D.C. Assault Law

< D.C. Criminal Law

D.C. Assault Attorneys

assault charges in the region. While Washington DC is geographically close to neighboring states such as Virginia and Maryland, there are disparities in the penalties for assault offenses between DC and these other states. For instance, Washington DC’s Criminal Code, specifically DC § 22-407, incorporates threats to cause bodily harm within the ambit of assault charges in the district. Individuals found guilty of this offense may be subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 and a prison term of six months. On the other end of the spectrum lies aggravated assault, which is considered the most severe assault charge in Washington DC. If convicted of aggravated assault, the potential consequences include a prison sentence of up to ten years and a fine of $25,000.

When facing assault charges in Washington DC, the majority of adults will have their court proceedings take place in either the U.S. District Court for federal crimes or the Superior Court for district crimes. Depending on whether you are arrested by a federal agent or the Metropolitan Police Department, it can influence the course of your upcoming case. On the other hand, juveniles typically undergo trial in Family Court. An experienced assault attorney in Washington DC will assist you in comprehending the nature of your charge, as both the intent behind the alleged assault and its actual execution can significantly impact your sentencing.

DC Assault Laws

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 an experienced and responsive attorney nearby to understand the different penalties possible based on the nature and intent of an alleged assault.

Aggravated Assault in DC

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. Attorneys in the area 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. These sentences are included in Washington DC Criminal Code § 22-404.01.

Assault on a Police Officer

According to § 22-405, it is against the law to engage in assault against a law enforcement officer, as defined by the District of Columbia. The definition includes various individuals such as:

  • Members of any police force operating in Washington DC.
  • Designated civilian employees of the Metropolitan Police Department.
  • Members of the fire department.
  • Licensed special police officers.
  • Penal or correctional officers.
  • District of Columbia code inspectors and investigators.

Furthermore, Washington DC also applies this law to cases involving assault (including resisting arrest) against a law enforcement officer if the accused believes that the arrest is unlawful, provided that the accused believes the arresting officer to be a law enforcement agent. Individuals convicted of assault, resisting arrest, or intimidation against a law enforcement officer may be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum imprisonment of 180 days. In cases where the assault results in significant bodily harm, the sentence can be increased to a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of $25,000.


In Washington DC, assault and its relationship to intent are governed by three specific criminal codes. These laws are outlined below:

  • § 22-401: Assault (intent to poison, rob, kill; sexual abuse, child sexual abuse) – Conviction under this section may result in a minimum prison sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of 15 years.
  • § 22-402: Assault (intent to commit mayhem; with dangerous weapon) – Offenders found guilty under this provision could face a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. 
  • § 22-403: Assault (intent to commit another offense) – This statute stipulates a potential imprisonment term of no more than five years for individuals convicted of assault with the intent to commit another offense.

Additionally, Washington DC Criminal Code covers mayhem and assault in the form of malicious disfigurement, although these types of cases are less common in relation to assault in Washington DC. Convictions for mayhem or malicious disfigurement may lead to imprisonment for a maximum of ten years.


The Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009 resulted in the repeal of all four subsections within § 22-404 that specifically addressed stalking in Washington DC. As a result, the section now focuses solely on assaults categorized as “menacing.” There are two distinct types of these assaults in the District:

  1. Unlawful assault or menacing threats: Individuals found guilty may face a fine not exceeding $1,000 and a maximum imprisonment of 180 days.
  1. Reckless, knowing, or intentional infliction of significant bodily harm: Those convicted may be subject to a fine not exceeding $12,500 and a maximum imprisonment of three years.

A skilled attorney in Washington DC can assist in determining whether your alleged assault caused significant bodily harm, which the district defines as an injury requiring emergency medical attention or hospitalization. It is also possible to negotiate lesser charges related to significant bodily harm in order to avoid lengthy prison sentences.

Threats to Do Bodily Harm

Committing the act of threatening bodily harm to another individual in Washington DC constitutes a criminal offense according to § 22-407. Individuals found guilty of making assault threats in the District of Columbia may be subject to a maximum prison sentence of six months and a fine of $1,000. Additionally, upon conviction, it is possible to be obligated to pay a bond for up to one year. In the event of misdemeanor charges such as threats to do bodily harm, a skilled assault attorney in Washington DC can provide legal assistance to contest the charges and protect your rights.

How We Can Help

If you are facing accusations of assault, it is crucial to avoid attempting to handle these allegations on your own. Seeking the assistance of a qualified assault lawyer in Washington DC ensures that you will have the support of a knowledgeable legal expert throughout the entire legal proceedings. For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.