A lot of people get confused about evidence. Many think that if the evidence provided is just a person’s word and no physical proof such as photos, the case would be dropped. I have to explain that although it is very good that there is no extra evidence like photos, hospital records, or other witnesses, technically it would still be quite possible that just that one complainant or victim’s statement alone would be enough proof if the judge believed it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Usually a case that is just somebody’s word over another person’s word will not reach the highest standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in the legal system. There often needs to be additional evidence like photos of injures, other witnesses, hospital records, and of course statements. In a lot of cases, the biggest evidence against the client would be his own statements, so I try to tell people early to please not talk to the police.
I have handled a lot of cases where some sort of incident occurred, and maybe a few days or weeks passed before the person, usually the one who lost the fight, contacts the police. The police would not arrest the accused right then, but would show up at their house or give that person a call and ask if they would mind coming in and voluntarily have a conversation with the police officers. They would say the person was not under arrest and they just want to know what happened to know their side of the story.
The person would get scared and hopefully contact their attorney before actually talking to the police. I always tell clients not to say a word to the police, because the only thing they would do with those words would be to use them against the person. They could charge the person with assault or any other crime if they wanted to and the person speaking to them would only help them do that.
If the person got charged and did not make any statements, then there would be one less thing that the police and the prosecutors could use against them.
What sort of injury constitutes assault?
It would count as assault if someone slapped someone on the back of their head. One form of assault is battery. The simple definition of battery is basically offensive touching that was not consented to, so things like slapping or throwing water at someone could be considered assault.
The less common type of assault is the “intent to frighten.” This is when someone does a threatening act which puts another person in reasonable fear of immediate injury, so it would actually be an assault if someone took a big fake swing at the person in front of them and made them think they were going to hit them in the face.
Another version of assault in DC is called a, “non-violent sexual touching assault,” which basically means touching the intimate parts of another person’s body without their consent, so a man grabbing a woman’s butt on the street might be charged with just assault in that form, as opposed to a sexual abuse charge. By definition, the judge would have to find that touching that part of another person’s body would cause fear, shame, humiliation, or mental anguish in a person of reasonable sensibility.
Penalty-Wise, What Can Up The Ante For An Assault?
In DC, simple assault is a 180-day offense and/or $1,000 fine, whereas other forms of assault are based upon on whether or not there was serious bodily injury. Aggravated assault is a ten-year offense and felony assault is a three-year offense, and these are based on how serious the injuries were.
A person would not be charged with just simple assault if they knocked someone out cold, because the person would probably end up being taken to the hospital and getting treated; such a case would probably be charged as a felony assault. It would be up to the discretion of the prosecutor to choose which charge they would want to place.
The offense would be worse and can turn into a felony case if someone sustained a large injury, enough that they would have to go to the hospital. It would be the same even if the person did not intend to harm the other person, because unintended consequences happen all the time.
Is Trespass A Factor That Could Contribute To Assault Cases?
Most assault fight cases do not come with trespassing charges as well. There are a lot of cases of assault on police officers which usually come with more charges because the police are also probably claiming resisting arrest, failure to obey a lawful order and things like that which can usually get tagged on top of the assault charge.
Would The Idea Of Self-Defense Be Difficult To Prove In Court?
Self-defense is one of the fundamental legal defenses in our system, and it is an argument that is raised often. I have won a lot of cases where my client has testified that he acted in self-defense. It is almost impossible to win a case as a defendant without testifying if the person is claiming self-defense. They would not have to convince the judge, but would have to present evidence that creates reasonable doubt for the judge to believe that evidence that was presented that shows that if the defendant did commit an assault; it was legally justified because he had a reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily harm.
If Someone Had Special Martial Arts Training Would Their Fists Or Feet Be Considered Weapons?
I have heard that before. I had a client who was a boxer, and he was a member of the professional boxing association where he was told there were actually charges that he could get charged with if he punched somebody because his hands were actually registered in the database as weapons. I have never had actually a case where the prosecutors charged a client with this specifically and I do not even know if such a statute exists.
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