Self Defense as Violent Crime Defense

- Lotze Mosley

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Annual 2014 Crime In The United States report showed that the estimated number of violent crimes decreased slightly when compared to 2013 data. In 2014, law enforcers all over the U.S. reported a total of 1,165,383 violent crimes with police making 498,666 arrests for various violent crimes that year.

In Washington, D.C., the District of Columbia statute, particularly Section 23-1331 refers to the following as ‘crimes of violence’:

  • Act of terrorism
  • Various types of assaults (on a police officer, with a dangerous weapon, with intent to kill, with significant bodily injury)
  • First and second degrees of sexual abuse
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking and armed carjacking
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Blackmail or extortion with threats of violence

Penalties for Violent Crimes

A charge for a violent crime is a serious case that can lead to severe penalties such as long periods of jail time and fines, depending on the actual crime charged and existence of a prior conviction for the same crime. A conviction for a crime of violence can also have a severe impact on your life, often causing difficulties in obtaining quality employment, housing, and higher education.

If you are charged with a violent crime, it’s absolutely necessary to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Right to Self Defense

Depending on the circumstances of the case, your lawyer may determine that self-defense may be raised against the charge for a violent crime such as assault or manslaughter. Certain rules come into play in this type of criminal defense. For instance, courts have ruled that:

  • Where evidence of self defense is present, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. And if prosecution fails to prove that the defendant did not act in self defense, the defendant must be acquitted
  • Self defense is not available when the defendant was also the aggressor or the person who provoked the conflict
  • It is also not an act of self defense when the defendant used a greater force than was reasonably necessary under the situation. But even if excessive force was used, the defense of self defense may still be available if there is evidence that the defendant acted in the heat of passion brought on by the assault

Defending a charge for a violent crime involves a complicated mix of technical rules of procedure and substantive legal precedents that only a seasoned criminal defense attorney can handle.

In Washington, D.C., the lawyers here at Lotze Mosley, LLP have been practicing criminal defense litigation since 1993. Our firm works very hard to ensure that our clients get the best possible outcome, whether a dismissal or reduction of the charges for violent crimes.

We encourage you to call us today at (202) 393-0535 to speak to one of our attorneys about your case.