Manda had the pleasure of being a defense attorney for Teen Peer Court last night.
Her case was a tough one that centered around a 16 year old Hispanic male who had been charged with battery for pushing his mother and punching is father. While Manda's client speaks English, his comprehension and use of it is limited. Neither the father or mother speak English; the primary language spoken in the home is Spanish and of course, Manda is only learning Spanish in high school. Luckily the client's 18 year old sister speaks fluent Spanish and has a decent command of the English language so she was able to assist with translations during the deposition portion of this case.
Manda's 16 year old client was charged with battery of his parents which occurred when the mother refused to allow her son to take the family car. The client pushed his mother and stormed past her into the family apartment where a verbal argument ensued. The father who was outside at the time of the argument came inside to resolve the issue, and unfortunately, was unable to do anything but make matters worse.
The 16 year old client ended up punching his father several times, and when ordered to leave the apartment and never come back, he picked up an orange from a nearby counter and threw it at the back of the father's head. Further argument ensued, and random items of clothing and boxes were also thrown at the father by the son, and at the son by the father.
When the 16 year old refused to leave, a member of the family called 911 for assistance. The 16 year old left the premises before the law enforcement agency arrived on scene. Neither parent required medical assistance, but they did elect to press the charge of battery against their son.
It was noted that earlier in the day both the father and the son had been drinking beer outside.
The father had drank 4 beers, the son 2. The 16 year old client who had left the family home was gone for nearly 48 hours before returning.
Since this time there have been no further incidents, and the family is trying to move forward and get past this trouble. (talking to Amanda it seems there are other issues and "things" which the family needs assistance with, and this incident is actually fairly minor in the grand scheme of their every day life.)
The prosecuting attorney asked for the following penalty to be assigned to the 16 year old:
8 times served on the jury
40 hours of community service
the prosecuting attorney felt that the 16 year old needed severe punishment to learn his lesson and change his behaviour.
Amanda asked for the following penalty and assistance to be assigned to the 16 year old:
2 times served on the jury
20 hours of community service
Anger Management Counselling
6 months of AA meetings
As the defense attorney and being privileged to know more of their inside story, Manda felt the family could better benefit from a direct assistance approach, and that counselling and AA meetings would be more beneficial to the future of this family.
The jury found the following penalty to be appropriate:
2 times served on the jury (one for each parent he had physical contact with)
20 hours of community service (10 hours for each parent he struck)
6 months AA meetings
When questioned by the Judge on their determination of the penalty and why they chose the exact penalty as requested by the defense, the jury replied:
"People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are not made by one person. Sometimes the family is the reason. This family seems to need help, and if the defendant is punished too firmly, he made decide to rebel and get into more trouble."
Additionally, the director of the Teen Peer Court program instructed that the 16 year old client (who incidentally turned 17 today) do the following:
get a job
get a driver's license (or stop driving)
take a parenting class (he has an 18 month old daughter)
Amanda and her mentor attorney felt like their client received what was needed to hopefully re-direct him onto a better path of choices.
Unfortunately, only time will tell.