Simple Assault in D.C.
“Assault” is defined generally as the threat or use of force on another person that causes that person to have reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact. Assault can be a civil wrong (or “tort”). It can also be a crime.
There are three forms of misdemeanor assault (that is, simple assault) in Washington, D.C. First, there is “attempted battery assault” which occurs when the defendant injures or attempts to injure another person. The second form, “intent-to-frighten” assault, is defined as a threatening act that puts another person in reasonable fear of immediate injury. Finally, “non-violent sexual touching assault” is the intentional touching of another person’s body without the other person’s consent. The touching in this third form must be on a part of the other person’s body that “would cause fear, shame, humiliation or mental anguish in a person of reasonable sensibility if done without consent.”
In the first two cases, the prosecution must also demonstrate that the defendant’s act was voluntary and that the defendant had the actual ability to injure the other person at the time of the incident. “Injury” is defined as any physical injury, however slight, and includes an “offensive touching.” The penalty for either form of this type of assault is $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 180 days.
A more serious form of assault occurs when: (1) the assault or threatening acts cause significant bodily injury to the victim and (2) the acts that caused the injury were intentional, knowing, or reckless on the part of the offender. The penalty for this offense is a maximum fine of $3,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.
“Significant bodily injury” is an injury that requires hospitalization or immediate medical attention. “Menacing manner” is defined to include: (1) an act on the part of the accused (which need not result in injury), (2) the apparent ability to injure the victim at the time the act is committed, and (3) the intent to perform the act which constitutes the assault at the time the act is committed. D.C. Criminal Code 22-404.
To learn about the most serious form of assault, aggravated assault, please click here.