Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-1-06335-3. Date filed: 03/11/96. Judge signing: Hon. Linda Lau.
PER CURIAM -- After Russell Doane pleaded guilty to fourth degree assault, the sentencing court ordered him to sign a notification of ineligibility to possess a firearm. Doane argues that the court abused its discretion because it improperly determined that he had committed a domestic violence offense. Because the sentencing court acted within its discretion in determining that Doane and his victim had a "dating relationship," we affirm.
On September 12, 1995, Doane and DB had consensual sex at a friend's apartment. Doane and DB had known each other for a couple weeks and had been intimate on two prior occasions. Early the next morning, Doane woke DB and allegedly attempted to forcibly rape her.
When DB later reported the attempted rape to the police, Doane was charged with second degree assault. The information stated that Doane had assaulted DB with intent to commit rape. When the State later reduced the charge to fourth degree assault, Doane entered a guilty plea. He signed a statement admitting that he had "intentionally slapped" DB.
At sentencing, the court ordered Doane to sign a notification of ineligibility to possess a firearm due to "the nature of the conviction, a domestic-violence situation[.]" Doane objected to the court's characterization of his crime, arguing that he and DB had only been together on a couple occasions. The State responded, "I think legally it's considered a domestic-violence situation because they, no matter how brief the relationship is, they did have an intimate relationship with each other." The court agreed with the State.
Well, if the State's assessment of it is--I just read the [certification of probable cause] myself and just assumed it was being handled as a domestic violence--however brief, and I've signed the order that you need to abide by. I'll reconsider it if [defense counsel] wants to come back and he has some authority that suggests otherwise, but at this point in time it's the State's position that a brief--even a brief relationship like the one you had qualifies. We are asked to decide whether the sentencing court abused its discretion by determining that Doane committed a domestic violence offense.
Once a person is convicted for fourth degree assault, "when committed by one family or household member against another," his or her subsequent possession of a firearm is unlawful. RCW 9.41.040(b)(i). The statutory definition of a domestic violence offense includes fourth degree assault "when committed by one family or household member against another[.]" RCW 10.99.020(3). Family or household members broadly include persons with whom the offender has had a "dating relationship[.]" RCW 10.99.020(1). A "dating relationship" is defined as a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship;
and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties. RCW 26.50.010(3).
The individual's constitutional right to keep and bear arms is subject to reasonable regulation under the state's police power. State v. Krantz, 24 Wash. 2d 350, 353, 164 P.2d 453 (1945). Doane argues that his right was violated because the State failed to show that his crime constituted a domestic violence offense. Because the record supports the sentencing court's determination that Doane and DB had a dating relationship, we hold that it acted within its discretion by entering the notice of Doane's ineligibility to possess a firearm. Therefore, we affirm.
Doane does not dispute that he had consensual sex with DB at least twice before he assaulted her. Although the two may have known each other for only a couple weeks, long-term involvement is not required under the statutory definition of a dating relationship. Rather, the evidence must merely establish that the couple had a "social relationship of a romantic nature." RCW 26.50.010(3). The sentencing court was entitled to conclude that two adults who have sex are involved in a romantic relationship. We reject Doane's assertion that the relationship's brevity is a critical factor in determining the existence of a dating relationship. While the court is permitted to consider this factor, the statute does not require it to do so. The court was statutorily authorized to find a dating relationship from the intimate nature of Doane's relationship with DB.
Given the fact that Doane and DB had sexual relations before the assault, we hold that the sentencing court acted within its discretion by determining that Doane's crime involved a domestic violence situation. Thus, the court was authorized to order that Doane was ineligible to possess a firearm. We affirm.