• Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

  • Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

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Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. has grown to become the largest criminal defense firm in Southwest Washington. The firm has public contracts to represent indigent defendants in felony and misdemeanor cases and also represents privately retained clients.

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New on the Barrar Law blog...

Anderson, Spencer win felony DV trial

Attorneys Neil Anderson and Marina Spencer won an acquittal March 9 in Clark County Superior Court for a client charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

A 12-member jury deliberated an hour before returning a “not guilty” verdict on two charges of domestic violence.

The client was charged with assault in the second degree, a felony, and assault in the fourth degree, a gross misdemeanor. Had he been convicted he would have received a minimum sentence of three months in jail, and a maximum sentence of nine months in jail.

The client, 41, has no criminal history.

On Nov. 27, 2020, he called 911 and told the dispatcher that his girlfriend had hit him during an argument and he needed her to leave the house. The alleged victim called 911 after he called. She told the dispatcher, after a few minutes, her boyfriend grabbed her hand and neck.

Responding officers from the Vancouver Police Department arrested our client after speaking to his girlfriend, who claimed her boyfriend had grabbed her around her neck and tightened his grip during an argument about money. She said she had not been able to breathe for 30 seconds, and had been scared. She was crying when she spoke to officers.

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Anderson wins trial for client accused of sexual abuse

Attorney Neil Anderson won a trial Dec. 9 for a client charged with five sex offenses stemming from recent accusations he abused his half sister years ago.

The trial began Dec. 6 in Clark County Superior Court. Anderson was assisted at trial by attorney Ricky Tucker.

The 12-person jury deliberated about two hours before unanimously agreeing to acquit the client on all charges: one count of rape of a child in the first degree and four counts of child molestation in the first degree.

The charges were based on allegations, made in December 2019, that the client abused his half sister multiple times in 2014.

A conviction would have carried a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Cognata successfully argues against post-conviction GPS monitoring

Attorney Amber Cognata recently convinced a Clark County District Court commissioner to reconsider ordering an indigent client to pay for post-conviction GPS monitoring.

Commissioner Todd George initially granted a Vancouver assistant city attorney’s request for the GPS monitoring during a Jan. 31 sentencing hearing, but said his order would not go into effect until Cognata had a chance to argue it.  Cognata’s client had pled guilty to one count of harassment and one count of violating a civil antiharassment protection order, both gross misdemeanors.

At the time of the plea, her client had served 34 days in jail. The city prosecutor did not ask for additional jail time even though gross misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail.

In her subsequent motion contesting the judge’s decision, Cognata wrote that the GPS monitoring authorized by state lawmakers was meant for pre-trial monitoring and not to be imposed as part of a sentence.

The pre-trial GPS monitoring was part of the Tiffany Hill act. Defendants pay for the monitoring and domestic violence victims are notified if their alleged abusers come within a certain distance.

In Clark County, the service is provided by 2 Watch Monitoring. Defendants pay a $100 setup fee and $20 a day, Cognata wrote. Imposing GPS monitoring for six months would cost her client approximately $3,700 while a year would cost approximately $7,200.

For clients such as hers, who are given court-appointed attorneys because a judge finds they cannot afford to hire one, paying thousands of dollars for post-plea monitoring would often be impossible, Cognata wrote.

“There is no statutory authority to impose GPS monitoring post-plea,” Cognata wrote. “The agreed upon sentence was an offer for credit for time served, which totaled 34 days in jail. GPS monitoring was not a condition imposed in lieu of earned release time or imposed as part of his sentence, but instead an additional condition of his sentence. The protected parties in this case received the benefit of GPS monitoring while (her client) was out of custody and his charge was pending. Now that he has served his sentence, he should not continue to be monitored for the entirety of his two-year probation. Post-plea, the victims in this matter will still be protected through anti-harassment orders and a no-contact order.”

If her client was ordered to pay for monitoring and unable to afford it, he would likely be penalized for violating probation and be sent back to jail. “This kind of outcome was not the intent of the legislature when this bill was created,” Cognata wrote.   

The assistant city attorney argued the court has broad discretion to impose conditions of probation, and that includes conditions meant to prevent the future commission of crimes.

During a Feb. 10 hearing Commissioner George found that the client’s indigency was good reason not to order monitoring and removed it as a condition of probation.  

Kauffman wins sexual assault trial

Attorney Katie Kauffman won a trial in Clark County Superior Court last week for a client whose charges were upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony after he refused a deputy prosecutor’s plea offer.

The client, 43, was arrested in January 2020 by Clark County sheriff’s deputies for assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation, a misdemeanor. His arrest was based on an allegation from a family friend who had been spending the night.

She told deputies that she woke up in the middle of the night when the client was touching her butt. The alleged victim, 22, said the client touched her on the outside of her pajama pants.

Our client denied any inappropriate touching and said he simply put a blanket over the woman.

When he refused to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge in District Court, a deputy prosecutor attorney filed a new charge of indecent liberties in Superior Court.

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