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Assault with a garden hose? Jury says no

Attorneys Marjia Boise and Nicholas Saraceno recently won a not-guilty verdict for a client accused of domestic violence assault for pushing his girlfriend away and spraying her with a garden hose.

The client was charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, following a May 3 argument that started after his girlfriend returned home with their two young children from Frenchman’s Bar. Our client saw an empty White Claw can in her car and knew she’d been drinking and driving. Upset, he told her to leave their home and let the children stay with him.

They argued inside the home, where she tried to take the children. Our client pushed her away while he was holding their 4-year-old daughter. She left the house with their son, 2.

When they were outside, he told her to leave by herself and sprayed her with a garden hose.

The alleged victim filmed our client with her phone, both when they were fighting over the children and when he sprayed her, from a distance, with the hose.

The videos were played during trial, which was June 30 in Clark County District Court.

Jurors also heard that it was our client who called 911, and reported that his girlfriend was driving drunk with their son. He told the dispatcher she was headed to her mother’s house, which was nearby.

A Vancouver police officer who responded to the girlfriend’s mother’s house testified he saw the car the girlfriend was reported to have been driving parked in front. He also saw a woman matching the description of the girlfriend. She was holding a child and darted in the backyard, in what the officer believed was an attempt to avoid him. He said he felt the car and it was still warm, but when he spoke to the girlfriend she denied driving. He said he could smell an odor of intoxicants on her but she wasn’t slurring her words or showing other signs of intoxication. He said he didn’t initiate a DUI investigation because he focused on her allegations of domestic violence.

When Boise cross-examined the alleged victim, she questioned her timeline of events. Two hours had passed between when she filmed herself getting sprayed and when she spoke to the officer. The officer testified the woman's shirt was "soaked." 

During closing argument, Boise implied the alleged victim got her shirt wet with water from the hot tub in her mother’s backyard and then told police she had gotten soaked by the client. Boise also told jurors the videos from inside the house showed only that her client pushed the alleged victim away when she was trying to grab their daughter from him.

He used minimal force to protect his daughter, which he’s allowed to do, she said.

Jurors deliberated approximately 1 ½ hours before unanimously voting not guilty.

Had the client been convicted, he could have faced up to one year in jail.

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, domestic violence, Clark County, District Court

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