Our Practice Areas

Washington, DC Criminal Defense Lawyer

Legal Coverage for all Types of Criminal Charges

A wide array of criminal offenses are charged every day in the District of Columbia. Some of the most common offenses include driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol; drug and gun possession offenses; assault; sex crimes; domestic violence; burglary; and theft-related offenses such as fraud and robbery.

DC criminal defense attorneys have comprehensive experience with arrest warrants, white collar crimes, federal offenses, and a variety of other issues as well.

Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorneys

Every case is unique, and we take a custom approach to crafting a defensive strategy that builds on the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of each case. We pride ourselves on maintaining personal contact with our clients, providing updates and continually seeking new avenues of defense.

Our extensive experience serving clients in and out of the courtroom enables us to evaluate circumstances with a practiced eye to determine the best options for your situation. With our dedicated legal staff, we remain focused on meeting your needs throughout the process and we work relentlessly to reach a positive outcome in each case.

Prompt Action is the Best Option

Choosing an attorney to represent your interests and protect your future can be a daunting task, but it is a job better tackled sooner than later. When you start working with a dedicated DC criminal defense lawyer, your attorney can begin providing advice right away regarding actions to take—and what to avoid—to improve the outlook for your case.

Your attorney could also begin advocating on your behalf during all proceedings, both formal and informal. Representation by a seasoned legal counselor provides an invaluable advantage in protecting your rights.

In addition, your lawyer may assist in the process of collecting and preserving valuable evidence that will provide the building blocks for a solid defense. Evidence such as video footage may only be available for a short time after an incident, so it is best to seek and preserve this information as soon as possible.

As time passes, witnesses become harder to locate and the appearance of the alleged crime scene is likely to change, which means evidence may be more scarce and less reliable.

Overall, delays in securing legal representation could prove very costly to your case. It is advisable to schedule an initial consultation with a law firm to learn more about how they could assist in your particular situation and determine whether they would be a good partner in the defensive process.

Criminal Defense in Washington, DC

The legal field is vast, particularly in DC. Lawyers may practice in family law, personal injury law, contract law, corporate law, tort law, intellectual property law, or criminal law. Even within these broad fields, an attorney may choose a narrower focus in terms of which types of cases to handle within those realms.

Just as you would rely on a specialist to treat a serious medical condition, you should rely on an experienced DC criminal defense attorney to handle your legal battle when it involves criminal law. Crimes often have unique defenses, so it is important that your legal team understands the variety of options that may be available to win your case.

For a strong defense and to avoid the common pitfalls those in the criminal justice system often face, it is wise to find a criminal lawyer in DC who is experienced in defending challenging cases. At Price Benowitz, the DC criminal defense lawyers have worked with clients on a wide range of criminal offenses from DUIs to homicide and everything in between. And we endeavor to keep abreast of the latest developments in all areas of criminal law and procedure, so we can put that knowledge to work for our clients.

Benefits of Working with an Experienced DC Criminal Attorney

In the DC criminal justice system, prosecutors gain vast amounts of experience handling cases in the local courts. Those required to defend themselves against criminal charges deserve to have the same experience fighting to protect their interests.

When you work with a seasoned DC criminal lawyer, your attorney could anticipate and preempt prosecuting maneuvers that may jeopardize your case. In addition, your lawyer could thoroughly explain the process, so you know what to expect and how to evaluate your options. While there are no magic tricks of the trade, experienced guidance can give you an advantage when navigating the criminal justice system.

In addition, our investigative team is capable of conducting a thorough investigation into the facts of the case to uncover exonerating evidence. Then we take steps to ensure that evidence is presented in the most favorable light either in negotiations or in court.

We are always on the lookout to challenge procedural missteps and illegalities on the part of the police, investigators, or prosecutors. Even if you are a witness to a crime, contact a knowledgeable defense attorney in DC today.

Areas Where DC Criminal Defense Attorneys May Assist

The breadth and depth of practice at our firm enables us to strenuously defend the interests of clients in all types of criminal matters. Although the law treats some offenses more harshly than others, we believe that every criminal charge deserves a serious defense, because even a “minor” crime could have a major impact on your life.

Our attorneys have assisted clients with a wide range of criminal offenses including:

  • Theft crimes and other property offenses
  • Violent crimes such as assault
  • Gun crimes
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • White collar crimes such as fraud, identity theft, and embezzlement
  • Sex crimes
  • Traffic-related offenses
  • Drug offenses

In addition, DC criminal defense attorneys are prepared to handle numerous types of appeals, even if our attorneys did not assist with the case during the initial trial. The procedures and strategies for appealing a lower court’s decision are vastly different from those used in an initial criminal trial, so anyone seeking to appeal a ruling is advised to work with a legal team experienced handling cases at the appellate level.

Criminal Law in DC

Washington DC, like much of the rest of the country, derives the basis of its scheme of criminal law from the English common law, but uses statutory provisions to define many specific crimes.

Under the common law system, laws are defined and applied based on past court rulings referred to as precedent. In a system based on statutory law, the laws are all contained in a legal code. The criminal laws of DC function with a combination of both common law and statutory law.

Because the Code of the District of Columbia contains provisions defining many criminal offenses and penalties as well as describing criminal procedure, the statutes provide the starting point for understanding what is and is not prohibited under criminal law in DC. These are found in Title 22 and Title 23 of the D.C. Code.

But to thoroughly understand when conduct crosses the line, it is necessary to be familiar with how courts have interpreted these statutes in the past, because past interpretations provide legal precedent that is often binding on future cases.

So effective criminal defense attorneys in DC must not only know the laws as set forth in the code, but also the interpretations of those laws in different types of circumstances. Moreover, they must also understand how to follow the rules of criminal procedure, and how to hold police and prosecutor accountable for violations of procedural, statutory, or Constitutional protections.

What the Prosecution Must Prove to Gain a Conviction

Our system of criminal law is premised on the concept that every person facing charges is presumed innocent until the government prosecutor proves they are guilty of the offense at issue. The definitions of most crimes consist of numerous elements, and the prosecutor must  produce evidence proving each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove that the accused individual is guilty of the crime.

For instance, the definition of theft in D.C. Code §22-3211 specifies that “A person commits the offense of theft if that person wrongfully obtains or uses the property of another with intent to deprive the other of a right to the property or a benefit of the property; or to appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of a third person.” So, in order to convict someone of theft, the prosecution must prove that the person:

  • Obtained or used property
  • The property belonged to another
  • The use or taking was committed wrongfully
  • The person who took or used the property intended to either appropriate the property or deprive the owner of the property

Evidence must be presented to prove each of these elements. If the prosecution fails to prove an element, or if the defense can create doubt about the proof of an element, then the person accused could not be found guilty of the offense.

In the example of theft, the defense might argue that the person accused took the property to protect it from harm and intended to replace it so that there was no intent to appropriate the property or deprive the owner of it.

Many criminal statutes describe numerous ways an offense may be committed. The crime of shoplifting, for example, may be committed under D.C. Code §3213 by either concealing property, taking possession of property, removing price tags or other identifying marks, altering price tags or other identifying marks, or changing the container in which the property is displayed.

All of these actions must be taken “knowingly” and with intent to defraud the property owner or appropriate the property without the full amount of payment.

State of Mind Can Be Crucial in Criminal Cases


Intent or another state of mind is a required element in many criminal offenses, so proof regarding state of mind often plays a key role in defending against criminal charges. Sometimes the prosecution must demonstrate that a person acted with specific intent to cause harm or achieve another objective.


In some instances, it is necessary to prove that an individual acted recklessly. For example, D.C. Code §50 50–2201.04(b) prohibits reckless driving, which the statute defines as driving “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others, or without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger a person or property.”

Criminal Negligence

In still other situations, neither specific intent or nor reckless conduct is required for a violation, but the person accused must be acting in a criminally negligent manner. With respect to laws concerning criminal abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults, criminal negligence is defined in D.C. Code §22-934 as failing to discharge a duty to provide care to a vulnerable adult or elderly person “knowingly, willfully or through a wanton, reckless or willful indifference.”

The Victim’s State of Mind

Finally, sometimes the state of mind at issue is not that of the person accused of criminal behavior but of the person allegedly victimized by that behavior. The offense of stalking, for instance, as defined in D.C. Code §21.-3133 occurs when someone engages in a course of conduct targeted toward a particular person.

In order for the pattern of conduct to constitute stalking, it must meet one of three possible criteria. The prosecution could show that the accused person engaged in conduct with the specific intent to cause the target to feel fearful, alarmed, or emotionally distressed.

Or the prosecution could show that the accused individual undertook the pattern of conduct knowing that it would reasonably cause the targeted person to feel fearful, alarmed, or emotionally distressed.

Finally, the prosecution may also demonstrate that the accused person “should have known” that the course of conduct “would cause a reasonable person in the individual’s circumstances” to feel fearful, alarmed, or emotionally distressed.

Benefits of Working With a DC Criminal Lawyer

There are a number of great reasons to work with a defense attorney in Washington, DC, who understands the layout and procedure of a wide variety of criminal cases.

By signing on with an experienced DC criminal lawyer, you are making an investment in your own future by giving yourself access to a dedicated legal advocate who could provide advice and representation at all stages of the proceedings, from start to finish.

Your lawyer may be able to investigate your case and bring to light evidence that might otherwise have been overlooked or under-emphasized during your court case.

In the event that your charges are fairly minor, swift action on the part of your attorney could even make it possible for the charges to be greatly reduced, or even dismissed altogether. But delays may reduce your chances for success.

The bottom line is that you should seek out a DC criminal lawyer who has experience dealing with cases like yours and who has a demonstrable track record that can be traced from client reviews and case results.

If you are interested in speaking with the DC criminal defense attorneys at our firm to learn how we can assist in your case, you may call our law offices and complete your free initial consultation today.

Clearing a DC Criminal Record

Long after the disposition of a criminal case, a criminal record often haunts those who have been arrested, even if the case was dropped. Records of an arrest remain visible to potential employers, landlords, banks and anyone else who undertakes a search. So, it is wise to take steps to have this record sealed.
An experienced DC criminal defense lawyer could advise you whether you are eligible to have your records expunged and help with the process. In some instances, even those with convictions can take steps to clean up their records, reducing the potential for social and professional stigma.

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DC Criminal Lawyer

DC Criminal Lawyer
Shawn Sukumar Attorney at Law
1826 Jefferson Pl NW

Washington DC 20036
DC Criminal Lawyer