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Q&A on Recent Cases and Changes to Felony Violations of No Contact Orders in Tacoma, WA

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Assault, Assault and Evidence, Criminal Defense, Domestic Violence

Q: What constitutes a felony violation of a no-contact order in Tacoma, WA?RCW 10.99.040

A: In Washington state, including Tacoma, a violation of a no-contact order typically becomes a felony if the individual has two or more prior convictions for violating similar orders. If the individual does not have prior convictions, such violations are usually treated as misdemeanors​​. RCW 7.105.450 

Q: Can you provide an example of a recent case involving a felony violation of a no-contact order?

A: Yes, there was a case where a defendant was charged with a felony violation after contacting his girlfriend despite a no-contact order. This was escalated to a felony due to the defendant allegedly having two prior convictions for similar violations. The court had to consider the validity of these prior convictions during the trial​​.

Q: What must the prosecution prove in cases of felony violations of no-contact orders?

A: To secure a conviction for a felony violation of a no-contact order, the prosecution must prove that the accused was aware of the order and willfully violated it. This includes demonstrating the individual’s knowledge of the no-contact order and intentional actions to contravene its terms​

Q: Have there been any recent changes in how these violations are adjudicated or penalized?

A: Recent judicial discussions have underscored the importance of proving the validity of prior convictions that elevate a no-contact order violation to a felony. If prior convictions are challenged, the state must affirm their constitutional validity to sustain a felony charge. This emphasizes the need for thorough legal documentation and process in prior convictions used in such cases​.

Q: What are the penalties for felony no-contact order violations in Tacoma?

A: A felony no-contact order violation can result in severe penalties, including up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. These penalties reflect the serious nature of repeat offenses and the intent to protect victims from further harm​​.

Q: What should someone do if accused of violating a no-contact order?

A: It is crucial for anyone accused of violating a no-contact order to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can provide guidance on the rights of the accused and potentially challenge the evidence or circumstances of the alleged violation, especially considering the complexities involved in proving such cases​.

Q: Can a no-contact order violation be charged as a felony without the individual having two prior violations?

A: Yes, a no-contact order violation can be charged as a felony even without two prior violations if the incident involves an assault. In Washington State, when a violation of a no-contact order includes an act of assault, it is charged as a felony due to the increased threat and harm posed to the victim​

Q: Are there other circumstances where a no-contact order violation could escalate to a felony charge without previous convictions?

A: Beyond assault, other severe or dangerous behaviors during the violation of a no-contact order can lead to felony charges. This might include actions that pose a significant threat to the safety of the victim or the public, such as stalking, harassment, or the presence of a deadly weapon during the violation. The specifics would depend on the details of the incident and the discretion of the prosecuting authorities​​.

Q: What are the legal consequences of such felony charges in Tacoma?

A: Felony charges for no-contact order violations that involve assault or other severe behaviors typically carry serious consequences. These may include longer prison sentences, higher fines, and more stringent post-release conditions. Such charges are treated with heightened severity because they represent a direct and significant threat to individual safety​.

Q: What should individuals do if facing a felony charge for a no-contact order violation under these circumstances?

A: Individuals facing such charges should seek legal representation immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help navigate the complexities of the legal system, challenge the prosecution’s case, and advocate for the rights of the accused. Legal counsel is crucial in these cases to ensure that the accused’s side of the story is properly represented and to explore all possible defenses​.