DC Assault with Significant Injury Defense Strategies

There are several strategic defenses a DC assault attorney can help their client with, in the instance of an assault with significant injury case. One of the most common types of defenses in any assault case, including charges of assault with significant bodily injury in DC, is self-defense.

If you are facing charges of significant injury assault, you will need someone to build your defense as soon as possible to mitigate any potential penalties you may be facing.


Self-defense means that a person acted as a result of an imminent fear of injury and in response to that imminent fear of injury was proportionate to the harm that they face. Imminent fear of injury means that a person has to reasonably believe that they are just about to be injured. That means that the person cannot think that a person might injure them sometime in the future, they believe that they might be attacked and need to be a fear of an imminent injury. The response to that fear must be proportionate to the harm posed by the other person.

For example, a person cannot respond to a slap in the face by shooting the other person in the head. The response must be proportionate to the harm faced. Assault with significant bodily injury is subjected to the affirmative defense of self-defense. That means when a defendant who raises the defense saying they were acting in self-defense, the prosecutors bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense during an assault of significant injury. This means that no defendant is ever put in the position of bearing the burden of proving that their actions were in self-defense. The prosecutors always bear the burden of proving that an assault with significant bodily injury was not committed at all.

Incomplete Self-Defense Claim

One way to mitigate an assault with significant bodily injury case in DC is to minimize the penalties that a person may face upon conviction, but that is sometimes to argue that their client has an incomplete self-defense claim. An incomplete self-defense claim means that a person argued that they acted in self-defense or may not have met the exact requirements of that defense. One of the most common situations where incomplete self-defense arguments are made to mitigate a person’s penalties, is where a person may have subjectively acted in self-defense but not objectively. Meaning, in their mind, they honestly believe that they were stating imminent harm, but that harm may not actually be imminent or may not have been a reasonable fear of harm.

Reasonable Fear of Harm

A person may have acted unreasonably, but honestly believes that they were facing some kind of imminent harm. In a situation like that, a person may not be acquitted of the assault with significant bodily injury offense, because the prosecutors were able to prove their self-defense argument. The incomplete self-defense argument can also serve to mitigate their damages by making the argument that a person who honestly believes they were facing a risk of serious harm is not as culpable for the actions that person who did not have that motive, and as a result, should not be the same penalties as someone who acted without that fear. Another way to mitigate an assault with significant bodily injury conviction with a defense in DC is by making an incomplete self-defense argument is if the defendant’s actions were proportionate to the fear of harm that they face.

One example is a person who is assaulted by the alleged victim and responds to that assault in an attempt to defend themselves, but uses more force than would be necessary to refuse that harm. For example, if a person is assaulted but uses a dangerous weapon to respond to that assault when it was not necessary to do so, this may not qualify as a self-defense claim, but the fact that the defendant was not the initial aggressor can be used to attempt to minimize a person’s sentence on the argument that such a person would not be the initial aggressor should not be subjected to the same penalty as the person who was the initial aggressor.