Hi folks. I’m usually not one to tell war stories, but this is probably an appropriate time to do so. Given the amount of violence going on in our country, I feel that everyone should stay safe and be cautious when interacting with others out in public.
This story I am going to tell is about a man who underwent assault charges, and how he was impacted by them. If you take one lesson away from this story, it should be this: in an escalating situation, never look to escalate it any further. Look to get away, or defuse the situation if you can.
20 years ago, I tried a case in front of a jury where a client of mine was African American. He was the smallest male I have ever seen. I mean this guy was tiny. Maybe a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet at five foot one. And he was just really small.
My client was pitching at a T-ball game in Phoenix. Apparently, when you’re a pitcher, you’re also an umpire, and all the parents would participate in the game. It was a T-ball game with a bunch of little kids, like five- and six-year-olds.
Well, for whatever reason, racial slurs were being yelled at him by parents from the other team’s parents. They thought he made a bad call, and they started calling him some things that I won’t repeat. These comments and names were inappropriate, and I could not believe them when I first heard them.
My client was scared because these folks kept telling him they were going to beat him when the game was over. They said they were going to tear him apart. They were going to kill him with their fists. Some of these guys were well over two hundred forty, two hundred and fifty pounds. Given his small stature, they probably could have beaten him pretty easily. My client was scared.
The game was over, yet more of these comments continued. My client, his wife, and his child walked out to his car. My client he back with a gun.
Now, the question has to be: “was that appropriate?”
Was that what a reasonable person would have done in the same circumstances? To walk away from the field out to your car, and come back with a gun? And then, as he was taking his family off the field, his son, his wife, he pointed the gun at these folks and said stay back, stay back.
My client was eventually charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault Dangerous. That label “Dangerous” gives you mandatory prison. And that label comes from him having a gun.
So, I had to argue, in front of the jury, whether that was reasonable for him to do that. And he was able to articulate perfectly in front of the jury how he felt. And based upon his size, he felt intimidated and that scared.
So, the jury agreed with me and my client and he was found not guilty. It’s a very, very short verdict. Deliberation takes anywhere from four minutes to weeks. I mean I’ve had it go both ways. And just because they’re deliberating for a long time versus a short time, it really doesn’t mean anything.
Jury trials are strange. Nothing is certain.
This post is not to scare you or detail how your trial might go. Instead, this the story of one man who was charged with assault, and how he came away from his charges unscathed. To be charged with this type of crime is serious business, and defending against these charges is hard work.
At the end of the day, I don’t care how right you feel you were in these situations, you can always lose in a jury trial. Members of the jury may be the greatest people in the world, but one bad day can lead a juror to make a decision that he or she wouldn’t normally make.
The bottom line: you never know what people can do. And now that things are as crazy as they are, you really have to be careful. But again, he was able to articulate that he was in fear of his life, his son’s life, his wife’s life. And because he was able to articulate it so well, and the jury agreed, those charges he was found not guilty.
And also, too, sometimes this is brought up. You’re not found innocent in the United States. You’re found not guilty. So, in that case, based upon what I saw, it was… he was completely exonerated. But it will always show on his criminal arrest record as a disposition, not guilty. It won’t show innocent.
So, there will always be those people that think we were found not guilty but that doesn’t say you were innocent. That’s another topic for another post.
Make sure you use some common sense, in any situation. Given the divisiveness and division in our county these days, I feel that being aware is becoming rare. I never want what happened to my client to ever happen to you. Be smart, be cautious, and always look to diffuse and escape the situation. Never flame the ongoing issue for the worse.
Note: this is not specific legal advice, but rather general information.
Acquitting Arizonans Since 1987