Criminal Law in the District of Columbia
If you or a loved one have been questioned in or arrested for a Washington DC crime, you are likely scared, stressed, and worried- all with good reason. After all, your future, finances, and freedom are all at stake.
If you're like most people, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure how to move forward. If this sounds like what you are feeling, this article was written for you.
This article (which is based upon Washington DC criminal law), will discuss:
- Washington DC criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Washington DC; and
- How to work with your Washington DC criminal defense attorney.
Washington DC Criminal Laws
District of Columbia criminal laws are found in Title 22 of the Columbia Code Annotated.There are hundreds of crimes listed in the DC Crimes Code, including drunk driving, theft, child neglect, desecration of the American flag, drug possession, selling drugs in a school zone, burglary, domestic abuse, stalking, and shoplifting.
Your defense lawyer will explain the criminal charges against you.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.
For example, in Washington DC, the statute of limitations for:
- Robbery is 6 years (D.C. Code В§ 23-113(a)(4)).
- Murder (first and second degree) is unlimited (D.C. Code В§ 23-113(a)(1)(A)).
- Assault and Batter is either 3 or 6 years, depending on the facts of the case (D.C. Code В§ 23-113(a)(4) or (5)).
Your defense lawyer will explain the statute of limitations for the criminal charges against you.
Although judges have discretion, Washington DC has sentencing guidelines which provides a range of standard punishments. Judges take into consideration previous criminal history and aggravated circumstances. The goal of the guidelines is to apply the law uniformly.
Your defense lawyer will explain the potential punishment for criminal charges against you.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
- You need a qualified Washington DC criminal defense lawyer, immediately. The sooner, the better.
- You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Washington DC Criminal Defense Lawyer
- Once you make the hiring decision, have confidence in your attorney and take his or her advice. Legal advice is what you're paying for. Take it. Always.
- Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Return all law firm correspondence or phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- Stay in contact with your attorney. Make sure the criminal defense office always has your current address and phone number.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you; perhaps even challenge you.
- Know that it is in your best interest for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with police officers, investigators, witnesses, the alleged victim, and the district attorney (or other prosecutor).
Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or arrested for a crime in Washington DC, you need legal help. Why? Because you need individualized advice and aggressive representation - regardless of whether you're innocent or guilty.
To find a Washington DC criminal defense attorney, search our site, www.attorneys.org, or ask the bar association or a friend for a referral.