No papered: A Washington DC DUI Blog

Recent Changes to DC CPO and Stalking Laws

A “CPO,” or Civil Protection Order in the District of Columbia, is an order from the court for the petitioner, one individual, to stay away from another individual, the respondent, that remains in effect for one year. This is similar to what many would call a “restraining order.” Although CPO cases are considered civil, they do contain criminal aspects, involving the criminal legal system. For example, CPOs are handled in domestic violence courts. CPOs are filed with a petition as a written request to the courts for either a CPO or a TPO, a temporary protection order, or both. This request has to demonstrate imminent danger requiring court action. Upon the initial CPO hearing, a judge decides whether or not to issue the protection order based on the candor and validity of the allegations. TPOs remain in effect until the next court hearing, where it is then decided whether to continue onto a trial where a formal and full CPO may be granted and issued. When granted, a CPO remains in...

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The DC Safe Surrender 2021 Virtual Event

The District of Columbia Superior Court is hosting a virtual event this summer called the Virtual DC Safe Surrender 2021. Safe Surrender allows individuals with misdemeanor bench warrants in the District of Columbia to surrender themselves without having to physically appear in court. This is a very unique opportunity to take control and clear a bench warrant that makes you live in fear of getting arrested at any given time.   What is the Virtual DC Safe Surrender 2021 Event? If you have an active bench warrant, there is the possibility that a routine traffic stop can lead to an arrest because an active bench warrant will show up in the law enforcement database. Law enforcement, including the United States Marshal Service, also has the power to execute active bench warrants and arrest you for not surrendering voluntarily. It is imperative to get your name cleared of a bench warrant, and you have the power to do so through the Virtual DC Safe Surrender 2021 event. For the first...

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The First Step Act and Compassionate Release During COVID-19

Enacted in December 2018, Congress created the First Step Act (the “Act”) to improve criminal justice outcomes. The Act, among other things, intends to reduce recidivism, implement sentencing and correctional reform, and incentivize good behavior by increasing the number of credits prisoners can earn towards pre-release custody. Overall, the Act reforms conditions for many types of offenders from their sentencing, to their treatment in prison, and their reentry into society after prison.   Who is supposed to benefit from the First Step Act? The first class of prisoners who are supposed to benefit from the Act are felony drug offenders serving lengthy mandatory sentences. The Act reduces mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses, which means that repeat felony drug offenders who were previously sentenced to mandatory life in prison now face reduced mandatory sentences of twenty-five years in prison. This way, prosecutors and judges are allowed to give lower sentences to...

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Leaving After Colliding

In the District of Columbia, there are two crimes for leaving the scene of an accident. The first is DC hit and run or leaving after colliding (“LAC”), property damage, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $500.00 fine. The second is leaving after colliding, personal injury, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days and/or a $1000.00 fine. In August of 2012, the City Council amended the city’s drunk driving laws. In doing so, they also toughened the laws for LAC. It is now legally required, under criminal law, for a person involved in an accident to not only wait and call the police but also wait for the police to arrive. The Office of the Attorney General’s Office will prosecute cases where the person leaves their contact information and fully cooperates with the police. The days where you can leave a note on the car if you accidentally tap another vehicle while parking are gone. If the police suspect you are involved in an accident where you left the scene,...

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What to Do if Arrested for Damaging Federal Property in DC

On June 26, 2020, President Trump took time out of his busy golf schedule to address a rampant problem that has been at the center of protests and debates across the nation over the past month. Unsurprisingly, the pervasive problem the Commander in Chief has chosen to tackle is not abhorrent abuse of citizens at the hands of law enforcement, but rather the tearing down of statues. President Trump signed an executive order calling for the arrest and rigorous prosecution of those caught breaking federal laws after a rash of statue destruction as part of the ongoing protests. The beginning of President Trump’s Executive Order, titled “Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence,” reads like a propaganda letter to the American people. The White House hits as many buzzwords as it can, calling the protesters everything from rioters to left-wing extremists to Marxists bent on destroying the United States Government. The...

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First Step: DC City Council Passes Police Reform

As the Black Lives Matter and Police Reform protests across the nation continue into their third week, the DC City Council has taken the first step towards actual police reform in our city. While the City Council is not really able to address the serious abuses of power used by federal law enforcement against protesters in our city, the City Council is able to address these prevalent problems in the DC Metropolitan Police Department. These problems have long existed in our local police department and were forced into the national spotlight last week as thousands and thousands of citizens descended on the White House in an inspiring show of solidarity, patriotism, and use of our First Amendment right to freedom of assembly.

While the DC City Council will continue to draft and debate further legislative changes in the coming weeks, the City Council approved an emergency amendment bill on the night of June 8. Named the “Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Temporary Amendment Act of 2020,” the bill introduces a number of reforms to how the police will be allowed to behave; as well as modifying and created boards of police oversight. As it is emergency legislation, the bill would remain in effect for 90 days. If no further changes are made in those 90 days, the bill will become permanent law.

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What’s the Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor Assault in DC?

In the District of Columbia, there are multiple assault offenses that you can be charged with. Two of the most common are misdemeanor simple assault and felony assault with significant bodily injury. There are many differences between the two crimes including the added element of significant bodily injury to felony assault. The maximum penalties are also different and whether the defendant is entitled to a jury trial is different. However, some similarities exist. For example, the United States Attorney’s Office prosecutes both offenses and the same defenses are available to each offense.

What are the Maximum Penalties for Felony and Misdemeanor Assault?

The main difference between the two are the potential maximum penalties and the requirement for felony assault to cause a “significant bodily injury.” Simple assault is a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Assault with significant bodily injury carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison and a maximum $3,000.00 fine.

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What to do when subpoenaed to a DC grand jury?

In the District of Columbia, prosecutors must secure an indictment to charge someone with a felony. To secure an indictment, prosecutors must convene a grand jury and present evidence to the grand jury. A grand jury is made up of members of the community just a like a regular jury in court. However, grand jury proceedings are secret, and the defendant or “target” of the investigation has no right to put on a defense.

The decision to indict is up to the grand jury if they determine that “probable cause” exists to believe that the target committed the alleged offense. Evidence the grand jury may consider typically involves witness testimony. To get witnesses before the grand jury, prosecutors will normally subpoena the witness. This article will go over what your legal rights are if you receive a grand jury subpoena and outlines what legal obligations you have. First, its important to note that a grand jury witness has several important legal rights. First, you have the right to an attorney. Anyone subpoenaed to the grand jury has a right to a lawyer and in DC if you cannot afford a lawyer the Court will appoint one for you. Second, you have a right to know what the grand jury is investigating. Finally, you have a right against self-incrimination, which means you do not have to answer questions that may incriminate you.

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What is the Punishment for DUI Marijuana in DC?

Driving under the influence for marijuana is the same offense for driving under the influence of alcohol in DC. Its a serious crime in the District of Columbia. For first offenders, DUI charges carry a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and or a $1,000.00 fine. Having said that, there is no felony DUI charge in DC. That means the offense is a misdemeanor no matter how many times someone gets arrested for it. However, DUI and DWI cases in DC are the only misdemeanors in the entire D.C. Criminal Code that carry mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain aggravating factors.

Mandatory minimum jail sentences require a judge, under the law, to impose jail under certain circumstances. That means the judge could honestly believe the defendant is a saint but, if convicted, under certain circumstances, would have to impose jail. The fact that DUI cases carry potential mandatory minimum sentences, unlike any other misdemeanors in DC, shows how serious the criminal justice system takes DUI charges in DC.

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Drug Testing in DC Criminal Cases After Marijuana Legalization

Unlike most jurisdictions, the District of Columbia Superior Court does not operate on a cash bail system. That means there are no bail bondsman in the District of Columbia. In addition, how much an arrested person can pay has no bearing on whether the person actually gets released. Instead, the D.C. code has something called the Bail Reform Act, which creates a condition-based system for pretrial release.

There are certainly benefits to the approach but also some problems. Unlike many states, no person arrested will languish in jail because they cannot afford to pay a bondsman. However, the condition-based system actually has a practical effect of essentially putting the defendant on probation before even getting convicted. For most misdemeanor offenses, like DUI and simple assault, the judge will release the individual on personal recognizance. Personal recognizance is just on the person’s promise to return to court.

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At Scrofano Law PC, we believe in three simple principles. Honesty. We are always honest to our clients. We will never force or manipulate you to plead guilty or try to convince you to do something…

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