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Kauffman saves client from felony sex conviction

Katie Kauffman didn’t try and excuse her client’s behavior, which she acknowledged to a Clark County Superior Court jury was incredibly gross.

But his actions – masturbating and getting ejaculate on a woman who was next to him – constituted a misdemeanor, she argued, not a felony.

The 12-member jury unanimously agreed. After deliberating about two hours on April 24, the jury returned a verdict of not-guilty of attempted indecent liberties and guilty of fourth-degree assault.

Her client was also convicted of felony bail jump, which wasn’t a surprise because he missed a mandatory pre-trial court appearance and didn't have a reason for why he missed it. 

The fact the jury was even allowed to consider a lesser charge was a win for Kauffman. When she and a deputy prosecuting attorney were arguing about which instructions would be read to the jury before deliberations, she asked Judge Derek Vanderwood to include the lesser offense. The deputy prosecutor objected, but Kauffman convinced Vanderwood the elements of the crime met legal and factual requirements to be considered misdemeanor assault.

By winning an acquittal on the felony sex charge, Kauffman spared her client from prison and the requirement of registering as a sex offender for 15 years. Her client would have received a minimum 15 months in prison. Under state sentencing guidelines it would have been an indeterminate sentence, meaning he could be in custody longer, up to life, unless his release was approved by the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board.  And he would never be able to clear the conviction from his record.

Her client, who has no prior criminal history, will be able to get both the misdemeanor assault and felony bail jump off his record in five years provided he pays his fines and stays out of trouble.  

On April 26 Kauffman’s client was sentenced to spend a total of 160 days in the Clark County Jail. Judge Vanderwood gave him 100 days for the misdemeanor assault, and 60 days for the bail jump.

During the trial, the victim testified that she’d been drinking at the defendant’s apartment and fell asleep. She woke up in the middle of the night and, after she’d used the bathroom, returned to the couch and tried to go back to sleep. She claimed that the defendant first put his finger in her mouth and kissed her, an act that the defendant told police that he didn’t remember. She said she rolled over and pretended to be asleep, but that she could tell when he started masturbating.

The defendant admitted to officers that he masturbated while sitting next to the woman. He said he hadn’t realized some of his ejaculate got in the woman’s hair and on her sweatshirt.

The client’s fiancée testified at trial that the victim was initially joking and laughing about the incident. When the victim testified Kauffman questioned her about why she waited two days to report the incident to police. The woman said she wanted to first talk to the defendant’s fiancée about the incident.

Tags: criminal law, Clark County

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