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A defense win by default

Clients often ask, “What happens if the victim doesn’t show up for trial?”

Typically, a prosecutor would ask a judge, before jury selection, to set a new trial date. If a client’s constitutional right to a speedy trial was about to be violated, the prosecutor could ask for the case to be dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning the charges could be re-filed and everything would start over.

But those scenarios assume the prosecutor understands the rules.

On July 15th, attorney Katie Kauffman had a domestic violence assault case dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning prosecutors can’t refile charges. Kauffman went to Clark County District Court that day prepared to argue a very strong case.  Her client has no criminal history and was charged with assaulting her husband upon learning that he had been unfaithful. Her client said her husband pinned her down and she only struck him in self-defense. Kauffman was confident a jury would find that there was reasonable doubt that her client was the primary aggressor, and that her client had every right to defend herself and should be found not guilty.

The husband was scheduled to testify. But as the clock ticked on and he didn’t appear, Kauffman suspected he might not show up. An assistant city attorney went ahead with jury selection and Kauffman did everything possible to hurry that process along. After the jury was impaneled, with no victim in sight, the assistant city attorney asked the judge to reschedule the trial.

Since the jury was seated, it was too late. Kauffman asked for the case to be dismissed with prejudice, and the judge agreed that was the proper thing to do.

The case was dismissed, the jury was sent home and the assistant city attorney no doubt learned a lesson. 

To read more about Kauffman, visit her website, www.wacriminaldefenselaw.com

Tags: criminal law, assault, domestic violence

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders