Legal news and analysis from the largest criminal defense firm in Southwest Washington, Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.

McCausland successfully defends father against assault charge

Attorney Hannah McCausland won an assault trial Oct. 20 in Clark County District Court, successfully arguing to the jury that her client exercised “reasonable parental discipline,” in slapping his son on the face. Her client said he panicked when his 2½-year-old son ran across a parking lot toward a busy intersection.

Under state law, physical discipline of a child “is not unlawful when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent, teacher or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.” The law also says that the “age, size and condition of the child and the location of the injury shall be considered when determining whether the bodily harm is reasonable or moderate.”

McCausland’s client was arrested after witnesses, a mother and her 12-year-old daughter, reported him to police. The witnesses were at a laundromat and saw McCausland’s client outside with his son. The daughter said she saw the dad snatch the boy off the ground and put him in his car seat, but didn’t see what happened before he picked up his son. The daughter got her mother’s attention, and when the mother turned around she saw the dad, who had his back to her, making a motion with his arm as though he was slapping his son.

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Anderson wins acquittal in felony domestic violence case

Attorney Neil Anderson won an acquittal this week in Clark County Superior Court, sparing his client from a mandatory prison sentence that would have been handed down had he been convicted of unlawful imprisonment, a felony.

While the 12-person jury found Anderson’s client not guilty of the felony charge, it was unable to reach an verdict on a charge of misdemeanor assault. 

A deputy prosecutor told Superior Court Judge Bernard Veljacic after the verdicts was read and the jurors had left the courtroom that she’ll likely be asking for a new trial on the assault charge.

Ten of the 12 jurors stayed behind to speak to Anderson and the deputy prosecutor. They said the vote on the assault charge was 11 to 1 in favor of “not guilty.”

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Concerns expressed about federal immigration agents at local courthouses

A front-page article in the Sept. 19 edition of The Columbian, “ICE agents create a chill at courthouse,” was part of a three-day series about the uncertainty facing undocumented immigrants since President Donald Trump took office in January. 

The article said courthouse arrests by immigration enforcement officers “have elicited harsh criticism from attorneys and judges who argue that the practice interferes with the criminal justice system.”

The article included an example of a defendant in a felony domestic violence case who was picked up by ICE agents at the Clark County Courthouse.  We’ve had clients, who have no prior criminal history and who are charged with misdemeanors, been picked up by ICE agents at the courthouse this year.

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Prosecutor dismisses case day of trial, makes defendant pay jury costs

Well, this sucked.

A Vancouver assistant city attorney dismissed a charge of fourth-degree assault domestic violence Friday, the day of trial, after realizing what he should have known had he been properly prepared (that his victim was lying). Because our client was ready to assert his constitutional right to a jury trial, however, he got stuck with the $350 jury tab.

The alleged victim had been saying she was so drunk the night of the incident that she blacked out and doesn’t remember what happened. She spoke with the assistant city attorney and attorney Jeff Barrar this morning, prior to trial, and reiterated that she doesn’t recall much of what happened. She did remember biting our client on the face.

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Can't spell Whitney without "W"

Attorney Whitney Hawke won not-guilty verdicts this week for a client charged with two counts of violating a domestic violence no-contact order.

Hawke’s client and the alleged victim in the case share custody of a child.  Hawke’s client lives near where her child’s father works, and in April she was pulled over by a Vancouver police officer because her vehicle had one headlight burnt out. The officer ran checks on people in the vehicle and discovered there was a no-contact order prohibiting the driver from being with the passenger. He arrested Hawke’s client for violating the order.

Two months later, a different Vancouver police officer stopped Hawke’s client, this time for failing to wear her seat belt. Again, her child’s father was in the car, and again she was arrested for violating the order. The child’s father had asked a judge to lift the order after the first arrest, but his request was denied.

At the Sept. 13 trial in Clark County District Court, a deputy prosecutor from the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center called the two VPD officers to testify. She did not call the alleged victim to the witness stand.

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Father acquitted of assaulting adult son

Attorney Jeff Barrar won a not-guilty verdict on Sept. 8 for a father accused of assaulting his adult son.

The father was charged with fourth-degree assault domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a year in jail. On June 9, the man’s wife called 911 and reported that her husband was drunk and belligerent and saying mean things to the family so she wanted him to go to the “drunk tank” for the night.

Asked specifically by the emergency dispatcher whether her husband had assaulted anyone, she said no. She later mentioned that her son punched her husband in the face, and once the dispatcher started questioning her about that, she said her son had to throw the punch because his dad “chest-bumped” him.

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Homeless client gets criminal charges dismissed, gains housing

Criminal charges were dismissed Friday against a woman in her early 70s with a host of medical issues after the alleged victim in the case -- the woman’s daughter --  failed to appear for trial in Clark County District Court.

An assistant city attorney from the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center should have known the victim, who has a criminal history, wasn’t going to appear for trial, but he refused to dismiss the case. While awaiting her Sept. 8 trial our hearing-impaired and mobility-impaired client was housed in the medical unit of the Clark County Jail for 54 days.

At the cost of $83.02 a day, her stay cost taxpayers approximately $4,500.

The woman was charged with malicious mischief in the third-degree domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor. She was released the day following her June 1 arrest, then picked up in July on a warrant and held without bail for missing a court hearing and failing to submit urine samples or take monitored doses of Antabuse.

On June 1, she was described to a 911 dispatcher as “a little old lady” who was “banging on the door of the residence with a shovel.”

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Lawhon wins acquittal in negligent driving case

Attorney Andrew Lawhon won a trial in Clark County District Court this week for a client charged with negligent driving in the first degree.

In November, his client was driving on Northeast 117th Street in Salmon Creek in the middle of the night when she lost control of her vehicle on a curve and hit a fence. She knocked on the door and spoke to the homeowner, who has lived at the residence for 50 years.

The homeowner testified at the Aug. 31 trial that there have been many such accidents in that same spot, and when she heard the noise she knew immediately what had happened and got up and called 911.

A responding deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office noted that the driver “had a mild odor” of intoxicants, but the homeowner testified she didn’t smell any alcohol on the driver and the driver didn’t appear to be impaired.

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Kauffman slaps down charge of violation of a no-contact order

A jury deliberated about 45 minutes Wednesday before handing attorney Katie Kauffman another victory in Clark County District Court.

Her client in the Aug. 30 trial was charged with violation of a no-contact order, which can be a difficult charge to defend because it boils down to two questions: Was there a valid court order? Was the person found with the protected party?

In this case, however, the client’s ex-girlfriend testified that she and her ex-boyfriend both thought the order had been lifted and that was enough for the jury to acquit Kauffman's client. 

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Felony trial abruptly ends with dismissal

Attorney Hannah McCausland won a dismissal this week for a client charged with prescription forgery after a pharmacist testified her client was not the person who came in and gave her a fake prescription, bringing the trial to an abrupt end.

The client had been charged with forged prescription for a controlled substance, a class C felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Trial was Aug. 28 in Clark County Superior Court.

McCausland asked for an “offer of proof,” which is done outside the presence of the jury, to make sure the pharmacist had the right person. The pharmacist said yes, that she had selected her client’s photograph from among the six mug shots shown to her by a detective with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Upon seeing McCausland’s client in court, however, she could say definitively that he was not the person who came into the pharmacy.

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