DC Assault On A Police Officer (APO) Lawyer

According to DC Code Section 22-405, it is illegal to assault a police officer. Although the definition of assault seems straightforward, it can be misleading.

Typically, an assault involves an unlawful touching of another person or placing a person in fear of immediate physical harm.

However, under this law, assault has a broader meaning. The term “assault” also includes resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with an officer.

Due to this broader definition, if you are accused of this offense it is important you contact a DC assault on a police officer lawyer as soon as possible as this is a serious charge that can have major consequences to your future. An assault lawyer in DC can advocate on your behalf and help you avoid the serious repercussions associated with this charge, call today.

Definition of a Police Officer

The term “police officer” in DC Code Section 22-405 refers to a member of a police force that is authorized and operating in the District of Columbia. This includes law enforcement officers such as:

  • Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
  • Fire departments
  • Licensed special police
  • Reserve officers in a DC correctional or penal institution
  • University or campus police
  • Officers or employees supervising juveniles
  • Pretrial service officers charged with completing intake, community supervision, or assessment

Misdemeanor vs Felony DC APO Charges

Depending on the circumstances of a DC assault on a police officer case, the charge can be a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor charge occurs when a person is accused of trying or committing an assault or:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Opposing the officer
  • Impeding the officer’s duties
  • Intimidating the officer

A felony DC assault on a peace officer charge meanwhile involves causing, or creating the grave risk of causing, significant bodily injury to the police officer. Significant bodily injury refers to physical harm that goes beyond minor cuts and bruises. A misdemeanor charge will increase to a felony charge if the violent act creates a grave risk of causing significant bodily harm to the officer.

In either a misdemeanor or felony case, the officer must be engaged in the performance of his or her official duties when the assault takes place.

Possible Penalties Associated with An APO Conviction

Anyone convicted of a DC Assault on a Police Officer charge may face jail time. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 180 days in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.

A felony conviction could get you up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine or both.

The above penalties are possible outcomes of a DC assault on a police officer charge. Being charged with an assault on a peace officer does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of the crime.  A DC prosecutor must prove the allegations against you by proving that:

  • You either knew or had reason to believe that the accuser was a police officer
  • You assaulted, intimidated, resisted, or otherwise interfered with the officer
  • Your actions were voluntary and purposeful, rather than a mistake or accident
  • The alleged victim was actually an authorized, lawful police officer.
  • The police officer was engaged in his official duties at the time the offense took place

Possible Defenses to an APO Charge

Your DC APO lawyer will build a defense for you and attack the prosecutor’s evidence. The statute pertains only to acts that are not justified or excusable. Keep in mind that the statute does not permit any justification or excuse for resisting arrest. However, your lawyer may have some possible defenses that you can use to challenge that charge.

Self Defense

Self-defense is NOT a defense to an Assault on a Police Officer charge, UNLESS:

  • The officer used more force than reasonably necessary under the circumstances
  • You respond using only the amount of force that is reasonably necessary for your protection

A person is not legally justified in assaulting or resisting a police officer even if the officers were engaging in an unlawful stop or arrest.  However,  if your DC assault on an officer attorney is able to successfully challenge any one of the required elements of the crime, your charges could be reduced or dismissed entirely.

Body Cameras

In the future, body cameras may play a large role as the footage would reveal whether the defendant did actually assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with the law enforcement officer’s duties. It would also reveal whether the law enforcement officer used excessive force in effectuating a stop or detaining a defendant.

Additionally, as body cameras become more prominent and more people learn that officers in D.C. are equipped with body cameras, there may be a decrease in the assault on police officer cases as the defendants or potential defendants would be more aware that they are on camera.

Police officers knowing that their actions are being recorded may also have an incentive to accurately describe the incident as it truly happened.

How a DC Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer Can Help

Your defense depends on the facts of your case—this is why you should contact a lawyer to represent you. Each DC assault on a police officer charge comes down to whether the prosecution has enough evidence to prove its case and the defense that your assault on a peace officer lawyer will use.

A DC assault on a peace officer charge may seem like a minor charge, but it can have a major impact on your future. Talk to a lawyer about your legal options today.