February 18, 2012

Washington Criminal Defense Watch: D.C. Robberies Lead To Two Arrests

A spate of reported armed robberies in Washington D.C. led to the arrest of two young people on multiple felony charges.


As an experienced D.C. robbery attorney, I understand that someone facing these kind of charges is looking at a number of serious sanctions, including potentially long-term prison sentences.

A conviction can garner anywhere from two to 15 years behind bars, depending on when and where the alleged crime occurred, the age and criminal history of the suspect and other specific circumstances. There are a lot of factors to be considered, and a good D.C. criminal defense attorney can help you to navigate each of these to produce the best possible outcome for you in the case.

Even after release, a person with a robbery conviction is going to have difficulty obtaining gainful employment, not to mention he or she will be forever stamped with the stigma of being a convicted felon.

The district's code defines robbery as an instance in which someone has taken property from someone else by using some measure of force or threat of violence - essentially, a situation that may cause the victim to be afraid.

An armed robbery is much the same, except, as the name denotes, it involves the use of a weapon, such as a gun or knife. If you are convicted of an armed robbery in Washington D.C., you could be facing as many as 30 years in prison.

In this most recent case, various news media began latching onto the story when police sought help in solving a number of thefts and armed robberies.

Investigators said that a man, aged 27, and a woman, aged 24, have been arrested on charges of armed robbery. The pair are said to have stolen a number of belongings, such as cash, cell phones and clothing.

According to police, a woman who was seated at a bus stop on 11th Street NW early one Tuesday morning was confronted and robbed of her cell phone, books, a laptop and credit cards. About two hours later, a man who was walking on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE was reportedly held up, his wallet and gold ring stolen.

Investigators have told reporters that it's possible the pair were also involved in robberies that happened on river Road, Wisconsin Avenue and 4th Street.

It's not clear yet what evidence police have in this case, or whether they will end up charging these two with even more crimes. Witnesses said the two had been identified by the gray Lincoln Town car they had reportedly been driving at the time of the crimes.

Updated news reports indicating that there were additional robberies the morning after the pair were arrested. While this is not great news for the D.C. community as a whole, it does seem to indicate that these two may not be responsible for the other robberies. Law enforcement will often try to pin other crimes on an individual they have already arrested, in an effort to close cases that are open, which improves their crime statistics.

What is important to remember is that if you ever are arrested for a felony crime, never answer police questions without an attorney present. Certain interrogation techniques could lead to you unintentionally incriminating yourself and hurting your chances of an acquittal or plea bargaining from an advantage.

Continue reading "Washington Criminal Defense Watch: D.C. Robberies Lead To Two Arrests " »

February 16, 2012

D.C. Traffic Violations Plague Man with Unusual Vanity Plate

Fighting a traffic ticket in Washington D.C. can be a headache.

For one jokester, it has become a serious nightmare.


According to media reports, the D.C. resident has racked up more than $20,000 in fines that he attributes to a clerical error, originating from his vanity license plate.

For 20 years, the man has had a vanity plate that reads "No-Tags." This has reportedly led to him receiving a ticket every time someone without a license plate is cited for a non-moving violation.

Our Washington D.C. traffic ticket law firm has seen many instances in which a person was unfairly cited by traffic attendants for non-moving violations, or by officers itching to hand out tickets.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, the district hands out more than 1.5 million traffic tickets annually. This is three times as many tickets as are issued per capita in Baltimore or Los Angeles. Consider that for just a moment. The District of Columbia has a population of about 600,000. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has a population of about 4 million people.

We have more than half as many parking tickets as Los Angeles, and yet we are less than a quarter of the size. It has become an easy revenue stream for government leaders. The actual violation is typically of little consequence.

In the vanity plates case, the man reached out to a local media outlet, after he had taken off countless days at work to have each of the tickets dismissed.

According to the new station, the man has had the "No-Tags" plate on his Chevy Avalanche for decades, and gets many smiles and good-natured ribbing from strangers. But folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles don't consider it a laughing matter.

He has been charged tens of thousands of dollars for traffic tickets in Washington D.C. that he has had nothing to do with. Any car with missing license plates or that is abandoned - he's going to get the ticket for it. Even though it has been fairly simple for him to get a dismissal on tickets that are clearly not his vehicle (different makes, models and years), any ticketed, no-tag Chevrolet is going to be his problem. Court officials have said they are unsure how the man can prove the tickets aren't his.

That has resulted in a DMV record that is so extensive, the man can't get his registration or license renewed.

This is unacceptable.

Some have asked the man why he doesn't simply change his license plate to avoid the hassle. He feels he shouldn't have to pay to have them changed, when the issue is the district's failure. He should be free to have a license plate that says whatever he wants it to, as long as it isn't profane or extremely offensive.

DMV officials said their computers aren't able to red-flag tags like his, other officials said the problem could be solved by ticketing agents writing either "xx" or the last several digits of the VIN, rather than "none" or "no tags" if someone is missing a plate.

This policy is now supposed to be in place. We will see if agents follow through.

Continue reading "D.C. Traffic Violations Plague Man with Unusual Vanity Plate" »

February 13, 2012

Alleged Underage Drinkers Targeted by Sensational Journalism in Washington D.C.

Local news reporters recently went undercover in an effort to investigate alcohol sales to underage drinkers in Washington D.C.


The news station, 9 News Now, used a hidden camera and microphone to film and record teens who were allegedly purchasing alcohol from a local liquor store.

Teens were heard on tape saying they had purchased beer and liquor from the store for years. Some were as young as 14.

Aside from the sensationalism of the issue (calling underage drinking an "epidemic"), this type of news reporting violates a host of journalistic ethics. In the one case where a reporter actually did identify herself to one of the teens filmed, the teen had no comment. The fact that these teens were filmed without their consent or that of their parents may be an issue that a Washington D.C. juvenile defense attorney could bring up if there was ever an attempt to use those tapes as evidence in court.

Still, most underage drinking charges don't come as a result of a news investigation.
Often, a minor who is questioned or arrested for underage drinking is scared. He or she may say or do things that could be stacked against them in a criminal case.

While an arrest for underage drinking may not be seen as a huge deal, if the defendant isn't properly represented, it has the potential to inflict serious negative consequences on a young person's long-term future. Not only could he or she be forced to pay a $300 fine and undergo a 90-day suspension of driving privileges, a criminal record could affect a teen's shot at being accepted into a choice university. If the teen is already a college student, they face the possibility of academic discipline - up to and including expulsion, which would inevitably affect future employment prospects.

With a good attorney, offenses like this are often pleaded down to lesser charges that involve a diversion program or community service. Sometimes, we can even negotiate to have the charges dismissed.

Many of the alleged underage drinkers in the 9 News story were identified as having attended local high schools.

Most police agencies take a hard line on this issue because it's one that is often complained about by older taxpayers. Plus, law enforcement officials want to be seen as tough on crime, and it's an easy enough arrest to make, particularly in a college town, such as Washington D.C.

The 9 News team reported that in the case of this store, the ID cards of teens were never checked by the store owner. In some cases, though, young people under the age of 21 will try to purchase alcohol or enter a bar with a fake ID in Washington D.C.

In those instances, the charge young people are actually facing is misrepresentation of age, which is a misdemeanor. That means there is a lot an attorney can negotiate for you, including dismissal of the charges in exchange for community service and a fine.

Continue reading "Alleged Underage Drinkers Targeted by Sensational Journalism in Washington D.C." »

February 11, 2012

D.C. DUI Watch: Country Star Sings the Blues After Arrest

Country music star Randy Travis may love you forever and ever (amen!), but he's likely singing the blues right now following an arrest on public intoxication charges earlier this month.


While details of the incident are still emerging, Mr. Travis may have been somewhat fortunate, as he could have faced a much more serious charge of driving under the influence. Reports indicate he was in his car, behind the wheel, at the time of his arrest.
Unfortunately, not everyone arrested for a DUI in Washington, D.C. has Mr. Travis' start power, which could have played some role in the lesser charges. Still, having an experienced Washington D.C. DUI defense attorney can help you haggle with prosecutors for a reduced charge. Depending on the circumstances, there may even be a chance to have the charges dismissed altogether - and you don't need to be a millionaire country musician to afford it.

In Mr. Travis' case, a number of media outlets are reporting the singer was pulled over in the parking lot of a church in North Texas, where police found him in front of the wheel. It's not clear whether the keys were in the ignition or if the car was even on.
Officers at the scene reported Mr. Travis, 52, smelled strongly of alcohol, and a bottle of wine was on the seat next to him.

He reportedly stumbled out of the car. When officers tried to speak to him, they said his speech was slurred. And when they asked for his driver's license, he fumbled trying to find it.

What may be important to consider here is that some of Mr. Travis' actions could be explained by nerves. It's not difficult to understand why someone would be anxious if he knew reports of an arrest would be published worldwide. Our Washington D.C. DUI defense lawyers know that while the average Joe or Jane may not have to contend with global press coverage of the incident, he or she could face serious and irreparable consequences if the news reaches an employer.

Travis was reported to have told the officers at the time that he and his wife had gotten into an argument, and he was trying to get home following a Super Bowl party. The fact that he pulled over and wasn't actually driving when officers started their investigation appeared to have worked at least somewhat in his favor, as evidenced by the lesser charge.

The penalties for a public intoxication charge, which is a misdemeanor, are typically much less severe than those for a Washington D.C. DWI. If you are convicted of a public intoxication charge, you could face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Officers also have the option, though, to simply issue a citation and drop you off either at home or a nearby detoxification center.

A DWI or DUI, on the other hand, is going to bring a harsher punishment. For the first offense, you will face up to 90 days in jail and hundreds of dollars in fines, as well as license revocation for six months. If you are convicted of DUI a second time, you'll be facing fines of up to $5,000 and up to an entire year behind bars, as well as an additional 30 days of mandatory community service. Plus, you would lose your license for an entire year. Penalties would double on the second and any subsequent offenses.
All of these could seriously impact your wallet, personal relationships, employment and freedom.

That's why it's important that the first call you make following an arrest needs to be to your attorney.

Continue reading "D.C. DUI Watch: Country Star Sings the Blues After Arrest" »

February 4, 2012

Occupy D.C. Protesters Vow To Stay in McPherson Square

The Occupy D.C. protest movement is still going strong, even though news reports have faded off in recent months.

As the news agencies turn their attention toward the political season, the Occupy movement has lost some steam in news coverage, but not in effort. There are still many people in many cities who are trying to make a difference and improve our country. Yet, for many people, these protests have led to legal problems.megaphone.bmp
Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers have scoffed at the way city leaders and police have treated these people -- the same people whose rights they are sworn to uphold. Some have been beaten and others have simply been treated unfairly. Many cases have involved juveniles charges in Washington D.C., while others are young adults in or just out of college.

According to a recent story by Agence France-Presse, protesters have said the movement "will never die," vowing to ensure the people in power still feel their pressure.

Some protesters have said that if city officials attempt to evict them from encampments, they will simply grow, as it will show that authorities are trying to abuse their power. Outrage over economic inequities and power over everyday citizens is what has led the protests to go strong now since October.

Groups have since grown to Occupy DC, Occupy Washington and Occupy Congress, among others. Groups are still trying to remain strong despite city leaders trying to evict protest camps nationwide.

While eviction is a major concern for protesters, it isn't the only issue they face. Criminal charges have been been levied against Occupy protesters in D.C. and in other cities across the nation. This is another tactic that police and others have used as a way to intimidate people into leaving.

While this may cause the movement to expand, it also has worked to disrupt many lives. While a majority of the charges have been misdemeanor charges in Washington D.C., they still can cause major problems. A criminal record for a high school student trying to get into college can be devastating. A college graduate who is trying to make their voice heard could end up with fewer job and career prospects if they are arrested and convicted.

That's why fighting these charges, regardless of how minor they may seem, is important. Job applications often ask about convictions, even for misdemeanor charges. If a person answers yes, they could end up being eliminated from many job opportunities or promotion chances.

While the movement is powerful and necessary, the protesters themselves must ensure that they have sound legal representation if they are in trouble with the law. Peaceful protests are allowed by law and law enforcement should respect that. Many of the arrests made have been on false pretenses and can be cleared up by prosecutors dropping the cases.

But even an arrest can be damaging and police are using their power to intimidate, in many cases. Make sure your voice is heard and you protest peacefully. But if officers trying to break it up through unlawful arrests, contact an experienced Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyer immediately. You have rights and they must be respected.

Continue reading "Occupy D.C. Protesters Vow To Stay in McPherson Square" »

February 3, 2012

Two Metro Employees Charged In Washington D.C. Theft Case

Two transit employees were recently arrested and charged with Washington D.C. theft after authorities allege they stole thousands of dollars in fares, The Washington Post reports.

Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers recognize that this will be a high profile media case because it involves alleged theft from public funds. Just because a person has been arrested, it doesn't mean they are guilty of the charges.
Theft charges, especially Washington D.C. white collar crimes, can lead to serious prison time. White collar crimes are typically financially motivated crimes that involved fraud or schemes to take money that is placed into a person's control.

In this case, law enforcement is saying, a man and his supervisor devised a scheme where they would make the rounds to collect cash from fare machines. The men allegedly would hide a portion of the money a few hundreds yards from their building. At the end of the day, they would meet up and split the profits.

According to The Washington Post, the two men now face federal charges of conspiracy to commit theft. The two men allegedly have been involved in the scam since 2010, according to court documents. Both face up to five years in a federal prison.

Surveillance video and a confidential informant led to the arrests. The newspaper reports that one of the men used the money to buy lottery tickets, which have won him nearly $63,000 in the last four years.

The news report states that it's unclear how much has been stolen. Prosecutors say they have found $150,000 in "unexplained" money being deposited into one of the man's bank account since 2008. Law enforcement agencies are continuing their investigation.

The men allegedly made arrangements to work on the same shift, on rail lines in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The men allegedly hid bags of cash at a nearby parking lot and the men would show up later, separately, to collect their portions. Investigators used Global Positioning System devices to track their vehicles.

These are major allegations, but they bring up important questions. In cases where law enforcement officers attempt to use confidential informants, there should always be scrutiny of those witnesses. In many cases, the people used by police to make arrests are people who have already been arrested.

They agree to plea deals with less prison time or fewer sanctions. In exchange, they are willing to testify to anything the government wants them to say. When your testimony is bought with your liberty, you may be more than willing to help the people in power.

White collar crimes often are complex schemes that have gone on for years and years. But authorities often don't have all the facts when they make arrests. Often, they are studying records for years to determine if they have enough evidence to file charges. Sometimes, they do. Other times, however, they fall short of an acceptable standard. That may not stop them from filing charges, however.

Fight these charges if you are ensnared in some kind of Washington D.C. white collar crime. Don't allow the government to use its power to soil your name. These charges are complicated and require a strong defense.

Continue reading "Two Metro Employees Charged In Washington D.C. Theft Case" »

January 27, 2012

Proposed Washington D.C. "Prostitution-Free Zone" Isn't Going to Fly

Activists are protesting, officials believe it is unconstitutional and Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers fully believe that the proposed "prostitution-free zones" will be struck down because they are far too broad and will open up the District to many legal challenges.

The controversial bill that would allow local police officers to set up what they deem prostitution-free zones was recently heard by council members. It would give police the power to detain and arrest people they suspect are engaged in street prostitution.
This bill is being proposed in response to the rise of prostitution arrests in Washington D.C. WTOP reported last fall. While arrest numbers are down, prostitution isn't.

But how could this law possibly be legal? First of all, it would give police the power to detain and arrest people with little proof that a crime was committed. If you are walking down the street in the wrong part of town or have a conversation with someone in the early hours of the morning, all of a sudden you're considered a John. What happens if you are a woman walking down the street late at night? Does that automatically make you a prostitute if you're in one of these "zones?"

Gay activists said they are planning to fight the bill, saying that it allows police to target some sectors of the community, but that takes away from the real crime that is going on throughout the District, WAMU is reporting.

On the other hand, The Washington Post reports that the D.C. Attorney General's Office recently said that the proposed bill is likely unconstitutional, which raises doubts that the council will be able to act on this proposal anyway.

In these zones, police can make arrests for up to 24 consecutive days if two or more people congregate in certain neighborhoods and ignore orders to disperse. That means that anyone hanging out, playing basketball, talking, or otherwise socializing can be arrested under these overly broad rules.

Based on the backlash, some believe that making these temporary zones permanent or expanding them is unlikely. People have a right to loiter so long as they are not intending to commit a crime.

Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers are hopeful that council members come to their senses and recognize the problems that this law makes for its residents. Combating prostitution is a novel idea, but doing so by trampling on individual rights isn't going to happen.

Being charged with soliciting for sex or being a prostitute can bring great shame to a person and their family. Not only that, it can result in up to 90 days in jail and $500 in fines for a first-time offender. Minimizing the embarrassment of an arrest, which can include work and family problems, is often a top priority. A lawyer can work toward a quick and less-damaging resolution if the defendant acts quickly.

Continue reading "Proposed Washington D.C. "Prostitution-Free Zone" Isn't Going to Fly" »

January 24, 2012

Washington D.C. DUI Manslaughter Charges Keep Man In Jail Without Bail

A man who now faces DUI manslaughter charges in Washington D.C. is being held in jail without the option of posting bail, The Washington Post is reporting.

In Washington D.C., a driver who is involved in a fatal accident can be charged with two types of crimes. First, they may be charged with vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide. The maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter is up to 30 years in prison, while negligent homicide is up to five years.
Charges of DUI in Washington D.C. that result in an accidental death are more likely to be filed as negligent homicide. But Washington D.C. DWI attorneys recognize that regardless of which charge a person faces, they are serious.

The death of a person is always going to bring great scrutiny by law enforcement officers, whether it was based on an accident or negligence. According to District of Columbia statutes 50-2203.01, negligent homicide is charged when a person operates a vehicle in a "careless, reckless or negligent manner" that causes the death of another. That includes pedestrians.

In this case, the defendant was charged with killing an 8-year-old boy in Alexandria, Virginia. During a court hearing, the man was ordered held without bail.

The Washington Post reports that the man's blood-alcohol level was .15, nearly two times the legal limit, during the accident, which happened around 2:30 p.m. one recent Sunday afternoon. The man allegedly admitted to police that he had been drinking and he failed several field sobriety tests.

The 22-year-old was driving a sedan near I-395 when he allegedly hopped a curb, traveled across some grass and then reportedly hit two pedestrians who were walking. An 8-year-old boy, who was walking with his mother, was killed. His mother now is recovering from two broken legs and a broken pelvis.

The defendant is scheduled to appear back in court in February. He faces charges of manslaughter, felonious bodily injury as a result of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and driving without a license. Based on Virginia law, the man could face between 1 and 20 years on the manslaughter charge.

There are times when an accident is simply that -- an accident. But when a person is seriously injured or killed, law enforcement officers will be looking to blame someone.

Plenty of news stories have laid out examples of cases where two drivers collide and the one who has some alcohol in their system now faces a major felony charge. But police must fully investigate the details of the case. Accidents happen every day when two sober drivers are involved, so just because one may have been drinking or their blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit doesn't mean they are guilty of causing the crash.

In fact, ABC News recently reported that a Florida man is suing the victim of a 2007 crash even though he has already pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter. He claims he entered the plea because he faced a possible life sentence, but believes the man who died as a result of an accident was to blame.

Continue reading "Washington D.C. DUI Manslaughter Charges Keep Man In Jail Without Bail" »

January 19, 2012

Fifth Amendment Allows For Silence, But D.C. Police Lie To Get People to Talk

Police detectives will do anything to try to get a person to confess to a crime, even if the suspect isn't responsible for what is being alleged.

Luckily, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows for silence. This means no person is required to talk to police -- ever. Whether it's a Washington D.C. drug crime or an assault charge, no person has to speak to detectives.
Perhaps most important to remember is that going at this alone is a bad idea. A defendant should always, without exception, be represented by a Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney when police are questioning him or her regarding a crime. These detectives will try many tactics to try to get a confession, but the key is to resist. Never speak to the police without a lawyer by your side.

Some people believe they can outsmart the police. It's highly unlikely because investigators will typically gang up on a suspect, with two officers in one interrogation room. One will be asking questions and the other will be taking notes or observing the suspect. They are trained to tell when a person is lying and they are able to check with their notes facts that the suspect tells them and determine whether that meshes with other information they've gathered.

The most popular tactic that police officers use with suspects is lying. Seems simple, but they are legally allowed to lie to suspects to try to get them to confess. They can do this in a variety of ways. They could tell the suspect that someone gave the officers facts putting them at the scene or committing the crime. The suspect then wants to explain their side of the story.

Metropolitan police often will lie to suspects, promising they could be put into some type of witness protection program, though it's highly unlikely that department or other local law enforcement agencies has a budget to put people into a home for protection. These officers get yearly training on how best to lie and exploit suspects.

But if an experienced Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyer is sitting in the interrogation room next to the suspect, the police know they aren't going to be successful. The attorney likely has heard all the lies before and knows how these detectives operate. Alone, a suspect is susceptible. Armed with a lawyer, the whole atmosphere changes.

Police are required to provide what are called Miranda warnings to people they are placing under arrest. Most people are familiar with these rights from television police shows, where officers state, "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..."

Some people breeze through these and instantly waive their rights. But re-read the words. Every person has a right to remain silent. You don't have to speak. No one can force you to speak. Any officer who says "You have to tell us your side," or "This is your only chance to talk -- I can't help you if you don't talk to me," is lying.

And the second part of that is true, as well. Anything you say is going to be recorded. The officer is taking notes and he or she will testify against you at trial. No matter what a suspect says, police will twist it to fit the set of facts they believe they have. It's rarely going to work out for the suspect.

The two things to take away from this is to always be represented by a lawyer during questioning. Being in the interrogation room alone is never going to be beneficial to a suspect. Second, don't make a statement alone. There may be times when talking to police is advantageous, but only after consulting with a Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney.

Continue reading "Fifth Amendment Allows For Silence, But D.C. Police Lie To Get People to Talk" »

January 18, 2012

On Assault with Intent to Kill and Other Serious Washington, DC Felonies

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who handles serious felonies, I often get calls from wives, girlfriends, or parents of people charged with assault with intent to kill (AWIK), assault with a dangerous weapon (ADW), and other similar charges. Make no mistake, these are very serious charges and must be handled quickly and properly to help get the best possible result for your loved one.Hospital.jpg

The first thing to think about is if you can get him out of jail before trial. Let's look at the process of being held on a serious felony in Washington, DC. After being taken to a police station and booked, he will be transferred to the Metropolitan Police Department (MDP) Central Cellblock (CCB). The CCB is located underneath MDP headquarters at 300 Indiana Avenue. If the defendant has been processed into the CCB before 10:00am on a weekday, he will make the "felony cutoff" and be taken to Superior Court and held in the US Marshal's cellblock until 2:00pm. On a weekend, it may be much earlier in the day.

The next step is to go to courtroom C-10 for presentment. This is when the attorney you hire will plead not guilty, waive a formal reading of the charges, request initial discovery, and ask that the defendant be release on his personal promise to appear at the next court date. If the defendant is charged with AWIK, or ADW, there is very little chance of being released at this point. The presentment judge will almost certainly place a hold on the defendant and he will be taken to DC jail until the next court date for a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing does offer a real chance to get the defendant released, placed in a halfway house, or given an ankle bracelet (put on the box). If your attorney makes the proper arguments and the facts are in your favor, this is basically the only chance to get released before trial. If it doesn't happen at the preliminary hearing, the defendant will probably be held for the next 100 days. If you are going to hire a private attorney to represent your loved one on DC felony charge, you should do so as soon as possible, so that he can help at the preliminary hearing.

Regardless of release conditions, the case will be considered a Felony One and will be assigned to an experienced prosecutor who will have a lot of recourses to conduct an investigation and find evidence to help convict the defendant. It is important for the attorney you hire to have a good investigator of his own who can help do the same for you and find out all of the problems with the government's case. These cases must be handled carefully so that the best result can be achieved. Always remember that an arrest is not a conviction.

January 16, 2012

Man Sentenced to 100 Years in Prison on Washington D.C. Gun Charges

A recent case out of Maryland shows just how serious Washington D.C. gun charges can be as a Baltimore man was recently sentenced to 100 years in prison on a variety of charges.

Our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers see people every week who are facing gun charges and often they accompany other charges, including drug charges or other offenses.
Police often like to compile charges to give the prosecution an advantage at trial. The more charges a defendant faces, the more difficult the plea negotiations are. In most areas of the country, more than 95 percent of all cases end in a plea. There are times when a trial is appropriate, but there is a gamble involved.

So, if a defendant faces drug charges and a gun is found nearby, police may try to tie that to the drug crime. If a person is charged with robbery and a vehicle is pulled over and there is a gun inside, detectives may try to say the person possessed a gun during the robbery, even if no one saw it.

When guns are added to the mix of criminal activity, penalties can increase. Washington D.C. political leaders have been trying to take away gun owners' rights for years and the police try to make possessing a weapon into a crime.

According to Metropolitan Police Department statistics, officers recovered 1,919 weapons in 2011, which is slightly down from years past:

2012 (through January 10): 53
2011: 1,919
2010: 2,213
2009: 2,321
2008: 2,534
207: 2,304

The total for 2011 was the lowest in nearly a decade. It's unclear whether this means fewer weapons are being used in crimes or if police aren't doing as much enforcement as they have in the past.

According to The Sun, the 28-year-old D.C. man was recently sentenced to 100 years in prison for 11 felonies, including up to 50 burglaries and nine home invasions throughout Prince George's County.

The man was accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl and still faces charges of murder in a 2009 slaying of a mother and daughter. Authorities say the man would pick homes where he assumed the homeowners were wealthy and he would cut phone lines and listen to police scanners in committing his home invasions, The Washington Post reports.

Police allege that he used guns in his crimes and attempted to illegally sell them, getting the attention of the Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After obtaining search warrants, police say the man, who worked for UPS and was pursuing several college degrees, went from nothing more than a speeding ticket to burglary, home invasion robberies and now he's accused of murder.

While this defendant faced many charges aside from gun charges, no doubt the allegations of using weapons increased the potential penalties he faced. He has a long road ahead as he faces charges for two separate murders.

Continue reading "Man Sentenced to 100 Years in Prison on Washington D.C. Gun Charges" »

January 12, 2012

Washington D.C. Residential Burglaries On the Rise, Report Says

A recent increase in residential burglaries in the Washington D.C. and Maryland areas has put local police and residents on alert, the Chevy Chase Patch is reporting.

A Washington D.C. burglary can be a terrifying situation for a homeowner who comes home to find their possessions gone, home invaded and life turned upside down. A person who gets wrapped up in a burglary charge faces an equally terrifying situation.
Our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers have seen many examples of people arrested for a residential burglary simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

One common way law enforcement officers try to identify the person responsible for a house break-in is through eyewitness testimony or through the testimony of a co-defendant. Studies have shown that people are inherently unreliable when it comes to accurately identifying what a person looks like. And a snitch will say anything. New Jersey court officials recently put restrictions on eyewitness testimony because they reversed so many convictions based on testimony that was flawed or later found to be wrong.

So, this often leads to a person who happened to be walking nearby being considered a suspect. In sloppy police cases, a person may be arrested simply for being around a victim's house at the wrong time.

In other situations, friends may pile in a car and go for a joyride or out to have some fun when the car gets pulled over. Perhaps the driver had committed a burglary hours earlier and didn't tell the friends. If witnesses said several people were in the burglarized house, all of a sudden, the police have a car-full of suspects. This type of situation has happened more than you might think.

Let's hope police investigating the recent string of burglaries in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda area don't make the same mistakes. The Patch reports that 24 burglaries were reported in the second district in December and January, through January 5.

Potomac reports that there have also been a higher number of burglaries there than expected, as residents have decided to form a public safety coalition to help. View this as a whole gaggle of potentially unreliable witnesses that are teaming up. Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police have jurisdiction over several recent Western Avenue burglaries in the last month as well.

Among the second district crimes, police say two men knocked on several doors before trying to go in through a side window. In one case, the men were scared off by a person inside. A few hours later, nearby, police believe the same men unsuccessfully tried to burglarize another house.

In another incident, police say a man was driving a blue Chevrolet near a house that was burglarized and in two other incidents a navy blue car was described.

In a Bethesda burglary, a man was trying to get into a white car that was parked in the driveway of the victim's home. The same car was said to be seen in other recent burglary attempts.

In all three incidents, witnesses provided very weak descriptions of the alleged suspects and white cars and blue cars are very common throughout the area. Police should have better evidence than a shade of color on a car and a 20-year age range in suspects before making arrests for these serious charges.

Continue reading "Washington D.C. Residential Burglaries On the Rise, Report Says" »

January 10, 2012

Assaults in Washington D.C. Pick Up As It Gets Colder: What You Need to Know

As we hit January in Washington D.C., college students are back to class and the temperature will continue to drop. A combination of these factors and others usually means people are hitting up the local bars and spending long nights bundled up indoors.

There are times when a long night of drinking and reveling with friends can lead to some serious trouble with the law. Being charged with assault in Washington D.C. can not only derail a college education or a career, but it can lead to penalties and fines and fees and a headache.
Our Washington D.C. assault defense lawyers are prepared to handle these types of cases because we recognize that a person shouldn't have to bear the burden of one mistake for the rest of their lives. Mistakes happen and accidents happen, but sometimes overzealous police officers make a mountain out of a molehill not taking into consideration the harm that can do to the suspect.

In Washington D.C., there are different forms of assault charges and the penalties vary greatly depending on which level of charge the person faces. They can range from misdemeanors to felonies and can be punishable with minor jail time or serious prison time. Each case varies based on its individual facts.

-A simply assault is something as minor as a threat, which tends to happen every day. In most cases, people disregard it and everyone moves on with their lives. In some cases, people press charges and that can lead to 180 days in custody and/or a $1,000 fine.

-Assault with significant injury is a felony and is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $3,000 fine. Pretty self explanatory.

-Aggravated assault. This is another felony and when the scale of penalties increases to 10 years plus a $10,000 fine. An attempted aggravated assault cuts those penalties in half. The law states that if a person acts intentionally, purposefully or with a disregard for human life and causes serious injury, they face this charge.

-Armed aggravated assault. An aggravated assault while armed with a weapon can lead to up to 15 years in prison.

-Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon. This is another serious assault charge on the books in Washington D.C. If a person is carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon while assaulting someone, they can be sent to prison for 10 years.

None of these charges are minor and you can imagine they happen fairly frequently in the District's bar areas. You've probably seen some of these go down in the early hours of the day at your local watering hole.

But there are defenses to these charges, including self-defense and weak eyewitness accounts, that can go a long way toward beating the charges or getting them dropped. Every case is different, but what doesn't change is the need and requirement for a suspect to have an experienced and knowledgeable Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney helping them throughout their court case.

Continue reading "Assaults in Washington D.C. Pick Up As It Gets Colder: What You Need to Know" »

January 6, 2012

Property Crimes in D.C.: Larceny, Robbery, Burglary, Shoplifting, Fraud (Happy New Year!)

There will be no shortage of D.C. theft crimes making their way through the court system this month. There is typically an uptick of home burglaries during the holidays. Shoplifting, theft and credit card fraud allegations are also common. January signals the start of those cases through the court system.

A D.C. criminal defense attorney should be consulted in each of these cases. In many instances, a sound defense can be built. In all cases, a conviction can lead to long-term consequences, including an inability to hold certain jobs or work in certain professions. Nobody wants to be labeled a thief. 657836_forced_entry.jpg

The LakeRidge-OccoquanPatch is reporting police arrested two D.C. men, ages 23 and 24, after a report of a burglary in progress in the area of Shady River Court. Police stopped their vehicle near Potomac Plaza, based on a description provided by witnesses. The men are facing charges of burglary, grand larceny and credit card larceny.

Now, unless the defendants were driving a pink hearse -- EVEN if the defendants were driving a pink hearse -- an experienced defense attorney will challenge probable cause for the traffic stop. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. "Blue car" is not going to be sufficient probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, let alone to conduct a search. Still, police did search the vehicle and recovered items valued at $1,600 that are believed to have been stolen.

D.C. Theft Charges

Under D.C. law, theft of items valued at more than $1,000 is first-degree theft and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Second-degree theft is theft of items valued at less than $1,000 and is punishable by up to six months in jail. Your defense attorney may seek to reduce a first-degree theft charge by challenging the value of the items stolen, or by contesting a move by law enforcement to combine the value of two or more items or occurrences in order to justify a charge of theft in the first degree.

D.C. Burglary Charges

First-Degree Burglary: Involves breaking and entering and theft of items from an occupied home. Punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Second-Degree Burglary: Breaking and entering and theft from an unoccupied dwelling. Punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

D.C. Robbery Charges

Robbery is defined as the taking of the property of another by force or by threat of force and can include stealthy seizure or snatching. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Armed robbery involving a gun or other dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Other theft crimes in D.C.

-Purse Snatching
-Mail or Wire Fraud
-Credit Card Fraud
-Auto Theft

Each case is unique and a defense must be built after thorough review of the facts and circumstances. Part of any defense is making sure the defendant is facing the right charge, given the alleged facts. For instance, a misdemeanor trespass should not be filed as a burglary, or a burglary as a robbery. Receiving stolen property is another charge that if often abused by law enforcement -- frequently as an attempt to get a defendant to make incriminating statements against another.

Seeking a D.C. defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience to defend your rights may keep you out of jail and may keep a theft conviction off your permanent record.

Continue reading "Property Crimes in D.C.: Larceny, Robbery, Burglary, Shoplifting, Fraud (Happy New Year!)" »

January 5, 2012

D.C. Police Chases often Result in Serious Traffic Charges

A 54-year-old local man is facing a slew of charges, including attempted capital murder of a police officer, after a car chase that led to a fiery crash. This case illustrates an age-old truism: Police can charge you with whatever they want. What matters is what you are convicted of in a court of law. If you are facing motor-vehicle charges, contact a D.C. traffic defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Car chases are instigated by police. Yet when serious or fatal accidents occur as a result, a defendant can face a lifetime of charges. What's worse, passengers in the vehicle -- often little more than captives to a driver's decision to flee -- may also be charged with serious felony crimes. 937355_car_chase.jpg

Police report the D.C. man was driving a black sedan on I-95 about 1 a.m. when he drove off the road and into a cement Jersey wall before continuing on. The driver allegedly failed to stop for the trooper before driving into the rest area at the 154 mile marker near Dumfries. The vehicle was driven into a ditch and caught fire and police say the driver pulled a gun when the officer attempted to pull him from the car.

The driver then complied with the trooper's demands to put the gun down and surrendered without further incident. Might the defendant simply have been attempting to get rid of the gun, or alert the officer to its presence, as he was fleeing a burning vehicle?

In the wake of the incident, police have charged him with driving under the influence of drugs, illegal possession of Oxycontin, hit-and-run, reckless driving, attempting to elude a police officer, possession of stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The News & Messenger also reports the 54-year-old man faces an attempted capital murder charge.

This is classic. The government has hit the defendant with enough charges to make an upcoming plea offer sound reasonable in comparison. If you are facing attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, pleading guilty to DUI and possession of a firearm by a felon sounds like a nice break. Each case is unique, but the government's first offer is rarely it's best offer. Speaking to a qualified D.C. criminal defense attorney is your best option. Often your best defense is an aggressive offense.

While the presence of the handgun complicates this case, it is otherwise not unique when it comes to charges defendants face after a police chase.

Other common traffic-related charges in D.C. include:

-Criminal speeding

-Operating after Suspended License (OAS)

-Operating after Revoked License (OAR)

-Auto Theft


-Aggravated assault/Assault with a deadly weapon

-Vehicular manslaughter

Cases involving very serious or fatal injuries are always serious and can lead to manslaughter charges even when the victim is a passenger in the at-fault driver's vehicle. But even when an accident does not occur, refusing to stop for law enforcement draws their ire. Consequently, defendants are often charged with just about every conceivable crime officers at the scene can dream up.

Defense of those charges begins when you call an experienced defense attorney. Those who fail to properly defend themselves, can end up facing needless time behind bars.

Continue reading "D.C. Police Chases often Result in Serious Traffic Charges" »