Category: Sex Abuse

Washington, D.C. sexual abuse crimes are divided into five different categories (first-degree through fourth degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor sexual abuse) depending on the severity of the offense.

First Degree Sexual Abuse

First-degree sexual abuse, the most serious category, is defined as when a person engages in or causes another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act:

  1. By using force against that other person;
  2. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping;
  3. After rendering that other person unconscious; or
  4. After administering to that other person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that other person, a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control his or her conduct.

This crime is a felony which may carry a life-sentence and a fine of up to $125,000.

Second Degree Sexual Abuse

Second-degree sexual abuse differs in that it is defined as when a person engages in or causes another person to engage in or submit to a sexual act:

  1. By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear that any person will be subjected to death, bodily injury, or kidnapping); or
  2. Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is:
    (A) Incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct;
    (B) Incapable of declining participation in that sexual act; or
    (C) Incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual act.

This crime if a felony which may carry up to a $50,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

Difference Between “Sexual Act” And “Sexual Contact”

Third and fourth degree sexual abuse are the same as their more severe counterparts (1st and 2nd degree, respectively) but differ in that they are defined as when a person engages in or causes “sexual contact” with or by another person, rather than a “sexual act.”

“Sexual contact” means “the touching with any clothed or unclothed body part or any object, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” “Sexual act,” which is more severe, means:

  • The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva of another by a penis;
  • Contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus; or
  • The penetration, however slight, of the anus or vulva by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Other Sex Crimes and the Importance of Criminal Defense

It is important to note that sex abuse crimes may be subject to enhanced penalties due to aggravating circumstances. These circumstances include if the victim is less than twelve years old, if the victim is less than eighteen years old but bears a significant relationship with the offender, if the victim sustained bodily injury, if the offender had accomplices, or if the offender was armed with a weapon. Under such circumstances, the offender can be sentenced to up to 1 and 1/2 times the maximum penalty prescribed for the particular offense.

D.C. Code also lays out other sex abuse crimes involving someone in a position of power (i.e. staff members of hospitals/prisons, or teachers) committing sexual abuse against those under the staff member’s control. Similarly, the Code includes crimes involving someone in a position of trust (i.e. a professional) committing sexual abuse against his or her client or patient.

It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are accused of any sexual abuse crimes. Not only do these crimes carry serious penalties, but those convicted of sexual abuse often must register as sex offenders for life. This can result in other consequences, such as difficulty obtaining employment. An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue the specific defenses necessary to dispose of your charges, or even negotiate a reasonable plea agreement that may result in a lighter sentence.

If you are facing sexual abuse charges, contact the experienced attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel to help you handle your case.

On May 15th of this year, a DC dentist plead guilty to eight counts of sexual assault on five of his patients and two employees. The Georgetown dentist plead guilty to assaulting the five male patients while they were under anesthesia.

Bilal Ahmed was the owner of the dentist practice, Universal Smiles, on M Street in Georgetown. In 2014, a patient contacted authorities and accused Ahmed of sexually assaulting him while under the anesthesia nitrous oxide. This prompted other to step forward with similar accusations. While this first incident occurred in May of 2014, similar occurrences happened as early as 2010. Ahmed was arrested at John F. Kennedy airport in New York in 2016 after a Superior Court indictment of 21 charges, which included 14 felony counts of sexual abuse, four misdemeanor counts of sexual assault, and three counts of misdemeanor assault. Ahmed had originally plead not guilty to the charges in early 2016.

The defendant, represented by his D.C. assault attorney, and prosecutors reached a plea deal in early 2017. The 13-page deal included charges of first and second degree sexual assault, and one count of simple assault. The sexual assault charges were levied for actions Ahmed conducted against five patients and one of his employees. The simple assault charge was the result of inappropriate touching by Ahmed on another former employee. The plea deal included eight charges for which Ahmed would have to plead guilty. In exchange for accepting the plea deal and agreeing to plead guilty to all eight counts, prosecutors dropped the remaining fifteen charges handed down by the indictment of the DC Superior Court. Under the terms of the agreement, Ahmed is confined to home detention, GPS tracking, and intensive supervision. His dental license was suspended in 2014, and his practice has since shut down.

He is scheduled to appear before Superior Court Judge Zoe Bush on August 10th for a sentencing hearing. He faces a maximum 15 years for the first-degree sexual assault charge. However, he is eligible for additional time for the remaining charges. He is facing decades in prison in total for all of his charges.Ahmed has also faced numerous malpractice and civil cases relating to these events. Furthermore,Ahmed’s former office manager of his former Georgetown office, Mahsa Azimiriad, was also indicted for perjury and is accused of lying to a grand jury during the investigation of Ahmed.

The extensiveness of the charges and potential sentences that face Ahmed illustrates the complexities of criminal charges, specifically assault charges, in Washington D.C. The use of D.C. assault attorneys by Ahmed shows the importance of having a skilled lawyer to help navigate these kinds of charges. His assault attorneys played a key part in securing his plea deal; had this case gone to trail he could’ve faced much harsher charges and possibly a much harder sentence. In the District of Columbia, being found guilty of sexual assault can result in sentences lasting decades- having skilled sexual assault attorneys that can advocate for their clients is essential for reaching a fair deal or preparing to fight the charges.

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Most of us have heard the warning “don’t get into cars with strangers!” from the time we were very young. We were taught to scream “Stranger Danger!” if we were ever approached maliciously by an adult. The common picture of a white van with the word CANDY scrawled in marker is well-known in our society. These teachings are for a very simple reason: strangers can be dangerous.

And yet, as adults, many of us now spend a significant amount of time getting into cars with strangers when using popular applications (“apps”) like Uber and Lyft. Requesting a driver on these apps is obnoxiously simple. All you have to do is open the app, drop a pin at your current location, and push “request.” The closest driver is summoned to you and you get to watch the little car drive down the digital street to your location. You enter the non-descript cars owned by the driver, which are usually only identified as app drivers by a small sticker in the window. All you know about the driver is their first name and their driver rating. And then, you trust them with your life.

Then vs Now

A child being picked up and taken into a car by a stranger is rightly one of the biggest fears that a parent can have. The reason for this fear is simple: when you are a passenger in a car, you are completely at the driver’s mercy. Unless the passenger is willing and able to tuck-and-roll out of a moving vehicle, the passenger is not free to leave. A driver has full control over the vehicle, which means they have almost cart blanche authority to do whatever they want to you and take you wherever they wish to take you. Add this absolute power to inevitable bouts of road-rage after driving for hours on busy city streets, and the potential danger becomes very apparent.

And yet, we do not flinch at giving an absolute stranger that complete control over us. But, maybe we should.

There have been many reports of simple assaults and other crimes by Uber and Lyft drivers around the world. For example, on November 30, 2015, an Uber driver assaulted a female passenger in London when he punched her in the face because her friend had told the driver that he had made a wrong turn. Only ten days earlier, another Uber driver in Indiana punched a female passenger because he was upset that she and her friends had been late getting into the car and had changed the drop-off location after beginning the ride. In our very own Washington, D.C., a passenger was assaulted by being spat on and slapped by a driver because the passenger burped in the vehicle. Seriously.

Assault Cases Across the USA

Similar stories occur everywhere: from a passenger being assaulted with a hammer by a driver in San Francisco over a dispute regarding the route, to sexual assaults by a driver in Boston, to kidnappings being reported in Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles.

Further, it is not only the actual drivers that have caused problems, but the idea of the apps themselves. We are no longer looking for bright yellow cars with the giant letters T-A-X-I painted on it. People are now used to getting into regular Hondas, Fords, and Toyotas without much thought. Not surprisingly, this has led people – likely in particularly inebriated states – to accidentally get into cars that are not associated with the app. On October 11, 2015 in Washington, DC, a woman forgot to look for the tiny square “Uber” sticker on the window, and got into a random car believing it to be an Uber driver. The woman ended up being assaulted at knife-point – simply because she was so used to getting into strangers’ cars that she didn’t think twice about getting into another one.

Technology Not Always Making the World Safer

We are in a very different world than existed in past generations. The last few decades have been defined by technological advancements that have succeeded in bringing strangers closer together. Social media, online dating apps, and the ever-pervasive websites and blogs bring together strangers who would otherwise have absolutely no affiliation with each other. We allow technology to provide us with a more efficient and diverse lifestyle and have learned to trust strangers in their opinions, their friendship, and their knowledge.

However, perhaps it would do well for us to keep in mind the mantras of our youth. That is not to say that we should not use the ride-sharing apps – as a DUI is certainly not advisable – but we should not become so reliant on technology that we completely forget our childhood lessons. The harsh truth of the matter is that sometimes it can be dangerous to get into cars with strangers.

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