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Assault Laws in Washington DC

Subtitle 1, Chapter 4 under Title 22 of the Washington DC Criminal code deals with all crimes labeled assault, mayhem, or threats, as well as assaults with the intent to kill, rob, poison, commit first degree sexual abuse, second degree sexual abuse, or child sexual abuse. Under DC § 22-401, for example, assault with the intent to kill or commit sexual abuse is subject to a potential two- to fifteen-year imprisonment. This is one of the many examples of local law that makes it important for a good Washington DC assault lawyer to understand the different penalties possible based on the nature and intent of an alleged assault.


While § 22-404 previously contained four subsections dealing specifically with stalking, all four were repealed by the Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009, leaving the section only containing information on assaults deemed “menacing.” Two different types of these assaults exist in Washington DC:

  • Unlawful assault or menacing threats: fine not to exceed $1,000, imprisonment no more than 180 days.
  • Reckless, knowing, or intentional significant bodily harm: fine not to exceed $12,500, imprisonment no more than three years.

Washington DC assault lawyers can help you determine whether your alleged assault caused significant bodily harm, which the district defines as an injury that requires emergency medical attention or hospitalization. It is also possible to plea down from significant bodily harm-related charges in order to avoid lengthy prison sentences.

Intent and Washington DC Assault Laws

Three Washington DC criminal codes deal with assault and its relation to intent in the area. These laws are as follows:

  • § 22-401: Assault (intent to poison, rob, kill; sexual abuse, child sexual abuse) – sentence no less than two-year imprisonment and not more than 15 years.
  • § 22-402: Assault (intent to commit mayhem; with dangerous weapon) – sentence can include up to 10-year imprisonment.
  • § 22-403: Assault (intent to commit another offense) – possible imprisonment no more than five years.

Mayhem and assault in the form of malicious disfigurement is also covered under Washington DC Criminal Code, but is less common in Washington DC assault cases. Those convicted of mayhem or malicious disfigurement may face imprisonment for no more than ten years.

Assault on a Police Officer

Under § 22-405, it is illegal to assault a law enforcement officer, which the District of Columbia defines as follows:

Washington DC also enforces this law against assaults (including resisting arrest) that occur against a law enforcement officer when the accused believes that the arrest is unlawful, provided that the accused believes that the arresting officer is indeed a law enforcement agent. Those convicted of assault, resisting arrest, or intimidation against a law enforcement officer may face a fine not to exceed $1,000, and up to 180 days imprisonment. Should the assault cause significant bodily harm, the sentence can be increased to up to a ten-year imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is the most serious assault charge possible in Washington DC, with hefty potential penalties depending on the crime. Attempted aggravated assault carries a possible $12,500 fine and five-year prison sentence. Successful aggravated assault doubles the penalty to a potential $25,000 fine and ten-year imprisonment. Washington DC assault lawyers generally understand aggravated assault to be knowing or purposeful bodily injury to another person. Aggravated assault can also be defined as engaging in conduct that creates a risk for such injury, and indeed causes a serious injury. This sentences are included in Washington DC Criminal Code § 22-404.01.

Threats to Do Bodily Harm

Threatening another person with bodily harm in Washington DC is a crime under § 22-407. Those convicted of threatening assault in the District of Columbia can face up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Once convicted, you can also be required to pay a bond for up to one year. Your Washington DC assault attorney can help you fight misdemeanor charges like threats to do bodily harm.

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