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Washington Court Discusses Burden of Proof in Violation of No-Contact Order Case

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2019 | Domestic Violence

In many cases in which a person alleges he or she was the victim of a crime of domestic violence, the court will issue an order barring the defendant from contacting the victim. No-contact orders are strictly enforced and if a person violates a no-contact order it can result in felony charges. Recently, a Washington appellate court discussed the shifting burdens of proof when a defendant is charged with violating a no-contact order. If you are a Washington resident charged with violating a domestic violence no-contact order or any other domestic violence crime it is critical to engage an assertive Washington domestic violence defense attorney who will fight to help you retain your rights.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in October 2015, a court issued a no-contact order that restrained the defendant from contacting his former girlfriend, the mother of his daughter.  Specifically, he was prohibited from knowingly entering or remaining within 500 feet of the girlfriends’ house, school, place of work or car. The order was in affect for five years.  In February 2017, the girlfriend observed the defendant outside of her apartment, in violation of the order, and called the police. The police responded and questioned the defendant, who stated that he was there to give an EBT card to his daughter and nodded in the direction of the girlfriend’s apartment.

It is reported that the police subsequently arrested the defendant, and he was charged with a domestic violence felony violation of a no-contact order. During the trial, the defendant testified that he was not aware that he was violating the order at the time of his arrest. He was convicted of violating the order and sentenced to 72 to 96 months in prison. He subsequently appealed arguing the prosecutor committed misconduct by shifting the evidentiary burden. The court denied the defendant’s appeal.

Proving a Domestic Violence Violation of a No-Contact Order

The State bears the burden of proving each element of a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Washington law, it is blatant misconduct for the State to shift the burden of proof in a criminal case to the defendant. For example, it is misconduct for a prosecutor to advise the jury that a defendant should be found guilty because of the defendant’s failure to provide evidence in support of his or her theory of defense. If the prosecution merely mentions that the defendant’s evidence is lacking, however, it does not constitute prosecutorial misconduct. In the subject case, the court noted that the prosecutor merely pointed out the improbabilities of the defendant’s theory of defense, which did not constitute misconduct. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Seasoned Washington Domestic Violence Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Case

A conviction for a violation of a domestic violence no-contact order can result in serious penalties including imprisonment. If you live in Washington and are charged with a violation a domestic violence no-contact order or any other crime of domestic violence, you should meet with a seasoned Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.  The skillful domestic violence defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White will develop persuasive arguments on your behalf to help you pursue a successful outcome under the facts of your case. You can contact us at 253-363-8662 or through the online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting to discuss your case.