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Washington Court Discusses Sentencing in Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic violence is a serious issue and is treated as such by the Washington courts. Therefore, in order to prevent victims of domestic violence from suffering continued harm, a court may order a defendant convicted of violating a no-contact order to attend counseling or mental health treatment. Recently, the discretion and basis for imposing certain community custody conditions in cases involving domestic violence were explained in an opinion issued by a Washington court, in a matter in which the defendant argued his sentence was unrelated to his crime. If you are charged with violating a no-contact order or a similar crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Alleged Crimes

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of six counts of misdemeanor domestic violence after he damaged his ex-wife’s home and car, set her bed on fire, and threatened to kill himself. After his conviction, a no-contact order was entered prohibiting him from coming within one thousand feet of his ex-wife’s home.

Allegedly, in 2019, the police received a phone call from a relative of the defendant’s ex-wife, stating that the defendant was in the ex-wife’s home and there were concerns for her safety. The police ultimately detained the defendant at the premises, and he was arrested and charged with a felony violation of the no-contact order. He was sentenced to a year in prison, followed by two years of community custody. One of the conditions of his community custody was that he was to attend a domestic violence program. He appealed, arguing that the condition was unrelated to his offense. On appeal, the court affirmed.

Community Custody Conditions in Cases Involving Domestic Violence

An appellate court will evaluate whether a condition of community custody is adequately related to a crime under an abuse of discretion standard. The court explained that an abuse of discretion would occur when the condition imposed is blatantly unreasonable, and the court exercises its discretion on unsustainable grounds or for untenable reasons.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the conditions of the defendant’s community custody. Specifically, the court stated that Washington law permits courts to order criminal offenders to participate in crime-related counseling or rehabilitation services that are sufficiently related to the underlying offense, the safety of the community, and the defendant’s risk of reoffending. Here, the condition imposed required the defendant to attend a program that would provide him insight into how his actions affected others. The appellate court found this to be sufficiently related to his crime and affirmed his sentence.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Washington

A conviction for a domestic violence crime can result in substantial penalties. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence offense, it is prudent to speak to a lawyer about your options. The experienced criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White possess the skills and resources needed to mount compelling arguments, and we will advocate zealously in your favor. You can contact us through our online form or at 253-203-1645 to schedule a meeting.

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