As Seen On
As Seen On:

Difference Between Assault and Assault on An Officer in DC

Assault on a police officer is no different from an assault charge on some other lay person in the sense of what the government needs to prove. The government still must prove that the person knowingly engaged in certain conduct and there is still the possibility of certain defenses for those charged and their DC assault on an officer lawyer.

However, there are some important distinctions with regards to an APO charge versus an assault on some other person. It is not lawful to resist even an unlawful arrest. That is a concept that is very difficult to understand for someone who is not versed in criminal law. When a police officer tells someone that they are detained so that the officer can do his or her investigation, it is not okay to react in the same fashion as if it was some random person trying to detain someone.

If any non-law enforcement officer took those actions against a person, that person has a right to self-defense. However, when law enforcement is involved, the person is not allowed to resist, even if the officer is incorrect in what they are doing.

Prosecutorial Differences

In a common assault case, two individuals don’t know each other and one of them is accused of injuring the other one. People commonly move in and out of DC and during the course of the case, the complainant may have only been here for a weekend and gets punched in a bar. When it is not a serious physical injury, it is charged as a misdemeanor. After several months, when the complainant is no longer around, they may have lost interest in coming back and pursuing it. That is not terribly unusual.

On the other hand, in the case of assault on police officer, one, it is almost certain that the complainant being a police officer is still around. They live and work here and this is their career. Two, they are extremely interested in carrying through with the prosecution and cooperating with the prosecutors in every way possible. They are not going to be a reluctant witness, or someone who changes their mind. This is a police officer who has every incentive to come in and testify against the defendant. That needs to be understood. In a situation where someone is charged with an APO, the case is very unlikely to go away because the government has lost its witness.

Body Cameras and APO Cases

When police officers are on the stand in criminal cases, they always say how they wished they had body cameras available for what happened. In other words, over the years there have been numerous instances where a police officer claims that a body camera would back them up and support their testimony.

That is what they officially say, but in reality, body cameras may also be able to stop situations where an individual has not done anything wrong and still the police are after them and they are charged with an APO offense. They are charged with resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer and the only witnesses are five police officers.

This has been in the recent news where individuals are shot and killed and the only witnesses are police officers. If there hadn’t been video that appeared later, they would have gotten away with it. Their version of events would have been what played out.

What Impact Do You See Body Cameras Having?

Mandatory body cameras are an outstanding idea to make sure the police act appropriately. When only a police officer’s buddies are the witnesses, that is what a person is faced with trying to fight. Add a body camera to that situation and it makes that situation less likely to occur when there is objective evidence showing each party’s actions. That is why the use of police body cameras, in my view, will drastically decrease the bringing of APO charges to only the ones that truly committed the offense.

That is not to say that assault on police officer, resisting arrest, or interfering with police officers doesn’t actually happen. Certainly, it does, but it doesn’t happen as often as the police claim in my opinion and experience. In many different cases and specifically with assault on police officer cases, body cameras make a real difference in making sure justice is done starting now and going forward.

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DC Assault on a Police Officer Charges

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