prior gun convictions could face up to 10 years in jail and pay up to $25,000.

Judges consider DC’s voluntary sentencing guidelines for all felony convictions including CPWL.  If you will serve jail time and how much jail time you could get according to the sentencing guidelines depends on if you have any prior gun convictions.  Obviously first offenders will have an easier time with sentencing than prior offenders will. For first offenders, the best case scenario for a CPWL conviction is 1 to 5 years supervised probation.  The court will also order you to pay a contribution of $100 to $500 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Fund.

Both UF and UA convictions, carry up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.  There are no sentencing guidelines for misdemeanor charges, but whether or not you spend time in jail or pay fines depends on many circumstances in your case including how and why you were arrested, whether you have a criminal record, and whether your firearm was registered in another state.  For a UF or UA conviction, a common scenario is unsupervised probation for about 1 year, and a contribution of $50 to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Fund.

In DC gun violation cases, CPWL, UF, and UA are usually charged together. For first offenders the government will usually ask you to plea to the lead felony charge and drop the misdemeanor.  For first offenders with no criminal history, if you go to trial on the charges instead of taking the plea, the best sentence a judge could impose if convicted is 1 to 5 years supervised probation.  Sometimes the government will offer a misdemeanor plea that includes pleading guilty to the UF, UA, and “attempted” CPWL, which is a misdemeanor.

Because of the disparity in possible probation time and the risk of actual jail time, the government’s misdemeanor plea has been considered the golden ticket for many folks in this type of situation.  However, since the constitutionality of DC’s gun licensing and registration scheme has been called into question lately, trying your chances at trial might be a better option depending on the circumstances of the case.

Whether you should take a plea his highly dependent on the facts of your case and the types of priors you have.  Because any conviction can have lasting implications on your life, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced DC gun lawyer who will explain all of your options for you.

Needless to say, you have a lot more options if you are not convicted of CPWL, UF, or UA.  If you are not convicted of UF or UA, you can get your arrest record sealed after 2 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.  If you are not convicted of CPWL, you can get your arrest record sealed after 4 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.

Beyond record sealing, you could potentially sue the District of Columbia for damages in a civil case.  As mentioned numerous times in this post, the constitutionality of DC’s gun licensing and registration scheme is under immense scrutiny at the moment.  Many individuals feel as if they were wrongfully prosecuted under unconstitutional laws and they are seeking redress from the government for all of their unnecessary suffering.  For example, because of the pending charges against them, many people might lose hours and wages at work, some people even lose their jobs, people who are also students might get in trouble with their universities, and the list goes on and on.

Now, if you are convicted of CPWL, UF, or UA, you still have options!

Any person convicted of a crime through a trial has the right to appeal.

While an appeal may not be fruitful, you may be able to get your arrest and conviction record sealed.  Unfortunately, a CPWL conviction is labeled as an “ineligible felony” which means that you cannot get it sealed.  However, there is hope if you have a UF or UA conviction.  For a UF or UA conviction, you can get your arrest record and conviction sealed 8 years after you’ve completed your sentence, so long as you are not arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.

When faced with a possible DC CPWL, UF, and/or UA conviction, you may have more questions than the ones mentioned above and you may need more detailed answers.  It is imperative that you hire an experienced gun lawyer who will answer any and all of the questions you might have.  At Scrofano Law PC, we have helped numerous clients beat gun charges or get probation.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a D.C. Gun Offense, contact Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

Solicitation

To be convicted of Solicitation in the District, the government must prove (1) an agreement to exchange something of value (e.g. money) for (2) the purpose of engaging in a sexual act or sexual contact.  The government does not have to prove that payment was actually made, just that there was an agreement.

“Sexual Act” is defined as the penetration, however slight, of another by a penis, hand, finger, or by any object.  “Sexual Contact” is defined as the touching, either directly or through clothing, of another with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object.

The outcome of your case is largely dependent on your interactions with the undercover officers during a sting operation.  Undercover officers must establish that certain “magic words” were spoken between you before you can be arrested for Solicitation.  The magic words are generally your explicit statement of intent to exchange money for sexual favors or vice versa.  Because a lot of cops don’t record these interactions, it is often your word against the cop’s word in court.  Unfortunately, this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the surrounding circumstances.

The most common outcome of a Solicitation case is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement in which case you will not be convicted.  See Question #4 for more information about this type of agreement.  While there is no guaranteed outcome in any case, every piece of evidence the government has against you can be challenged.

Due to the undercover nature of MPD’s sting operations, many people arrested for solicitation attempt to assert an entrapment defense.  However, entrapment is a difficult defense to assert in a DC Solicitation case.

 

For example, in the District many taxi drivers become innocent targets of MPD solicitation stings.  Under DC laws, taxi drivers must pick up a patron waving down the taxi. What usually happens is an MPD officer posing as a prostitute will wave down a taxi and because it is the law, the taxi driver will stop to pick up who he or she assumes is just a person looking for a taxi.  The MPD officer will induce the taxi driver to engage in the solicitation of prostitution and then make an arrest when the taxi driver agrees to the arrangement.

 

You might be thinking that this is an example of an entrapment defense that is sure to win, well think again.  To assert an entrapment defense, you must first make a showing that MPD induced you to engage in the solicitation of prostitution.  Showing inducement can be challenging though because undercover officers are allowed to use various tactics to legally persuade you to engage in solicitation of prostitution.  Once a defendant makes an inducement showing, the government must then prove that the defendant was ready and willing to engage in the solicitation of prostitution.  Unfortunately, the police rarely record the sting operations, which leave the only evidence of the crime as the undercover officer’s version of what the parties supposedly said.

 

Because the entrapment defense is difficult, often times it is better to seek a Deferred Sentencing Agreement (see Question #4) or try and get the case dismissed on a discovery issue or otherwise.

In the District, jail time and payment of statutory fines are uncommon for Solicitation convictions.  Technically, both jail time and fines are possible though.  The amount of time and fines depends on whether you have prior Solicitation convictions.

First offenders face up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.  Second offenders can get up to 180 days in jail and/or have to pay up to $2,500 in fines.  A person convicted of Solicitation who has 2 or more prior Solicitation convictions faces up to 2 years in jail and $12,500 in fines.

While it is unlikely that you will spend time in jail or pay a statutory fine for Solicitation, you will likely get probation if convicted.  You will also have to pay a contribution of $50 to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Fund.

In DC Solicitation cases, the government will usually offer a first offender a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”).  What this means is that the case will get continued for 4 months during which time you will have to complete 32 hours of community service.  After 4 months, if you have completed the community service, the government will dismiss the case against you.  A DPA is ideal because you do not have to plead guilty.

If the government does not offer a DPA, they might offer the following deal: if you plead guilty to Solicitation, they will recommend that the judge impose probation.  As is the case with most government plea offers, this offer is anything but a deal.

If convicted at trial, judges will usually impose probation anyway for a DC solicitation case.  Therefore, it is better to go to trial because the likely result if you are convicted is probation.  While the facts of every case are different, you are generally better off rejecting the government’s “deal” and trying your luck at trial could be acquitted or possibly have the case dismissed because of a discovery violation or other reason.

Any person convicted of a crime has the right to an appeal.  Whether or not you should appeal depends on what you are looking to get out the situation.  Because of the tedious and time-consuming judicial process, it is likely that you will have already completed your sentence before your appeal is decided.  While you probably won’t avoid your sentence, you can achieve a moral victory by winning an appeal because your conviction would be overturned and erased from your record.

While an appeal may not be fruitful, you can get your arrest record sealed.  If you are not convicted of Solicitation of Prostitution, you can get your arrest record sealed after 2 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.  If you are convicted of Solicitation, you can get your arrest and conviction record sealed after 8 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.

When faced with a possible Solicitation or Prostitution related conviction, you may have more questions than the ones mentioned above and you may need more detailed answers.  It is important that you hire an experienced DC Solicitation and Prostitution lawyer who will answer any and all of the questions you might have.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a D.C. Solicitation, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

Hit and Run

If you were involved in an accident, or MPD suspects you of being involved, chances are you received a letter mandating that you go to the police station.  Immediately contact a lawyer.

You have a constitutional right not to incriminate yourself.  MPD sends these daunting letters, threatening to get a warrant to scare you into confessing.  What MPD won’t tell you is that they probably don’t have enough evidence to get a warrant which is why they need you to give them more details.  Do not give up your constitutional right against self-incrimination by talking to the police.  You will be much better situated if you refuse to speak with the police and hire an attorney who can protect your constitutional rights.

In the District, there are two types of LAC crimes.  The first involves property damage only.  The second involves property damage and injury to another person.  In general, the government must prove in either case that you left the scene of an accident without making your identity known.

The outcome of your case is largely dependent on numerous factors such as whether there was only property damage, whether there was a person involved in the collision, and whether there are eye witnesses.  In LAC cases, the government relies heavily on the testimony of eye witnesses.  Sometimes the government’s reliance on eye witnesses can be advantageous for you because eye witness accounts are unreliable and at times witnesses might not even show up to court.  Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed outcome in any case but every piece of evidence the government has against you can be challenged.

In the District, jail time and payment of statutory fines are uncommon for LAC convictions.  Technically, both jail time and fines are possible though.  The punishments for an LAC conviction depend on the type of LAC.

For an LAC involving only property damage, first offenders could face up to 30 days in jail and/or pay a fine up to $250.  Repeat offenders face up to 90 days incarceration and/or up to $500 in fines.  For an LAC involving property damage and personal injury, first offenders could face up to 180 days in jail and/or pay a fine up to $1,000.  Repeat offenders face up to 1 year incarceration and/or up to $2,500 in fines.  The most common sentence for an LAC conviction is 6 months to 1 year unsupervised probation.  If convicted, the court will also order you to pay a contribution of $50 to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Fund.

While it is unlikely that you will spend time in jail or pay a statutory fine for LAC, a conviction counts as 12 points on your license, which means that the DC DMV could revoke your driving privileges for up to 6 months.

In DC LAC cases, the government will usually offer the following plea deal: if you plead guilty to the LAC, they will recommend that the judge impose 1 year unsupervised probation.  But if you read the answer to Question #3, you already know that judges impose 1 year unsupervised probation in most LAC cases anyway.  So the government isn’t really offering you a deal now.

You may be better off rejecting the government’s “deal” and trying your luck at trial where you could avoid the draconian consequences of a conviction.  Trial is also ideal because witnesses in LAC cases tend to be unreliable and may not show up to court, which often lead case dismissals.

Lastly, a good DC LAC lawyer could try to convince the government to give you a Deferred Sentencing Agreement (“DSA”).  What this means is that you would plead guilty to the LAC and the government would recommend that sentencing be pushed back for a certain amount of time (usually 9 months).  During that time, the government might impose restrictions on your driving privileges, order you to complete community service, or take a traffic safety program.  After the recommended time period, you’ll return to court for sentencing, at which time your lawyer will move to withdraw your guilty plea and the government will dismiss the case.

Any person convicted of a crime has the right to appeal.  Whether or not you should appeal depends on what you are looking to get out the situation.  Because of the tedious and time-consuming judicial process, it is likely that you will have already completed your sentence before your appeal is decided.  While you probably won’t avoid your sentence, you can achieve a moral victory by winning an appeal because your conviction would be overturned and erased from your record.  A moral victory is a victory nonetheless, and you have a lot to gain from winning an appeal.

While an appeal may not be fruitful, you may be able to get your arrest and conviction record sealed.  If you are not convicted of an LAC, you can get your arrest record sealed after 2 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.  If you are convicted of an LAC, you can get your arrest and conviction record sealed after 8 years so long as you do not get arrested or convicted of another crime during that time.

When faced with a possible LAC conviction, you may have more questions than the ones mentioned above and you may need more detailed answers.  It is imperative that you hire an experienced LAC lawyer who will answer any and all of the questions you might have.  At Scrofano Law PC, we have helped numerous clients with all of their LAC questions.  While we can’t guarantee the outcome of your case, we can offer you predictability and reassurance every step of the way.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DC LAC, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

DUI

To be convicted of a DUI in the District, the government must prove that you were (1) operating a motor vehicle and that you were (2) intoxicated.  It goes without saying that the less evidence the government has against you, the better chance you have of avoiding conviction.  Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed outcome in any case.

The outcome of your case is largely dependent on numerous factors such as your interactions with the police the night of your arrest, how well you did on the field sobriety tests and the breathalyzer test, and whether you were involved in a collision.  Every piece of evidence the government has against you can be challenged and no case is impossible to win.

In the District, jail time and payment of statutory fines are uncommon for a DUI conviction.  Technically, both jail time and fines are possible though.  For a first offense DUI, you could face up to 180 days in jail and/or pay a fine up to $1,000.  Second time DUI offenders face up to 1 year incarceration and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Usually, there is no mandatory minimum jail time or fines for a first offense.  However, there are several provisions in the law that trigger mandatory minimum jail time and fines for first offenders and repeat offenders.

For first offenders, a 10-day mandatory minimum jail time is imposed if your BAC was .20 or higher; a 15-day mandatory minimum is imposed if your BAC was .25 or higher, or you tested positive for a Schedule I controlled substance; and a 20-day mandatory minimum is imposed if your BAC was .30 or higher.

If you are a second time DUI offender, there is 10-day mandatory minimum and it increases if your BAC was .20 or higher.  There is a $2,500 mandatory minimum fine for subsequent DUIs after the first.  Any additional DUIs automatically increase the mandatory minimum jail time you could serve if convicted.  The possibility of jail time also increases if you were involved in a collision.  Furthermore, although it is highly unlikely that you will have to pay statutory fines if convicted, the caveat is that, more likely than not, the court will order you to pay a contribution of $100 to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Fund.

In a DC DUI case, more often than not, an offender is charged with Driving Under the Influence and Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI”).  Usually, the government will offer a DUI offender the following plea deal: if you plead to the DUI and the government will dismiss the OWI.  This seems like a good deal because one charge is better than two charges, right?  That’s what the government wants you to think.  This plea offer is anything but a deal though.

What the government won’t tell you is that both charges merge anyway, so ultimately, you end up facing just the DUI charge.  You are no better off agreeing to this type of plea offer than you would be if you took the case to trial and lost.  But, you have no chance of winning if you plea.  Whether the government will offer a DUI offender another type of plea deal depends on if the DUI involved a collision, if the breathalyzer scores exceeded a certain limit, if the offender has any prior DUI convictions, and other various factors.

Any person convicted of a crime has the right to an appeal.  Whether or not you should appeal depends on what you are looking to get out the situation.  Because of the tedious and time-consuming judicial process, it is likely that you will have already completed your sentence before your appeal is decided.  While you probably won’t avoid your sentence, you can achieve a moral victory by winning an appeal because your conviction would be overturned and erased from your record.  A moral victory is a victory nonetheless, and you have a lot to gain from winning an appeal.

Aside from your option to appeal, unfortunately, you don’t have many other options if you are convicted of a DC DUI.  Under DC law, a DUI conviction is labeled as an ineligible misdemeanor which means that you cannot get the record of your DUI sealed, expunged, or otherwise taken off your record completely.  However, you can get a DUI arrest sealed after four years if you do not get convicted.

More likely than not, your run in with the law is probably something that you don’t want other people to find out about.  You’re human and you make mistakes but you would probably prefer to keep this mistake under wraps.  Unfortunately, many employers, educational institutions, etc. mandate that you inform them of any arrests, pending charges, and convictions on your record.  It is probably best to ask your boss, school, etc. if disclosure is necessary before informing them of sensitive information.

When faced with a possible DUI conviction, you may have more questions than the ones mentioned above and you may need more detailed answers.  It is imperative that you hire an experienced DUI lawyer who will answer any and all of the questions you might have.  At Scrofano Law PC, we have helped numerous clients with all of their DUI questions.  While we can’t guarantee the outcome of your case, we can offer you predictability and reassurance every step of the way.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DC DUI, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation.

Arrest Procedures

When someone is arrested in DC, the police will either release the person from the station after processing or hold them to see a judge in Superior Court.  If they are held to see a judge, the police will take them to Central Cellblock.

Central Cellblock is located next to DC Superior Court at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters.

The contact information for Central Cellblock is:

300 Indiana Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-4222
Fax: (202) 727-2230

If the arrestee has no criminal record and is arrested for a non-domestic violence misdemeanor, they are eligible to get released from the police station with a citation to return to court.

The police will hold the arrested person for a few hours, booked, finger-print the person, process them, and ultimately let them go at the station the station.

On the other hand, if the police arrest the person for a felony charge, they are not eligible for release at the police station.  If arrested for a felony, the police must book the arrestee and then send them to MPD Central Cellblock.  The police will then transfer the person from Central Cellblock to Superior Court lockup so the judge can determine whether the release the person with conditions or hold them without bond.

Certain misdemeanor crimes also require the arrestee see a judge before they can be released.  These include domestic violence crimes and misdemeanor arrests that stem from a judge signed arrest warrant.

Unless the person gets arrested at 6 or 7 in the morning, they will likely spend at least a night in jail if arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor not eligible for citation release.  If arrested on a Saturday, that person will likely not get released until Monday afternoon during lockup.

Many misdemeanor charges are eligible for release at the police station.  These charges include DUI, DWI, and OWI, solicitation, simple assault, hit and run (or leaving after colliding), using a fake ID, most traffic crimes, and unlawful entry.  However, other factors may impact whether the person arrested gets released at the station or processed and held at Central Cellblock.

What are some reasons the police will not release someone arrested for a misdemeanor offense at the station?

As previously stated, not all misdemeanor arrests are eligible for release at the police station with a citation to return to court.  As mentioned, a specific misdemeanor charge will lead to getting booked through lockup, including certain gun charges.  At other times, a person who has a criminal record may not be released if they have an existing pending criminal case.  Another scenario is where a judge signs and issues an arrest warrant, regardless of the charge, the arrestee must go through lockup.

In addition, any arrest for domestic violence usually requires the police to book the person through lockup and to go before a judge before getting released.  These types of arrests usually include simple assault, destruction of property, unlawful entry, theft, and threats and any charge where the complaining witness is an intrafamily member.  In addition, gun misdemeanors including unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition usually do not qualify for citation release.

Finally, if a person is on probation, parole, supervised release, or has another pending criminal case in DC, they generally must also go through Central Cellblock then lockup.

Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Police Department will not permit a family member to visit a friend or loved one at Central Cellblock.  However, if you hire a DC criminal defense attorney, the police will allow the attorney to visit and meet the arrested person face to face.  At Scrofano Law PC, we will visit a family member and your behalf night or day on a Saturday, Sunday, or otherwise.

As experienced DUI and criminal defense lawyers, we have seen that one of the worst experiences in the DC criminal justice system is getting arrested on a Saturday for a crime that is not eligible for citation release.  However, we absolutely will go to Central Cellblock on your behalf to let your friend or loved one know that you support them and someone is ready to fight for their rights.

If a friend, family member, or loved one gets arrested for a DUI or criminal charge in DC, contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.  We can help you find your loved one and tell you when they will likely get released from custody.

Scrofano Law PC Aspiring Public Defender Scholarship

Scholarship Amount: $1,500.00

Eligibility Criteria:

  • 1st or 2nd year law student;
  • Interest in legal career representing individuals rather than institutions
  • Employed in summer position at a public defender’s office
  • Deadline: June 1 each year
  • Application Requirements: Resume, Transcript, Offer letter or other proof of internship at PDS that indicates whether paid or unpaid

In addition, please include an essay on the following topic.

As a public defender or private criminal defense lawyer, you will often be asked the question: how can you defend people you know are guilty? Respond to that question in 500-700 words.

SUBMIT ALL APPLICATION MATERIALS IN PDF FORMAT TO SCHOLARSHIP@SCROFANOLAW.COM