I served an ex-in-law family member with legal papers and now I am being charged with Assault 4 in Washington. No prior record!

Asked about 3 years ago - Stevenson, WA

The legal papers had to do with a custody issue in OR and I served her at the courthouse in Stevenson in front of witnesses and an attorney. She tried to refuse the service of papers and when I tried to put them on something she was holding, I was arrested and charged with Assault 4 when I went to leave the courthouse. One of her family members is a civil deputy with the Sheriff's Dept and works at the courthouse. She is retaliating against me because I have testified several times against her and provided evidence that her accusations are false, her drug use, etc. Help! I've never been charged with a crime before as I am just a normal, quiet stay at home mom.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. James J White


    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . All the witnesses will be to your advantage assuming you hire an attorney quickly enough to figure out who they were. Hopefully, you know the attorney witness that you mention or got the name. Frankly, you have no duty to track down the witnesses. The prosecutor has the burden of proof and I've successfully argued before that the lack of testimony from the witnesses is 'a doubt for which a reason can be given and can arise from ... the lack of evidence." Your lack of history and your lifestyle will also benefit you in terms of the prosecutor not being particular motivated to spend limited time and resources on your case. Contrary to some other advice, a deferred prosecution, RCW 10.05 which is a treatment (substance or mental health) based dismissal, does not sound appropriate for this case. I think other counsel meant a deferred sentence, i.e., where the Judge defers (puts off) sentencing you and, after the period of deferral, enters a dismissal instead of a sentence. There are other dismissal options. The problem with the deferred sentence is that for the period of deferral, usually one year, the conviction is on your record. Another option is a dispositional continuance that merely continues the matter without a conviction for a period of time. Of course, there is always the option of just going to trial and winning as well.

    At your service,

  2. Bruce Clement


    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . This is why attorneys use professional process servers. Physically pushing the papers on the lady may be assault 4, depending on the circumstances. You should hire an attorney to represent you. Still, your case sounds sympathetic. I predict that you will get a deferred prosecution -- i.e., that your case will be dismissed after a year if there are no other offenses committed.

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  3. Derek Michael Smith

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . I'm sorry for your situation. In your case you need an attorney as soon as possible. You need to review the allegations being made by the victim and her witnesses to your actions and get competent legal counsel at work rebutting them.

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