No papered: A Washington DC DUI Blog

What is Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse in the District of Columbia?

In the District of Columbia, a common albeit less serious sexual offense is a crime called Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse (or “MSA”).  Like most misdemeanors in the District, the charge is not jury demandable.  That means a judge, not a jury, will decide guilt or innocence if an individual is charged with MSA.  These cases can be difficult for all parties involved because they typically involve serious allegations, are sexual in nature, and have the potential to cause a great deal of trauma for an individual victim of the abuse and for any individual falsely accused.   What are the Elements of Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse?   The D.C. Code defines Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse as engaging in a sexual act or sexual contact with another individual.  The law requires that the defendant should have knowledge or reason to know that it was done without the other person’s permission.  The maximum penalty for the offense is 180 days and/or a $1,000.00 fine.  Accordingly, like most misdemeanors in...

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A Surprising Take on the Supreme Court’s Bruen Decision

On June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court held 6-3 in NY Pistol & Rifle Association v. Bruen that New York’s proper cause requirement for obtaining a concealed carry license was unconstitutional. The case brought together some unlikely allies in challenging New York’s law.  For example, several progressive public defender organizations like the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, the Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn Defender Services filed an amicus brief in support of the NRA’s brief. In this blog, I will explain why public defender organizations filed briefs supporting the NRA’s position, explain the Supreme Court’s ruling, and discuss how it may affect gun laws in the District of Columbia and Maryland. In Bruen, the Supreme Court held that New York’s proper-cause requirement violated the constitution because it prevented law-abiding citizens with normal self defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment rights, which the Court found included carrying in public for self defense...

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The Right to Speedy Trial in Maryland

Maryland has favorable speedy trial laws that could benefit your case. You are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 21 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. In addition, Maryland Rule 4-271 requires that a trial date in the Circuit Court be set within 30 days of the entry of an attorney's appearance or the initial appearance of the defendant, whichever happens first. Trial must occur within 180 days of the earlier of counsel's appearance or the defendant's initial appearance in the Circuit Court.  This is known as the Hicks date.  While the Hicks rule is clear on its face, the rule may be waived upon a showing of good cause to continue a trial date beyond 180 days.  This could apply to the defense or the prosecution.  For example, a witness for the prosecution may be on active military duty and will not return until after the Hicks date.  In that case, a judge would likely find good cause to continue the trial beyond 180...

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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

What Is an Act of Vandalism? The word “vandalism” is often used to describe any act of property damage, but it actually has a specific legal definition. Under D.C. law, vandalism is the willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of any public or private property, whether real or personal property, without the consent of the owner. Vandalism can take many different forms, including but not limited to: Graffiti Breaking windows Damaging vehicles Defacing property with paint or other substances Damaging another person's property is a serious offense that can result in significant penalties, including jail time. If the property damaged is owned by the federal government, the penalties can be even more severe. What Is Considered Destruction of Government Property? 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 national protests and debates over the past month. Unsurprisingly,...

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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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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…

Martindale Hubbell Joseph Scrofano 2018