Last year, an elementary student took a loaded gun to school. Unfortunately, the boy dropped the bag in which the firearm had been placed, and it accidentally discharged. Another child was hurt seriously in the incident. Washington police initially filed criminal charges against the adult from whom the boy took the weapon.
The man was charged with both unlawful possession and a third-degree assault in light of the child’s injuries. Police sought to hold him responsible for the student’s actions. The state prosecutor claimed that state laws would view the gun owner as negligent in the accident.
However, the case was taken up to the Supreme Court for the state of Washington. The judges voted 6-3 against holding the adult culpable for the shooting. The court cited the fact that there was no precedent for holding a third party accountable for harm when that individual was not directly involved. The court ruled that the pending assault charge against the man could not be sustained and dismissed the charge. However, the state prosecutor could still file a misdemeanor charge against him.
Just because an individual has been charged with a crime doesn’t mean he or she is guilty of a crime. In this instance, the Washington Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the assault charge filed by prosecutors was not applicable to the defendant, leading to dismissal of the charge. Each criminal defense typically involves an analysis of the underlying facts as well as of the charges themselves. In this instance, the review suggested that the charge against the man was legally insufficient. The state has reported that it may still seek criminal charges as a misdemeanor offense against him.
Source: kirotv.com, “No one charged after 3rd grader shot in classroom”, Kevin McCarty, July 17, 2014