Shawn Sukumar

Washington, DC Criminal Defense Lawyer

A Personalized Approach to Criminal Defense

Every day, various criminal offenses are charged in the District of Columbia. However, each case is unique and deserves a custom approach in crafting a strong defensive strategy. At Price Benowitz, we pride ourselves on maintaining personal contact with our clients, providing regular updates, and continually seeking new avenues of defense.

DC criminal defense attorneys have comprehensive experience with arrest warrants, white collar crimes, federal offenses, and a variety of other charges. Some of the most common cases that we handle involve driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcoholdrug and gun possession offenses, assault, sex crimes, domestic violenceburglary, and theft-related offenses such as fraud and robbery. No matter the charge, our dedicated legal staff can focus on meeting your needs and work relentlessly to reach a positive outcome for your specific case.

Prompt Action is the Best Option

The sooner you begin working with a dedicated DC criminal defense lawyer, the sooner your attorney can begin advising on what actions to take and what to avoid in order to improve the outlook for your case.

Additionally, your lawyer may assist in the process of collecting and preserving valuable evidence that could form the foundation of a solid defense. However, evidence such as video footage may only be available for a short time, and witnesses become harder to locate as time passes. It is best to seek immediate legal help after an incident to preserve this information.

At the end of the day, 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 how they could assist in your particular situation and start the process of securing your defense.

The Role of a Local Defense Attorney

The legal field is vast, particularly in DC. Just as you would rely on a specialist to treat a serious medical condition, you should trust an experienced DC criminal defense attorney to handle your legal battles for alleged crimes. In our practice, we rigorously research the latest developments in all areas of criminal law and procedure so we can pursue the best results for our clients.

In the DC criminal justice system, prosecutors are experienced in handling local court cases. Those facing criminal charges deserve seasoned legal defense in the community to protect their interests. When you work with Price Benowitz, your DC defense attorney could anticipate and preempt prosecuting maneuvers that may jeopardize your case.

Additionally, our team is experienced in investigating the facts of a situation to uncover exonerating evidence, which we could present in a favorable light either in negotiations or court. We are always on the lookout to challenge procedural missteps and illegalities on the part of the police, investigators, or prosecutors.

Most importantly, your lawyer could thoroughly explain the legal processes in DCwhat to expect from your case, 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.

Criminal Law in DC

Like most of the U.S., Washington DC derives its scheme of criminal law from 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, these are all contained in a legal code. The legal system of DC functions 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 and 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. To thoroughly understand when conduct crosses the line, it is necessary to know how courts have interpreted these statutes in the past, because past interpretations provide legal precedent that is often binding on future cases.

Therefore, 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. They must also understand how to hold police and prosecutors accountable for violations of procedural, statutory, or Constitutional protections.

Requirements for Criminal Convictions

Our system of criminal law rests on the concept that every person facing charges is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution. Most crimes consist of numerous elements that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a guilty verdict.

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 a person of theft, the prosecution must prove that they:

  • 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 any element, or if the defense can establish doubt about their proof, 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 or deprive the owner of the property.

Many criminal statutes describe numerous ways an offense may be committed. For example, the crime of shoplifting 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. However, all of these actions must be done “knowingly” and with intent to defraud the property owner or take the property without paying.

Key Terms in Proving Criminal Cases

Intent

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

Recklessness

In some instances, the prosecution must prove that an individual acted recklessly rather than knowingly, meaning the person consciously disregarded a substantial risk of harm. 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 cases where neither knowing intent nor reckless conduct is required for a violation, the prosecution may still need to prove that a person acted in a criminally negligent manner. With respect to laws regarding 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.”

Victim’s State of Mind

Some criminal laws also require a prosecutor to prove a defendant’s intent to create a certain response from an alleged victim. One example is in the case of stalking, as defined in D.C. Code §21-3133. This offense occurs when someone engages in a course of conduct targeted toward a particular person, but the pattern of behavior must meet one of three criteria in order to constitute stalking.

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. Alternatively, they 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.

However, a persuasive criminal defense attorney could represent the accused to ensure that their intentions are not misconstrued. When presenting arguments on state of mind, it is necessary to retain a legal advocate with experience in this particular area of criminal law.

A DC Criminal Lawyer Could be Your Lifeline

By enlisting the help of an experienced defense lawyer, you are making an investment in your future. An attorney with experience across the breadth of DC criminal cases could provide valuable guidance to ensure that your rights are protected. Give yourself a dedicated legal advocate who is committed to representing you and your interests.

Through investigation, your lawyer may be able to highlight evidence that might have otherwise been overlooked or under-emphasized in court. For minor offenses, swift legal action by a savvy attorney could even help reduce or dismiss charges altogether.

However, delays in seeking legal counsel could reduce your chances for success. If you are facing charges or wish to learn more about criminal defense in Washington, D.C., reach out to a knowledgeable attorney today.

When your freedom and reputation is at stake, trust a law firm with a strong track record and demonstrable case results. Call Price Benowitz for a free initial consultation on your particular situation.

Clearing a DC Criminal Record

Even if your case was dismissed, criminal records often continue to haunt those who have been arrested. These records remain visible to potential employers, landlords, banks, and anyone else who searches for them.

Luckily, an experienced DC criminal defense lawyer could advise on 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
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Shawn Sukumar Attorney at Law
1826 Jefferson Pl NW
#205

Washington DC 20036
DC Criminal Lawyer