July 2011 Archives

July 27, 2011

Five Women Have Been Slashed with a Box Cutter in the Buttocks at Fairfax Shopping Malls: On Washington, DC Assault Charges

Box Cutter.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, a teenager was shopping at XXI Forever at a Fairfax mall when she felt a sharp pain. She first assumed she had been jabbed with a hanger until she saw blood. This slashing marks the fifth such assault in the Washington, DC Metro area since February. It has been reported that on all five occasions, the suspect distracted the victim and then slashed her with a razor or box cutter. All five victims were females between the ages of late teens to early 20s. The attacks started on Valentine's Day. In all five incidents, the alleged attacker managed to cut through at least two layers of clothing and break the skin, but all wounds were said to be superficial, and none of the victims required hospitalization. The mall manager describe the assaults as "very unique," and stated that he had never seen anything like this before. Police say they are taking the incidents very seriously.

The suspect was caught on surveillance cameras in some of the incidents and appeared to be a heavy-set Hispanic man in his late 20s who is approximately five feet, six inches tall.

As a Washington, DC assault charges lawyer, I do get calls from people who have been accused of attacking someone with a weapon. In DC, this type of assault charge is called assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon (ADW), which is a serious felony. The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia could also add additional charges like aggravated assault while armed (AAWA). One of the main things you will discuss with your criminal defense attorney is whether these charges are appropriate, or if the government is trying to overcharge the case to scare you into taking a bad plea deal. They do this all the time.

Another charge that may not be appropriate to your case is assault with significant injury. The prosecutor may try to show pictures to a jury of a victim bleeding even though the wounds are only superficial, and the alleged victim did not require emergency medical attention. One of the most important things your attorney can do to help defend a Washington, DC assault charge is work closely with their private investigator to find out what really happened. The police have their side of the story, and you have yours. The police report was done for the purpose of getting a conviction, and not necessary for the purpose of telling the whole truth, even if it's bad for their case.

In previous entries of this blog, I have discussed simple assault charges.

July 26, 2011

Washington, DC Police Officer Sentenced to 7 Months in Jail on Attempted Burglary Charge: On Conspiracy Charges

tape_recorder.jpgAs discussed in a previous post of this blog, Washington, DC police officer Jennifer Green was arrested on burglary charges. Green pleaded guilty to meeting a police informant at the Macombo Lounge where the two talked about an apartment that contained large amounts of drugs and money. Green told the confidential informant (CI) that she would take the money, and he could take the drugs. The following night, the CI called Green and asked her if she "was still trying to do that." She responded, "Yeah, man, you got what you need to do that?" and asked for the address of the apartment. Later than night, the informant met Green at her apartment, and they drove to the area where the apartment was located. Green used her police radio to monitor 4D police traffic in the area. The CI then pulled out a crowbar and went into the apartment. He returned with $1050 in marked bills and a plastic bag containing counterfeit crack cocaine. Green counted the money and told the CI that the total was a "G 50," and that she would keep $600 and give him the rest. Green was arrested outside her apartment. According to a related article in the Washington Post, 18 DC police officers have been arrested this year on charges that include receiving stolen property (RSP) and even murder.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer who handles burglary charges, I have discussed this issue before. However, one area that I would like to focus on for this post is a conspiracy charge. If the government can establish that a conspiracy existed, the statements by the co-conspirators can be used against all defendants who were engaged in the conspiracy. The police may also be able to charge all defendants with any crimes committed by fellow conspirators.

One major issue that arises and needs to be addressed by your DC conspiracy charges lawyer is whether there was a confidential informant. In order to have a conspiracy, all people involved must have intent to engage in a criminal activity. If you talked to a confidential informant, that CI does not have the intent to engage in a crime. He or she has the intent of helping the police arrest you. An attorney who is familiar of the law can attempt to use previous legal decisions to show that you cannot conspire with the police or their agent, so the informant's statements should not be used against you. This is complex area of criminal defense that you should discuss with your attorney as soon as possible.

July 25, 2011

Auto Theft: On Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (UUV) and Receiving Stolen Property Charges in Washington, DC

car lock.jpgAs a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney, one type of case that I handle involves the various charges related to a stolen car. One of the most serious charges is unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUV). It is very difficult for the government to prove that the defendant was the person who actually stole a car so they generally go with the UUV charge. This basically means that you were driving a vehicle without the owner's permission. It does not matter if you originally stole the car or obtained it from the person who did. Some people may think this is a minor charge like "joy ridding," but UUV is a serious felony charge in Washington, DC punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to five years of imprisonment.

Another charge that usually goes with UUV is receiving stolen property. The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) will typically charge the driver with receiving stolen property (the car). This DC stolen car charge requires proof that the defendant knew, or should reasonably have known that he car was stolen. This is easier to prove if the car is hotwired or the ignition is "punched." If the stolen property (car) is worth $1,000 or more, the charge is a felony punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison and a $5000 fine. If the stolen property is worth less than $1,000, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Unfortunately, some of my clients also were found with drugs and guns in the car at the time of their arrest. As I have discussed in previous entries, a defendant in this situation could be charged with additional felonies such as carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL), possession with intent to distribute (PWID) a controlled substance, PWID while armed, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime or dangerous offense. This is reason that auto theft is treated so seriously in the District of Columbia is that a stolen car may be used to commit more dangerous offenses. It should be noted that many of the cars stolen are older models with less sophisticated security systems. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, car theft is down in Washington, DC because new cars have ignition systems that are virtually impossible to hotwire.

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July 20, 2011

An Alcohol Related Hit and Run in the Washington, DC Metro Area: on Leaving after Colliding Charges

crash_car.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, Alexander Coreas hit a stopped vehicle on the Washington, DC Beltway and drove away from the scene. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage. The stopped vehicle was driven by Charles Adjei-Twum, who was standing behind his car when he saw Coreas allegedly coming towards him and jumped into the back seat of his vehicle to avoid serious injury. According to reports, a witness called the police after the crash while following Coreas as he fled the scene. Coreas was arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), and a number of other traffic violations including unsafe operation, hit-and-run (leaving after colliding), failure to control speed to avoid a collision, and failure to stop at a stop sign.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who handles DUI charges and traffic violations, I would like to discuss a leaving after colliding (LAC) charge. A LAC charge may involve personal injury or property damage. A hit and run charge that involves property damage is called a "LAC PD" charge in Washington, DC. If you have been charged with LAC PD, while this is a serious offense, it is important to remember than an arrest does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. One of the most important things your lawyer can assist you with is contacting your insurance company and obtaining proof that the owner of the vehicle that was hit has been compensated for any damage to his or her vehicle. This may help you obtain a favorable resolution to your case.

Leaving after colliding is a serious offense in Washington, DC because you are alleged to have left the scene of an accident rather than staying to make sure everybody is okay. Your DC traffic violations lawyer may be able help you take responsibility in court in a way that can reduce the charges you are facing.

July 18, 2011

Marion Barry's Son Charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) PCP, and PWID Marijuana: On Washington, DC Drug Charges

PCP.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington City Paper, Marion Christopher Barry, son of former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute (PWID) PCP, and PWID marijuana. It has been reported that police responded to Barry's apartment in response to what sounded like a fight. When DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) officers knocked on the door, someone answered but would not open the door. The police called the DC fire department to open the door. Once in the apartment, Barry allegedly jumped out a window and fled. Police say they found a vial of liquid PCP and five sandwich bags almost completely full of marijuana. Barry later returned to the apartment on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in SW, Washington, DC seeking medical treatment for his bleeding foot. Barry had been previously arrested for assault on a police officer in 2005 but those charges were dismissed.

As a Washington, DC drug charges lawyer who handles cases involving marijuana, PCP, and other controlled substances, I would like to discuss one of the most important parts of a good defense: a motion to suppress evidence. One of the common things about most Washington, DC drug cases is that the defendant was arrested with drugs on their person or in their general area. This means that unless you can show that the drugs belonged to somebody else, the most effective way to defend the case is challenge the way in which the police discovered, collected, and tested the evidence. If your criminal defense attorney is able to show that the police were in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, the judge may rule the evidence inadmissible. At this point, the prosecution will probably dismiss the charges because they can't win at trial if they can't mention the drugs. I have talked about motions to suppress evidence in Washington, DC criminal cases on previous posts of this blog.

July 13, 2011

My Husband/Fiancé/Son Has Been Arrested on a Washington, DC Gun Charge, Will He Have to Stay in Jail Until Trial?

DC CPWL.jpg often get calls from family members of people who have been arrested in Washington, DC on gun charges. The most common charges are carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL) and related charges such as felon in possession of a firearm, possession with intent to distribute (PWID) while armed, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. One of the first questions that people ask is if I can help get their loved one out of jail. They want to know if I can get the judge to allow them to wear an electronic motoring bracelet (aka "ankle bracelet" or "being on the box").

The answer to this question depends on various factors, including the circumstances of the alleged offense, the defendant's prior criminal record, and timing. When someone is arrested on a gun charge in Washington, DC, they will be taken from the district police station to the Central Cell Block (CCB). Once at the CCB, they will be brought to court for an arraignment on the first day court is in session. If you are arrested on a day court is open and at the CCB before 10:30am, you will probably be arraigned the same day. If you miss the "felony cutoff" you will have to wait until the next court day.

At an arraignment, the clerk of court will read the charges, and the United States Attorney has the opportunity to ask for the defendant to be held without a bond. In a CPWL or other gun case, the government will almost always ask for a no-bond hold, and it will usually be granted. At this time, the defendant will be transferred to the DC Jail (Central Detention Facility). On the next day court is open, the defendant will be taken back to court for a preliminary hearing. This is basically the best, and possibly only chance, to get released on bond and into the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP). HISP is the program that allows a defendant to be released with an ankle bracelet. If a criminal defense attorney makes a compelling argument, it is possible to get a pretrial release. If not, there may not be another chance. You can always ask the assigned judge at a later time, but the judge will usually defer to the earlier judge's ruling. On previous posts in this blog, I have discussed the process of a 100-day case in Washington, DC Superior Court.

I recently had a case where the mother of a defendant called me late one evening and told me that her son was just charged with CPWL, and his preliminary hearing was the next morning. As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney, I am used to late night visits to the jail. When I met her son at the jail that evening, he told me that his court-appointed lawyer said there was no point in asking to be released with an ankle bracelet. The next morning he was granted a release and placed in HISP after I argued on his behalf. While this may not always happen, I can tell you the cases I have had were a previous attorney failed to make an argument for release, the assigned judge would not later allow the defendant to be released before trial.

July 4, 2011

The Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC would like to wish all of our friends, family, and clients a happy Fourth of July.

fireworks.jpgI would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients, friends and family a safe and happy Fourth of July. I would also like to stress that while this a great time to go to BBQs and watch fireworks, it is often a day that sees many DUI related arrests and alcohol-related traffic accidents. The police around Washington, DC such as the US Capitol Police, the US Park Police, and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), typically set up field sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers.

If you should find yourself in the unfortunate position of having been arrested for a DUI or DWI in Washington, DC, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, but keep in mind that it is much easier and safer to call a taxi or use a designated driver. Many people don't realize how little it takes to reach the legal limit. In Washington, DC, the legal limit for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge is 0.08. This can be tested using a breathalyzer, urinalysis, or blood test. It is does not always require a large of amount of alcohol to be consumed to be over the limit. Even if you are below the legal limit, you can still be charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge if the officers can prove that you were under the influence of alcohol.

There is often a lot that can be done to help your situation if you find yourself in a police holding cell at the end of the night with a DUI arrest, but I urge you to play it safe and get a ride home so you're not in this situation.