Defense Attorney Advocates for Domestic Violence Defendant During Sentencing

A defense attorney advocated for her client during his sentencing hearing, speaking to the mental health issues he faced for years leading up to the offense.

Peter Banfield was originally charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly shooting into his brother’s house while he and his family were sleeping. As part of a deal with the prosecution, he pleaded guilty to carrying a pistol without a license and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Defense attorney Khadijah Ali went into detail on how 39-year-old Banfield ended up in the place he is now. He was placed in a civil commitment multiple years ago due to being deemed mentally incompetent in another case, which was dismissed. He then received psychological treatment. During this time, he faced multiple hurdles with his mental health.

“None of this is his fault,” Ali said.

Banfield was having a mental breakdown at the time of the incident but has since been put on a different medication that is better for his health. He has been through multiple evaluations and treatment both before and after this incident took place.

Ali said his family was upset by the fact that he was attending a mental health facility at the time of his arrest. Banfield was placed into the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP) and strayed with his mother, who was also present for the Jan. 10 proceedings. She said she has had no problems with him while he’s been staying with her.

“He’s not really a violent person- it is his mental condition,” she said, explaining that the only reason he committed the actions was that voices in his head told him to. She asked for Banfield to receive a sentence that is on the lower end of what is suggested for the charges.

“This is a very concerning case,” DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun said during the hearing. He said before this, Banfield had been an engineer and received a bachelor’s degree.

Judge Okun agreed with the prosecutor’s recommendation and sentenced Banfield to 180 days for unlawful discharge of a firearm and two years for carrying a pistol without a license. He suspended both sentences in his entirety and set them to run concurrently. Banfield received three years of supervised probation for each charge, which will also run concurrently.

Conditions of Banfield’s probation include receiving a mental health screening and treatment as deemed necessary by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) as well as registering as a gun offender.