D.C. Defense Lawyers Advise Sex Crimes Defendants to Remain Silent

December 15, 2012
By Daniel A. Gross on December 15, 2012 9:35 AM |

A 19-year-old suspect in a series of D.C. sexual assaults has reportedly admitted to at least two of the crimes of which he is accused, according to media reports. imyself.jpg

As a D.C. criminal defense lawyer, I wanted to highlight this case because it's an example of what not to do after you are arrested. The defendant in this case had no attorney and, when questioned by police, gave a full confession. As a result, he has essentially handed the case to prosecutors with a red holiday bow tied on top.

Here's what reportedly happened, according to court records:

In the first case, the accuser indicated that she answered a knock at the door around 2 p.m. one day. A man was standing outside and reportedly pushed his way inside her apartment in Northeast Washington. Once inside, he reportedly knocked her to the floor, attempted to sexually assault her. He then allegedly punched, kicked and stabbed her. She suffered wounds to her face, back, legs and head. He left her on the floor unconscious. She was listed in critical condition, though expected to survive.

A week later, police reported that the same defendant went into a female dorm at Howard University and pushed his way into a woman's room. He then reportedly struck her, brandished brass knuckles with a sharp blade and began to sexually assault her. When she yelled for him to stop, the defendant reportedly stopped. He then grabbed a piece of paper, wrote an abbreviation of his name and his cell phone number on it. He left the piece of paper in the room and then left.

Police were able to use this information, in combination with surveillance video from the earlier incident, to arrest the 19-year-old suspect.

Upon his arrest, he told police that he had only attempted to rob the first woman. In the second incident, he maintained the encounter was consensual.

Students at the dorm told police a man fitting the defendant's description had been loitering in the area on numerous occasions, but had always departed when told.

The defendant is charged with assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to commit first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree sexual abuse. These are all very serious crimes for which the defendant is facing a lengthy prison sentence.

First-degree sexual abuse alone, under D.C. Criminal Code 22-2002, can carry a life sentence and a fine of up to $250,000. Essentially to prove this crime, prosecutors have to show that the defendant engaged another person in a sexual act, either by actual physical force or by threat of force that placed the other person in reasonable fear that failure to do so would result in death or serious injury. It also may involve rendering the other person unconscious through the use of a chemical or drug in order to sexually assault that person.

Upon your arrest, police are required to read you what are known as "Miranda Rights," and included in these is your right to remain silent, with the advisement that anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly when you are facing such grave charges.

There are ways that confessions can be refuted in court, but it can be tough. So the general advice we give everyone arrested in a crime is this: Stay silent, except to demand an attorney.

If you have been arrested in Washington D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Police Make Arrest in Brutal NE Beating, Stabbing, Nov. 4, 2012, By NBC 4 Washington

Suspect allegedly admits to attacking one of two victims in recent D.C. assaults
, Nov. 5, 2012, By Keith L. Alexander and Peter Herman, The Washington Post

More Blog Entries:
Former Aide, Cheerleader, Pleads Guilty to D.C. Sex Crime Involving Minor, Oct. 22, 2012, D.C. Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog