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Law School Case Brief

Jackson v. United States - 940 A.2d 981 (D.C. 2008)


Case law decisions repeatedly emphasize the high threshold of injury required to prove aggravated assault and have found the evidence of serious bodily injury legally sufficient only in cases involving grievous stab wounds, severe burnings, or broken bones, lacerations and actual or threatened loss of consciousness. The injuries in those cases usually were life-threatening or disabling. The victims typically require urgent and continuing medical treatment and, often, surgery, carry visible and long-lasting, if not permanent, scars, and suffer other consequential damage, such as significant impairment of their faculties.


Defendant was convicted of aggravated assault while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon for beating his estranged wife with a hammer. The trial court imposed consecutive prison sentences for the two convictions, including a life term for aggravated assault while armed and denied defendant's motion to set aside the judgment. Defendant challenged his convictions.


Was the evidence of serious bodily injury presented at trial insufficient as a matter of law to support defendant’s conviction of aggravated assault while armed?




The court held that, as a matter of law, the victim's injuries did not meet the threshold required to establish a serious bodily injury. The court found that the victim’s lacerations on various parts of her body, namely her ear and shins, were not prominent and were even less likely to be obviously disfiguring than case law standards. Further, there was no evidence in the record of the actual appearance of any scarring on the victim, which required the conclusion that none of the cuts suffered by her, either alone or in combination, was sufficiently significant and prominent to constitute protracted and obvious disfigurement.

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