Common DC Assault Charges 

There are many different types of assault charges in Washington, DC which an individual can be charged with based on the specific facts and circumstances of the allegations. Most commonly, prosecutors charge the misdemeanor of simple assault in situations where there are minimal injuries or potentially no injuries to either party in situations where no weapons are involved. To learn more about what type of assault you may be facing and the associated penalties, schedule a consultation with a DC assault lawyer today.

Difference Between Assault and Battery

Under DC law, the crime of assault does not require an actual battery. The term battery is used when there is actual physical contact between two people.

Under DC law, there is no crime called battery. One way that a person can be charged with an assault is through an attempted battery, meaning a person injured or attempted to injure another individual through the intentional application of force or violence. Even in a situation where that attempt does not successfully result in physical contact, the attempted physical contact is sufficient for prosecutors to prove an assault.

A battery can be one type of assault, but a battery is not necessary for prosecutors to prove an assault because the prosecutors could also prove an assault through the theory of an intent to frighten assault where there may not be any physical contact between the two people involved.

What are Battery Charges?

The first category of assault is an attempted battery assault. An attempted battery assault is where a person intentionally uses force or violence to injure another person and has the apparent ability to injure that person. Injury does not necessarily mean that the other person was harmed or shows a physical injury. Injury simply means that at a bare minimum, there was an attempt to commit an unwanted touching of another person. Even though attempted battery assault does not require an actual injury such as a broken bone or a bruise, attempted battery assault requires some intentional use of force or violence to attempt to commit an offensive touching.

What is Intent to Frighten?

The second category of assault under DC law is an intent to frighten assault. With an intent to frighten assault, the prosecutors must prove that the person committed a threatening act that would reasonably cause another person to fear immediate injury. The best example of an intent to frighten assault is when a person raises their fist in a sudden motion at an individual even though the person had no intent to actually hit the individual. If the government can prove that the person raised their fist with the intent to cause the individual to fear an immediate injury; that constitutes the second type of assault under DC law, which is an intent to frighten assault.

What is Nonviolent Sexual Touching?

The third category of assault under DC law is referred to as nonviolent sexual touching assault. In a nonviolent sexual touching assault, the prosecutors must prove that the person sexually touched another individual and the person did so on purpose as opposed to by mistake or by accident, and the individual did not consent to being touched in that manner. These three categories are the three types of conduct that constitute assault under DC law. They are the most common DC assault charges.

What is Simple Assault?

Simple assault charges are extremely common in Washington, DC even in situations where a person might not think that the police would make an arrest such as bar fights, minor scuffles between roommates, or minor family conflicts with no serious injuries. These can all be simple assaults and are still prosecuted by the DC United States Attorney’s Office.

Who Decides to Move on With Charges

The charging of simple assault cases is not dependent on one side or the other side pressing charges. People sometimes ask the question about whether the prosecutors still move forward in a simple assault case in a minor struggle or altercation between two people where a person declines to press charges.

The answer to that is no. When the police make an arrest because they believe there is probable cause that someone committed a crime, the prosecutors decide whether they want to move forward on criminal charges against the arrestee in that situation. At that point, the prosecutors need to be able to prove a case and may use the accuser as a potential witness. However, that accuser does not have the power to press charges or decline to press charges. This is why simple assault charges are so frequently filed in the District. Minor skirmishes and minor fights happen every day of the week and they frequently result in arrests and criminal charges.

What are Felony Level Charges?

Felony level assault charges can be prosecuted in the event that an assault results in hospitalization and serious injuries, broken bones, loss of consciousness, severe pain, or in situations where an assault occurs through the use of a dangerous weapon. Penalties can be much more severe if a person is convicted. The felony charges can result in higher fines and stricter conditions of release or potentially the loss of a person’s freedom while their case is pending.

These charges are pursued less frequently compared to simple assault charges. Assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with significant bodily injury, or aggravated assault still charges that the US Attorney’s Office files and pursues vigorously. For more on common assault charges in DC, contact a professional attorney.