a suppression decision by the juvenile court, the prosecutor
decided there was insufficient admissible evidence to proceed
with the prosecution of 16-year-old Rafaelito Agustin. She
notified the defense and forwarded to the court an ex parte
motion to dismiss the charges. But on the date set for the
factfinding hearing, the court announced that it viewed the
admissible evidence as sufficient to proceed to trial,
directed the State to call its witnesses, and at the
conclusion of the evidence found Mr. Agustin guilty of one of
a question of first impression in Washington, we hold that
the judicial branch's discretion to deny a government
motion to dismiss criminal charges exists as a check on abuse
of prosecutorial discretion, not to usurp or interfere with
the good faith exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Nothing
suggests that the State's decision to dismiss charges
against Mr. Agustin was anything other than a good faith
exercise of its charging authority. We reverse the
disposition order and remand with directions to dismiss the
charges against Mr. Agustin.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
morning in June 2016, Othello police officers responded to a
report of juveniles smoking marijuana in an alley and
encountered 16-year-old Rafaelito Agustin and several others.
An officer saw Mr. Agustin drop a soda can to the ground; the
can appeared to have been fashioned into a smoking device and
smelled of marijuana. The officer also noticed ashes near Mr.
Agustin's feet. During a search of Mr. Agustin, officers
found a dried green leafy substance in his front left shirt
pocket that looked and smelled like marijuana. A can of malt
liquor was found in the trash nearby.
arresting officer observed that Mr. Agustin's eyes were
watery, bloodshot, and glassed over, and that he smelled of
alcohol. A portable breath test administered to Mr. Agustin
returned a blood alcohol level of .065. After being arrested,
Mr. Agustin admitted to drinking malt liquor and smoking
marijuana that morning. He was charged with minor in
possession and/or consumption of alcohol and unlawful
(underage) possession of marijuana.
Agustin successfully moved to suppress much of the
State's evidence against him. Following a CrR 3.5
hearing, the trial court suppressed evidence of the marijuana
found in his shirt pocket, the results of the breathalyzer
test, and Mr. Agustin's incriminating statements. It
found that the soda can smoking device and malt liquor can
had been abandoned, however, and ruled them admissible.
morning set for the fact-finding hearing, lawyers for the
parties did not expect the case to go forward because the
State had decided, and reported to the defense, that it
viewed the remaining evidence as insufficient to convict and
would dismiss the charges. It had forwarded an ex parte
motion to dismiss to the court.
juvenile court opened proceedings by asking to see the
findings and conclusions prepared following the suppression
hearing, and this exchange followed:
[PROSECUTOR] . . .: I presented [the findings and
conclusions] to defense counsel. But based on my prior motion
to dismiss that I submitted, defense counsel was under the
impression that we were dismissing (inaudible) that I filed
the motion. It's-it's the state's belief that
there's insufficient evidence (inaudible) hearing to
proceed with his respondent on this matter.
THE COURT: For the record I did receive ex parte a motion by
the state to dismiss this case, which I did not sign.
The reason I did not sign is that I did not suppress the-the
soda can which was fashioned into a smoking device with the
burnt residue which smelled like marijuana. I figured there
is enough information still in this case to prosecute the
I'm looking for the suppression findings and I'm