Washington Court Discusses Grading Domestic Violence Violations of Probation

In many cases, a defendant convicted of a crime will be sentenced to supervised release subject to the terms and conditions set forth by the sentencing court. If a defendant on supervised release subsequently violates and of the conditions, he or she is required to comply with, the court may order the defendant to be sentenced to imprisonment. In a recent case in which the defendant violated the terms of his supervised released by committing a domestic violence assault, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington analyzed how violations of supervised release should be graded by the courts. If you are charged with a crime or violation of supervised release in Washington, it is advisable to consult a Washington domestic violence attorney regarding your options for fighting to protect your liberties.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, who was on supervised release, lived with his girlfriend, a recovering methamphetamine addict. The girlfriend attended support classes as part of her recovery and often gave rides to a man in the class who was unable to drive. The defendant became jealous and ultimately confronted the girlfriend at one of the classes. When the girlfriend returned home that evening, the defendant punched her in the face. He proceeded to leave a voicemail on the girlfriend’s father’s phone in which he threatened to kill the girlfriend. The girlfriend went to the defendant’s father’s house next door and locked herself in the bathroom. The defendant followed her and again threatened to kill her.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with violations of supervised release arising out of the assault. He then violated a no-contact order by asking the girlfriend to sign an affidavit in support of his defense. Probation issued a report asserting that the defendant violated his release by committing assault in the fourth degree – domestic violence, interfering with domestic violence reporting, threatening to kill, and violation of a no-contact order. Probation also submitted a sentencing guideline identifying the violation of the no-contact order as a felony, which probation argued was a class B violation. Probation recommended a sentence of 18 to 24 months. The court ultimately sentenced the defendant to 10 months’ imprisonment, after which the defendant appealed.

Grading Violations of Supervised Release Under Washington Law 

On appeal, the defendant argued that because the alleged violations of his release were misdemeanors, they should have been graded as grade C violations, with a sentencing range of 7 to 13 months. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument, stating that the defendant testified at the hearing on the matter that he committed felony conduct, including harassment with threats to kill and witness tampering. The court explained that in determining a proper grade for a violation of release, a court must assess the defendant’s actual conduct, not merely the listed violations. Thus, the court ruled that the defendant’s conduct supported a sentencing range of 18 to 24 months, and rejected the defendant’s appeal.

Confer with a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney

If you live in Washington are charged with domestic violence offense, it is in your best interest to confer with a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert. The diligent attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White are proficient at defending people charged with crimes, and we will work tirelessly on your behalf in the pursuit of a successful result. We can be contacted through our online form or at 253-203-1645 to schedule a conference.

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