• Jay P. Mykytiuk
    Jay P. Mykytiuk Criminal Defense Attorney
    Washington, DC & Northern VA
    Call Today (202) 630-1522

DC’s New APO Law Gives Defendants A Fighting Chance

Until recently, the District of Columbia’s Assault on a Police Officer (APO) statute was broadly applied to include, not only physical assault, but also resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with a police officer.  Raising your voice to an officer, wiggling while being handcuffed, or refusing to move because you believe the police stopped you unlawfully—these have all been reason enough to land you in legal trouble.  Essentially, any behavior other than complete submission and silence could lead to an APO arrest.

An investigation conducted by WAMU 88.5 and the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University revealed that from 2012 to 2014 the District charged APO nearly three times as much as other cities with the same size population.  It also revealed that approximately two-thirds of the people arrested for APO were not charged with another crime.

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Oops: The Defense of Accident or Mistake in D.C. Assault Cases

In the District of Columbia, if you are arrested for any type of assault crime, the government must prove that you acted intentionally.  While the government does not have to prove that you intended to injure the alleged victim, it does have to prove that you intended to commit the threatening act. Fortunately, the law recognizes that sometimes accidents happen.

Under the law in the District of Columbia, one of the defenses available to a client facing assault charges is accident or mistake.  By asserting either of the defenses of accident or mistake, you are admitting that you struck the complaining witness, but that the contact was accidental.

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