DC Aggravated Assault Penalties

Aggravated assault charges in DC can have extensive and expensive consequences and penalties. A person convicted of aggravated assault can face imprisonment for up to 10 years and could face fines of up to $25,000. If a person is convicted of an attempt to aggravated assault, they face up to five years of prison, up to $12,500 or both. If a person is convicted of aggravated assault while armed, they could face up to 30 years of prison, a fine of up to $75,000, or both.

The penalties for aggravated assault in DC should be taken very seriously by those facing charges. An aggravated assault attorney is essential is helping someone mitigate or evade these potential penalties.

Mandatory Penalties For Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault charges are considered to be extremely serious under DC law. Washington, DC does not have first, second, or third degree assault charges. The most serious levels of assault consist of the penalties associated with aggravated assault charges and aggravated assault while armed charges.

If a person is convicted of aggravated assault, the District’s voluntary sentencing guidelines recommend the imposition of at least some period of jail or prison time. Under the voluntary guidelines, judges have the option of splitting up a person’s penalties whereby that person could serve part of their sentence as jail time and part of their sentence on probation as opposed to serving one lengthy prison sentence.

That possibility depends on a number of factors, most importantly on the person’s criminal history. When a person has minimal criminal history, even in an aggravated assault situation, a conviction could result in a shorter split sentence including a shorter period of jail time followed by a period of probation.

However, if a person is convicted of aggravated assault while armed, the severity of that kind of conviction means that the voluntary sentencing guidelines do not recommend probation even when a person has no criminal history. That level of conviction includes penalties as severe as multiple years of straight prison time followed by additional years of supervised release or parole. Probationary periods are not recommended under DC’s sentencing guidelines in an aggravated assault while armed scenarios.

Long-Term Consequences

Aggravated assault, which in other jurisdictions may be referred to as first-degree assault because of the severity of the penalties, include the possibility of lengthy prison sentences and long probationary or parole periods. Even after the completion of a person’s sentence, they can experience difficulties gaining employment, finding a place to live, and maintaining custody of children. In addition, there are possible consequences to a non-citizen’s ability to stay in the United States.

Importance of An Attorney

The severity of an aggravated assault charge should not be underestimated. These cases are extremely serious and are prosecuted vigorously. The person charged with an aggravated assault and their attorneys need to treat the charges with a high level of care and attention. The defense attorney and their client must diligently pursue the case to minimize the possibility of long-term penalties like prolonged prison sentences, loss of employment, and potentially the deportation or exclusion from the country for people who are not US citizens.

Potential Defenses

Some of the most common defenses to mitigate DC aggravated assault cases are self-defense and the inability of prosecutors to prove serious bodily injuries. The defense of self-defense is available in any assault case, from simple assault to aggravated assault while armed. A person does have the ability to defend themselves as long they are responding to a reasonable fear of an imminent harm and do so using proportionate force. That means that a person would not have the ability to be able to use deadly force in a situation where they are not in imminent fear that deadly force is about to be imparted on them.

Self-defense can also be considered a mitigating factor. It is referred to as an incomplete self-defense argument, which can be a situation in which a person may believe they are acting in self-defense, but would not be in reasonable fear of any imminent harm. This can mean that a person’s fear of imminent harm was not reasonable at the time, in which case they would not have been acting in self-defense, but subjective fear, meaning an honest fear that was in their mind could have been used to decrease their penalties even though it may not rise to the level of the actual defense.

Reasonable Fear of Harm

If a person is in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, then that person does have the ability to respond to defend themselves with a proportionate level of force. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, and that means that the prosecutors must prove that the defendant’s actions were not in self-defense. This is the burden of proving that defense actions are not in self-defense always lies with the government. A defendant who raises an issue of self-defense never requires proof at any level that their actions were self-defense. That obligation always rests on the prosecutors to prove the defendant did not act in self-defense.

Incomplete self-defense could also be used to decrease penalties of an aggravated assault case in DC if a person was in reasonable fear of imminent harm but responded with disproportionate force. As an example, a person attacked by unarmed stranger uses too much force in responding to that attack. That could be considered disproportionate force and therefore, would not be considered self-defense. But because the person was in reasonable imminent fear of harm that argument could be used to decrease the penalty the person may face.