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Self Defense within rental property

Puyallup, WA |

I drove off three assailants who attacked my wife, daughter and me in our apartment because we had called the police on their drunk and disorderly behavior, but because I ran out of the apartment after them armed with knives for protection, my public defender says that I'm "skating on thin ice" by claiming self-defense because I left the apartment. However, at the apartment where we lived at the time, we had clearly marked assigned parking spaces, and we had already had one car stolen and destroyed beyond our financial means to have it repaired. So I had more than reasonable concern that after assaulting us and vandalizing our apartment with a fire extinguisher that these drunks might damage our remaining car; when I was subdued by police, I was less than ten feet from our car and about 15 feet from the window of our apartment, through which the drunks could conceivably have thrown the fire extinguisher.

Plus, I never got anywhere near them, but they just barely missed hitting my head when they threw the now empty extinguisher at me, and they had already blasted my wife and me point blank with the noxious chemicals from the extinguisher. Yet I am facing six years in prison, and my travel is restricted to certain counties in Western, WA, while one of them got to go to China for a two-month vacation, further delaying a trial on this almost two-year-old case.

When I objected to this further delay in my trial, the judge essentially told me to shut up, further abrogating my right to a speedy trial, a well as to equal protection under the law (the police still won't let us file charges against the drunks, even though they did indeed hurt us, committed criminal trespass, disturbed the peace, nearly killed me with the fire extinguisher and much more).

My PD keeps rolling over and playing dead for the prosecutor, such as letting him tack on additional charges after I refused a plea bargain that would have branded me forever as a felon, as well keep from visiting my in-laws in Italy; they consider me their third son . What can I do to get help from real lawyers pro bono?

By the way, I have no prior police record, not even a parking ticket. I don't get drunk. I don't beat my wife and child. Etcetera, etcetera. Yet criminals get off scott-free because they can afford lawyers with all the drug money they make. What kind of justice system do we have when only wealthy criminals can afford competent lawyers? Where's the justice?

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Attorney answers 1


As for getting a pro bono attorney to handle your case, it may be difficult. However, putting your request on Avvo is a good start. You could try contacting private attorney's in your county. You will probably have better luck getting a local attorney taking the case pro bono because the expense of travel may prohibit out of town attorneys from volunteering their time.

You can also fire your public defender and ask for another court appointed attorney. This too is a difficult road. Judges usually look suspiciously at people who fire there public defenders as trouble makers unfortunately.

If you don't have confidence in your public defender you could write a compelling letter to his boss asking that someone else be assigned to the case. The fact that you don't have a criminal past is certainly helpful.

If and when this goes to trial it is important that the jury understands the threat you and your family felt from these hooligans. Perhaps your wife should testify.

On the other hand, even though you had a car stolen or vandalized did you have any reason to believe the men to be the culprits? How long ago did this prior even occur? Is there any reason to tie them to it?

Did you fear they would come into your apartment? If so why? Did you call the police before you took matters into your own hands? If not why?

Best of luck,

John Campanella

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