Treatment of DC Assault Offenses in Court

As daunting as a violent charge may be when accused, you can benefit from an experienced assault lawyer‘s knowledge of the expected treatment of DC assault offenses in court. Even in relatively minor assault cases that consist of nothing more than a minimal scuffle between two people at a bar, police may make an arrest in many of these cases. Prosecutors file charges frequently and move forward with prosecution. This can be surprising to many people who wonder why prosecutors have an interest in relatively minor scuffles.

How is a Misdemeanor Assault Treated in Court?

Through defense investigations and negotiations with prosecutors, a misdemeanor simple assault filed against someone with a minimal criminal history can be eligible for a diversion agreement that requires the person to comply with specific conditions in exchange for having their charges completely dismissed.

A diversion agreement is not guaranteed in every case. The defense attorney has the responsibility to discuss potential diversion options with the individual to see if a diversion agreement is possible and whether one is advisable.

Understanding the Role of a Diversion Agreement

When a diversion agreement is possible, the defense attorney can discuss the options with prosecutors and negotiate for the possible dismissal of the person’s charges. Higher level assault cases such as felony assault or aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon are generally not eligible for diversion agreements. Prosecutors treat the cases more severely and often request harsher conditions of release.

In many situations, the prosecutor requests penalties that include months or even years of prison time. Defense attorneys have an obligation to conduct a rigorous investigation and aggressively explore defense arguments, locate witnesses, analyze and understand the evidence that prosecutors plan on using, and make all possible arguments including the possibility of trying the case before a jury to secure the best possible result in the case.

What Role do Prosecutor’s Play in Court?

The treatment of DC assault offenses in court can refer to the way prosecutors behave during a trial. Because DC assault cases are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the prosecutors are well-resourced with a significant amount of funding and scores of prosecutors handling every different level of case.

Prosecutors have the benefit of the assistance of police to do their investigation. There are enough resources to be able to move forward on everything from minor bar fights all the way up to felony level aggravated assault with alleged serious injuries.

Aggravating vs. Mitigating Factors in an Assault Case

The most common aggravating factor in assault cases is the level of injury supposedly suffered by an accuser. Minimal injuries are usually treated as a misdemeanor simple assault case that subjects the person to lower level penalties, a smaller chance of incarceration, smaller fines, less restrictive conditions of release, and a higher chance of a favorable negotiated resolution.

In situations where severe injuries such as broken bones, loss of consciousness, severe pain or required immediate hospitalization are alleged in an assault, prosecutors use those factors to increase a person’s charges and seek higher level penalties that include months or even years of possible incarceration.

What is the Impact of an Aggravating Factor?

Other aggravating factors that can increase the severity of a person’s criminal situation include some characteristics of an accuser. When someone is accused of committing an assault against a person because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin; the prosecutor can pursue a biased enhancement which increases the maximum possible penalties the person faces if convicted at trial. Other enhancements are based on the age of the complainant or the use of a weapon to commit an assault.

In contrast, a number of mitigating factors can potentially reduce a person’s sentence, reduce their charges, or in some situations serve as complete defenses. A defense attorney always wants to know about their client’s background including employment and family history, and any drug addiction that helps explain the person’s conduct.

Role of Mental Health Issues

A person’s mental health background is relevant to the treatment of DC assault offenses in court as it contributes to the outcome of the case. A person’s mental health issues can explain their actions and be helpful to obtain treatment. The person’s mental health can be used to explore alternative options to lengthy incarceration periods. A person’s background that includes those types of factors can be relevant even in situations where a person does not have a legal defense against the charges. They serve to minimize penalties, a reduced incarceration period, reduced charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, and in general minimize the long-term consequences to a person’s life.