Month: July 2017

For many unfamiliar with the Justice System, the various arrest procedures in the District of Columbia can be intimidating and confusing. Often times, police are not forthright with information and might provide inaccurate information to the arrestee. This only adds to the confusion and intimidation of this process. However, with the aid of top DC criminal lawyers, this process can be better understood and result in the favor of the arrestee.

Depending on the charge, there are two main procedures that DC police use to process an arrest. For most misdemeanors, there is an eligibility for release. This results in the arrestee being released from the station with a citation and a return date to appear before a judge in court. This includes DUI, DWI, simple assault, unlawful entry,and hit and run charges amongst others. This process only takes a few hours, in which an arrestee will be finger printed, processed and eventually released from the station.

However, there are a number of barriers that limit the eligibility for release. Certain misdemeanors, such as an unregistered firearm, are not eligible for release. Furthermore, felonies, a prior extensive criminal record, judiciary warrants, and domestic violence charges will also prohibit the arrestee from being eligible to be released from custody. If a judge issues a bench warrant for arrest, regardless of the charges, this person must be detained until they are brought before the judge. Even in cases of misdemeanors, if a judicial arrest warrant is issued they are not eligible for release. In domestic violence cases, regardless if the charges includesimple assault, unlawful entry or other misdemeanors, domestic violence negates the eligibility of immediate release. Lastly, if the arrestee is currently on probation or parole, this will also result in an arrestee not being released from police custody.

In the case in which one or more of the above criteria are met, there is a separate police procedure that is followed. During this procedure, the arrestee is first booked at the police station. The officer collects information of the arrestee. They are then transferred to the central cellblock, or the main jail in which arrestees not eligible for release are kept until after their bond hearing. They will wait in central cell block until their appearance before a judge. At central cellblock, family and friends are not allowed to see those held. This only adds to the confusion and fear that being arrested has on those arrested and those closest to them. While family and friends cannot meet with those held in central cellblock, the arrestee’s criminal defense lawyer can.

When it’s time to appear before the judge, the arrestee moved to lock up. Here, they will appear before the judge in courtroom C-10 typically who will make a release determination. The length of this process can vary depending on when they were arrested, however if the arrest took place during the work week it is normal to spend approximately one night in jail. If the arrest took place on the weekend on a Saturday, the arrestee will have to wait until the following Monday in order to appear before a judge resulting in approximately two nights in jail.

Arrest procedures are characterized by a lack of information, which leads to confusion and fear. With the aid of top DC criminal defense lawyers, the process become clearer and the path towards release becomes much easier to navigate.

Solicitation is the act of enticing, inviting, or persuading someone to agree to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money. In the District of Columbia, being charged with Solicitation of Prostitution can carry serious consequences. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department has wide ranging powers at their disposal to arrest people suspected of solicitation and prostitution. Among the most effective means the MPD uses are sting operations. The sting operations MPD uses are legal. Officers can legally ask someone to discuss or engage in illegal behavior as well. Because of this, many people believe entering into an entrapment defense would be the best defense available. However, the DC solicitation attorneys at Bruckheim& Patel know this could do more harm than good.

Solicitation carries stiff penalties if convicted. This is why it is important to use an experienced legal team to combat these charges. Each solicitation conviction carries with it bigger penalties. The first solicitation conviction has a penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. The second offense carries up to 135 days in jail and/or a $750 fine. A third or subsequent convictions have the potential to be very extreme with jail time of up to two years and/or a fine of $12,500. Furthermore, these punishments can be enhanced if the incident occurred with a person under the age of 18 or if they are in “prostitution free zones” which are located throughout the district.

Entrapment is the circumstance in which a law enforcement officer persuades or convinces a person to commit a criminal act that the person would not have otherwise committed. However, pursuant to the law, a police officer merely asking for or discussing illegal acts is not enough to prove entrapment. Instead, the defendant must prove, using evidence, that the law enforcement officer induced the behavior. Next, the government must show the defendant was willing to solicit. This can be done through prior conversations, exchanges of money, or going to a different location with a specific intent. By entering into an entrapment defense, it places the burden on the defendant to prove the law enforcement officers illegally induced them to engage in solicitation. Furthermore, while prior criminal history and character evidence is not normally admissible in trial, with an entrapment defense it is permitted to be admitted at trial against the defendant. This is another inherent hazard of this strategy as a person’s history can be used against them.

Due to these reasons, an entrapment defense might not be the best defense for you. Discussing your options with an experienced DC solicitation attorney is your best option to combat these charges and avoid stiff fines and jail times. Crafting the right defense, whether or not it’s an entrapment defense, is essential to the likelihood of a positive outcome at your trail. The legal team at Bruckheim& Patel has vast experience and an amazing record of success with this type of charge, and will work to get the best possible outcome for you. Call for a free confidential consultation at 202-930-3464.

No one can deny the courage of those who roam our streets sworn to protect us. Our men and women in blue put their lives on the line daily to protect our lives without a second thought of their own. However, like most institutions, the police foundation has a number of cracks in it. And none can be as volatile as this stark reality: it seems almost as easy for an officer to kill somebody, as it is for somebody to be charged with assaulting an officer. How can the police exert such force and seemingly get away with killing an innocent person while at the same time being so fragile that even the smallest of actions could lead to a charge as serious as assault of an officer? The simple answer is that it’s as complex as it is convoluted- and reality isn’t far from that.

In Washington D.C, the aspects of Assault on a Member of the Police Force is an extremely easy charge to prove for the government. Enshrined in the Code of the District of Columbia, Assault of an Officer can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The deciding factor to determine the severity of the charge is the amount of force used or the gravity of the risk of injury to the officer in the incident. In both cases, the punishment for assaulting an officer carries heavier punishment as compared to other assault charges.

The criminal code defines Misdemeanor Assault of a Member of the Police Force as, “without justifiable and excusable cause assaults a law enforcement officer on account of, or while that law enforcement officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties.” The maximum sentence in the District is six months in jail, or a fine of $1,000, or both.

Felony Assault of a Member of the Police Force adds the addition of significant bodily injury to the officer, or an act that would “create a grave risk” of significant bodily injury. Even creating a situation in which an officer has the potential to be hurt can constitute a felony charge of assault on an officer. The maximum sentence for the felony charge is ten years in prison, a $25,000 fine, or both.

However, the penal code adds a caveat to what defines a just and excusable cause that would legitimize the use of force against an officer. The code states, “it is neither justifiable nor excusable cause for a person to use force to resist an arrest when such an arrest is made by an individual he or she believes to be a law enforcement officer, whether or not such an arrest is lawful.” Meaning, you have no right to use force against an officer to avoid being unlawfully detained regardless of the situation or the legality of the arrest. It is this section of the law that allows the government, regardless of the situation, to justify charging anyone for assault of an officer. The law creates an environment in which any situation, regardless of the circumstances, to constitute almost any action against police officers as an assault.

During the Presidential Inauguration this past January, police arrested over 200 protestors for unlawful activity. During the protests, six officers sustained minor injuries. Of the 217 arrested, one hundred protestors were charged with misdemeanor assault of an officer. One protestor, Dane Powell, was charged with felony assault of an officer for throwing stones in the direction of officers but not actually hitting any. Police responded to protestors with force including the use of pepper spray, smoke grenades, and flash bang. Ironically, the law allows the police to use as much force as they deem necessary to fulfill their duties. So while one man is facing years in prison for throwing stones in the direction of police, officers are empowered to use whatever force they need and arrest as many as they can. However, this irony runs even deeper.

While the risk of injury can be easily prosecuted and lead to extensive jail time for civilians, officers rarely face any repercussions for any instance of extensive force they use on civilians. If you’ve watched TV in the last six years, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In 2011, Kelly Thomas, a mentally handicapped homeless man, was beaten by police officers for acting suspiciously. He died in the hospital five days after the incident. A jury acquitted two of the officers involved, and the government dropped the charges against another.

In 2014, Eric Garner was taken to the ground by police using a choke hold, a maneuver that is banned by the New York Police Department. Mr. Garner, who had asthma, plead with officers as they held him down that he couldn’t breath, and eventually died of suffocation. A grand jury didn’t indict any officers involved.

Also in 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by an officer. Police documents claim the police officer fired his weapon 12 times. A grand jury refused to indict.

In 2015, Walter Scott was pulled over for a traffic violation. An incident ensued, and the officer shot Mr. Scott, claiming Scott reached for his taser and the officer feared for his life. Cell phone footage was later released showing Mr. Scott running away from the officer, who shot him in the back. The officer later admitted to lying, and accepted a plea bargain in which he plead guilty to excessive force in exchange for the government dropping their murder charges.

In 2016, in a shocking incident, a police officer shot and killed Philando Castile after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend live steamed the incident on Facebook. The officer who killed Mr. Castile was found not guilty of second degree manslaughter.

Also in 2016, Officer Betty Jo Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher. Mr. Crutcher was unarmed. She claimed she feared for her life and stated, “I saw a threat and I used the force I felt necessary to stop a threat.”In early 2017, she was acquitted for felony manslaughter.

In all of the above instances it appears police used unnecessary and excessive force in situations in which it was not necessary. In all cases but one, the officers received no punishment for their use of excessive force and the killing innocent people. It’s chilling to realize that the intent to hurt an officer is almost guaranteed to result in an extensive jail sentence, but when an officer kills somebody they almost never suffer the consequences. Maybe it’s an issue with the law, maybe it’s an issue with police training, and maybe it’s an issue with race. It’s probably a combination of the three, plus countless others, compiled to create a situation in which the law does not apply equally to all.

Call Now Button