In Washington, if a person is restricted by a domestic violence no-contact order, the person must strictly abide by the terms of the order, or he or she may face significant penalties. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington appellate court case in which the court found that the State produced sufficient evidence that the defendant committed a felony violation of a no-contact order, even though the person protected by the order consented to the contact. If you live in Washington and are charged with violating a domestic violence no-contact order it is imperative to meet with a seasoned Washington domestic violence defense attorney to evaluate what defenses you can set forth to protect your rights.
Factual Background of the Case
Reportedly, the defendant was subject to two separate domestic violence no-contact orders, preventing him from contacting the alleged victim. The orders were issued in February and July 2016. The defendant acknowledged receipt of the first order via signature but refused to sign for the second order. He was served the second order, however. Each order contained language stating that the defendant could be arrested even if the victim protected by the order permitted or invited the defendant to violate the terms of the order. The orders further explained that it was the defendant’s sole responsibility to refrain from violating the orders.
It is alleged that on August 2017, a police officer observed the defendant and the victim together. The officer recognized the defendant from a prior violation and approached the pair. The defendant gave his real name, but both the defendant and the victim gave the police a fake name for the victim. The defendant was subsequently charged with felony violation of both no-contact orders. The defendant was convicted by a jury, after which he appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.
Sufficiency of Evidence of Violation of a No-Contact Order
In Washington, the evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction if a rational factfinder could find the essential elements of a crime beyond any reasonable doubt. In the subject case, the jury was advised that to find the defendant guilty of a felony violation of the no-contact orders, the State must show that the defendant was subject of a no-contact order and was aware of the order. The State was also required to prove that the defendant knowingly violated the order, that the violation happened in Washington, and that the defendant had been convicted on two prior occasions.
In the subject case, the defendant argued that the State lacked sufficient evidence to prove that he knowingly violated the no-contact orders. The court noted that the defendant signed for the orders and had been arrested for violating the orders in April 2017, and therefore was aware the orders were still in place. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that he was unaware that the orders were in place, because the victim advised him they had been dismissed, noting that if he truly believed the orders were not in place he and the victim would not have given the police a fake name for the victim. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Consult an Experienced Attorney to Discuss Your Available Defenses
A conviction for violation of a no-contact order can significantly impair your rights. If you live in Washington and are faced with a violation of a domestic violence no-contact order it is essential to consult an experienced Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses. The assertive attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White will work tirelessly to help you seek a favorable outcome under the facts of your case. We can be contacted through our online form or at 253-363-8662 to set up a confidential and free meeting to discuss your available defenses.