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Monday, April 22, 2019

Jason Kalafat Named to 2019 Super Lawyers


The Law Office of Jason Kalafat founder Jason Kalafat has been named by Super Lawyers as a Super Lawyer in the area of criminal defense in Washington, D.C.   

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.


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Monday, August 14, 2017

Remaining Silent: Why it's Never a Good Idea to Speak to the Police

I’m often asked, “what is the one thing you wish you could have advised your clients before they hired you?”  The answer to that question is easy, DO NOT SPEAK TO THE POLICE.

Time and time again, after I am retained in a criminal defense matter, I learn that my clients spoke to the police about their cases before hiring me.  Those conversations take many forms, ranging from short “informal” discussions to formal interrogations. With very few exceptions, it is never in someone’s best interest to speak to the police if there is any chance whatsoever the police are investigating them for a crime.  By speaking to the police you are providing them with a significant amount of evidence that can be used against you at trial (remember, statements given to police by a criminal defendant are admissible in any prosecution brought against them).


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Thursday, September 15, 2016

I Got a Hit and Run Letter from the DC Police, What Should I do?

When an individual is suspected of having been involved in a leaving after colliding, or "hit and run," offense, a law enforcement agency, usually the Metropolitan Police Department, will send a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle involved in the accident.  The letter will state that the owner of the vehicle is required to report to a particular police precinct on a specific date and time for an interview with a detective or other officer.  The letter asks the owner to bring various information with them, including proof of insurance and registration.  The letter also demands the owner be prepared to inform the police who had access to the vehicle when the accident occurred and specifically who was driving the vehicle.  The letter ends by making an empty threat that if the owner does not report to the police with the required information "a warrant may issue for your arrest."


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Friday, April 25, 2014

D.C. Federal Judge Standing Up for the Constitution

Federal magistrate judges nationwide, including right here in the District of Columbia, are thwarting law enforcement attempts to gain access to cell phone and personal data.  The judges are denying requests for search warrants for such information as overly broad and in direct conflict with the basic rights afforded all United States citizens under the Constitution.

As reported in the Washington Post, in recent months, Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has  denied access to the Facebook page of alleged Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and the iPhone of the Georgetown University Student accused of making the deadly poison ricin in his dorm room.  Magistrate Judge Facciola labeled law enforcement requests for search warrants “repugnant” to the U.S. Constitution.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Driving While High -- The Effect of Marijuana vs. Alcohol When Getting Behind the Wheel

recent New York Times article took an in-depth look at the effects of marijuana on an individual’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.  Specifically, the article cited a number of studies, including this one from 2012, that analyze the effect of marijuana versus alcohol on drivers.

The article examined the effects of marijuana on a driver’s ability to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), which are designed to detect impairment caused by alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.  Validation studies have revealed that the SFSTs can accurately predict intoxication from alcohol anywhere between 70-90% of the time, depending on testing conditions.  However, according to studies, the SFSTs only correctly identify individuals under the influence of marijuana 30% of the time.


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DC Takes Another Step Toward Marijuana Possession Decriminalization

As reported by the Washington Post and numerous other media outlets, the D.C. City Council voted 11-1 to decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.  In lieu of the current criminal penalties of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for possessing small amounts of marijuana, possession would be a civil infraction carrying a fine-only punishment, similar to a speeding or parking ticket.

If the legislation is enacted, D.C. would follow the lead of 15 other U.S. states that have already decriminalized possession of marijuana.  Although possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Department of Justice has not taken any action to enforce federal law in those states that have decriminalized possession through state legislation.


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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Will Police Misconduct in DC Finally Be Addressed?

As reported in the Washington Post, on January 24, the D.C. City Council will hold an oversight hearing to address issues related to police misconduct in the District.  Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the D.C. Council’s public safety committee said he wants Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) Chief Cathy L. Lanier to answer questions about whether police officers who are engaged in unsavory behavior are being identified. 

Wells, who is running for mayor, stated “[i]t is very important to me that residents have confidence in our police officers to be upstanding citizens who are on the side of angels and not people who commit crimes.” 


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Monday, December 30, 2013

What is Diversion? -- Part Two

This blog post is the second of a two part series discussing the various forms of "diversion" offered for most DC misdemeanor crimes.  

When an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Washington, DC, in most cases a plea offer is made by the prosecutor.  For a majority of misdemeanor offenses and occasionally in felony matters, the plea offer made by the government will be an offer of what is known as “diversion.”

Diversion is a method by which an individual can resolve his or her case short of conviction.  There are many different types of diversion, including, DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  Each type of diversion comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreements were discussed previously in Part One.  Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court are discussed in detail below.


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Friday, December 27, 2013

What is Diversion? -- Part One

This blog post is the first of a two part series discussing the various forms of "diversion" offered for most DC misdemeanor crimes.  

When an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Washington, DC, in most cases a plea offer is made by the prosecutor.  For a majority of misdemeanor offenses and occasionally in felony matters, the plea offer made by the government will be an offer of what is known as “diversion.”

Diversion is a method by which an individual can resolve his or her case short of conviction.  There are many different types of diversion, including, DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  Each type of diversion comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. DC Traffic Diversion, STET Agreements and Deferred Prosecution Agreements will be discussed in detail in this blog post.  Deferred Sentencing Agreements, Drug Court and Mental Health Court will be discussed in Part Two.


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Friday, December 6, 2013

What Happens After I am Arrested in DC?

The answer to this question greatly depends on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest.  At the outset, if you are arrested for a criminal offense in Washington, DC, that means that the law enforcement agency arresting you believes there is “probable cause” to place you under arrest.  Whether or not probable cause exists depends on whether in the particular circumstances, a police officer who is conditioned by their observations and information, and guided by their experience, reasonably could believe that a crime has been committed by the person who is arrested.

Once an officer has probable cause for an arrest, the officer can then formally arrest you and take you into custody.  This means that you are now subject to the control of the police, are no longer free to leave and you would most likely be constrained by handcuffs or by some other means. 


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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DC Murders Remain Unsolved

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, despite a continued improvement in the overall murder rate in Washington, DC, homicides continue to go unsolved at an alarming rate.  The total number of homicides has dropped from a peak of 482 in 1991, to just 108 in 2012, a 78% decline over two decades.  DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier credits the overall improvement in police practices for the drastic decrease.  Specifically, she notes building better community ties, developing sources of information, using modern technology, enforcing information-sharing within law enforcement, focusing on violent repeat offenders and efforts to put more patrol officers on the streets to address crime hot spots.


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