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  1. #1
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Washington State

    TL;DR - Son was charged and held in Juvenile Detention for 6 days, then house arrest for 6 months for 2nd Degree Assault. He was jumped by 6 guys that were "bouncers" at a high school party and my son ended up stabbing 1 bouncer, 1 time, then ran. They all, or most, lied and said he just randomly stabbed the kid and ran. The case is now dismissed but this doesn't seem right/just. What are our options?

    Reasons for dismissal : Evidence clearly points (based on witness statements from a few of the bouncers as well as unbiased witnesses) to self defense. Our son was jumped, on the ground being stomped on in the face, groin, etc. by 5-6 guys. He only stabbed one, one time and ran as soon as he could.

    Main points of frustration: Had the kids been honest from the start our son would not have been on house arrest for 6 months. Also, the prosecutor had the names of the witnesses from the start or at least within a month of the incident and yet the KEY interviews that matched up with my sons story didn't even take place until a week before trial, after multiple "extensions". This whole thing has cost us ~40-50k in lawyer fees. What's really bad is since it's dismissed we don't get Self Defense verdict, which means WA State won't reimburse our legal fees.

    Primary questions: Do we have a potential case for a civil suit and is that going to cost us more money or will someone do it for a portion of the winnings? The key factor here is most if not all the kids who assaulted my son are 18, so they have nothing. Second question - can we now press charges against the kids who assaulted him? We have the witness interviews recorded clearly stating who was beating him, as well as showing that 2-3 of the "bouncers" were outright lying...so bad some claimed there was never a fight (we have hospital photos of our sons face and body bloody and bruised). Can we hold the state accountable at all for taking their time to do their due diligence and not interviewing these witnesses sooner? There was also a comment from the prosecutor in the pre trial mentioning how bad the detective work was on this case. Any other options we may not be considering?

    Thank you all for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    No. All it takes is probable cause and the fact they knew your son had stabbed someone is sufficient. You're lucky that it didn't take until trial to bring out the self-defense assertion. There's also no obligation of "due dilligence" here. It is not the police and prosecutors that try the case.

    I'm sure it was traumatic for him and the police might have handled it better, and you're free to talk to an attorney about this, but it's doubtful you're going to get any relief that way.

    You are free to file a complaint with the department about anything you think the police did was improper. Perhaps it will improve things for others in the future.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    You pay for your own civil suit

    unless there is the realistic chance of large payout from a civil suit you won’t find an attorney to take this on a contingency basis. Statements to the police generally enjoy what is called absolute privilege. That means the statements cannot be the basis for a suit against them. You can speak with an attorney who can review the specific issues you have in mind and whether there may be any action available but from what you’ve described here, I would suspect you have no action available. Irrespective of that, as you have alluded to; 18 year old kids typically aren’t flush with cash and a victory in court is not really a victory if you can’t collect on the resulting judgment.

    Did your son call the police himself when he got somewhere safe and report that he was assaulted and defended himself? If he didn’t, well, there is an old,saying that the victors write the history books. A similar thing happens when there are multiple parties and the one claiming innocence doesn’t report the initial crime. Those that do report the crime get first crack at swaying the responders to believe their side. As you have experienced, it doesn’t change the ultimate outcome (well, not always) but it can make the innocent persons path much more difficult.


    Individuals do not press charges; the state does. It is up to the state to prosecute or not. You can speak with the prosecutor about the possibility but ultimately it is at the prosecutors discretion.


    You have no action against the state. What they have done is not actionable as they have no mandated timeframe in which to elicit discovery from possible witnesses.


    Unless your son carried his knife “open” (not concealed), it would appear he did commit a crime. You also don’t give much info regarding the initiation of the interaction between your son and the bouncers. There is quite possibly a basis for reviewing your sons actions for a possibility of improper or even illegal actions during that phase of the situation . Even with a claim of self defense, it doesn’t mean your son was innocent in the ordeal. What your son experienced is not unusual when charges are filed against a person.

    I would be a bit more angered by your high priced attorney who also had the same info the state did (if not more) and didn’t interview those same witnesses and use that to push the prosecutor to drop the charges. While you are concerned about the state not being speedier in their actions, the guy you were paying thousands of dollars a month didn’t appear to so much to defend your son and push the system to respond to strong evidence your son should not be tried for his actions. It appears it was only through discovery by the prosecution that the truth came to light (and it appears they acted promptly in dismissing the charges when they were aware of the testimony). What was the lawyer doing to earn his $40k?


    The only other options I can suggest is your son needs to be more cautious in who he chooses to associate with and stay away from private parties where the host feels the need to have bouncers.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2014
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    Why did your son take a weapon to the party? You seem to think stabbing one person, one time is alright. Next time your son and/or others might not be as lucky. Guns could be involved next time. The knife could hit a vital organ and someone could die.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    I'm wondering why "6 guys that were "bouncers"" "jumped" him in the first place? What happened that led to that form of intervention?

    I agree that there appears to be no action that can be taken against the state at this point. An incomplete - even an incompetent - investigation is not generally actionable. It seems that the DA's office filled in the holes and then dropped the charges when it either became clear that this was a case of self defense, or, the facts were sufficiently muddied that the state felt a jury might not convict the person who did the stabbing. A DA's decision not to pursue a case is not necessarily a proclamation of innocence, sometimes it is merely acquiescence to the reality of facts on the ground.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  6. #6
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    Jun 2014
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    Who gave it to him does not matter. How you say he normally uses it. does not matter. He used it as a weapon. There was no reason for him to take that knife to a,party. Next time the other person could have a gun. Your son could stab someone in the wrong place and cause their death. Your son needs to stay away from the ones at that party. He needs to make new friends. Hopefully ones that don't require bouncers at their parties. How old is your son ?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2019
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    Quote Quoting Mercy&Grace
    View Post
    Who gave it to him does not matter. How you say he normally uses it. does not matter. He used it as a weapon. There was no reason for him to take that knife to a,party. Next time the other person could have a gun. Your son could stab someone in the wrong place and cause their death. Your son needs to stay away from the ones at that party. He needs to make new friends. Hopefully ones that don't require bouncers at their parties. How old is your son ?
    Millions of people carry pocket knives every day as part of their every day wardrobe. Are you telling me if you were being jumped by 6 people, stomping on your face and your groin area and everything else you would just let it happen? You wouldn't fear for your life and grab anything and everything to defend yourself? I am just baffled by your response or line of questioning as if defending ones self is in the wrong. The second someone is stomping on your head they have no regard for your well being and, in my opinion, you should fear for your life. Please help me understand the thought process because I'm starting to feel like a minority in this lol. I get the impression a lot of people feel the way you do and I just don't understand it. Again, he didn't "take a weapon to a party". He put his pocket knife in his pocket like he does every day because it's just like a wallet. And literally dozens of people we know and live with (all law abiding citizens w/ no criminal history) do the same thing.

    He just turned 18.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    Nobody says that you don't have a right to defend yourself. You were told already that asserting self-defense is something you frequently need to do at trial. An arrest and charging only requires probable cause, and it doesn't seem to be any question that your son stabbed someone. That he had a defense doesn't negate that. You use lethal force on someone, regardless of the reason, you're going to be in for a bit of grief.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Minor Wrongfully Charged with Second Degree Assault and Dismissed

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    Nobody says that you don't have a right to defend yourself. You were told already that asserting self-defense is something you frequently need to do at trial. An arrest and charging only requires probable cause, and it doesn't seem to be any question that your son stabbed someone. That he had a defense doesn't negate that. You use lethal force on someone, regardless of the reason, you're going to be in for a bit of grief.
    Ah gotcha. Agreed.

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