In the Matter of the Personal Restraint Petition of WILLIAM NEAL FRANCE, Petitioner.
convicted William Neal France as charged of three counts of
felony harassment of his former attorney and two counts of
felony harassment of The Defender Association (TDA) deputy
director in violation of RCW 9A.46.020. The Washington
Supreme Court affirmed the felony harassment convictions.
State v. France. 180 Wn.2d 809, 820, 329 P.3d 864
(2014). On December 8, 2015, France filed a personal
restraint petition. France claims that because the course of
conduct is repeatedly threatening to cause bodily harm to the
same victim, three of the five convictions violate double
jeopardy and the prohibition against multiple punishments for
the same offense. France argues the only case that has
addressed the unit of prosecution for felony harassment,
State v. Vidales Morales, 174 Wn.App. 370, 298 P.3d
791 (2013), supports his argument. We disagree. In
Vidales Morales, we concluded that given the factual
scenario in that case, the unit of prosecution was the threat
to cause bodily harm to a single identified victim at a
particular time and place regardless of how many times the
threat was communicated. Unlike in Vidales Morales,
France made different types of threats to cause bodily harm
to each of the two victims at different times and places. We
conclude under the facts in this case, the unit of
prosecution is each threat and each threat is a violation of
the felony harassment statute. We deny the personal restraint
State charged France with felony violation of a protection
order in 2009. TDA attorney Anita Paulsen represented France
and negotiated a plea agreement with the State. The State
agreed to resolve a pending charge of misdemeanor assault in
the fourth degree and recommend a drug offender sentencing
alternative (DOSA). The court accepted the plea, finding
France knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered into
the plea. TDA social worker Nina Beach worked with France to
obtain benefits after release from custody.
sentencing hearing on October 16, 2009, the court followed
the recommendation and imposed a DOSA sentence for felony
violation of a protection order and a concurrent sentence for
in late 2010, France started leaving angry and
"inappropriate" voice mails for Paulsen and Beach.
After receiving "at least a dozen, probably more"
voice mails, Paulsen met with TDA Deputy Director Lisa
called France in an effort to figure out why he was so
"upset" and "what was motivating such
anger." When France returned the call, he was
"quite upset" Daugaard had called him.
Daugaard sent France a "cease and desist" letter.
Daugaard told France not to contact Paulsen or Beach. But
Daugaard offered to talk to France about whether "he was
dissatisfied or had concerns about his representation ...
and, if there was follow-up that needed to happen, [she]
would make sure that that happened."
ignored the cease and desist letter and continued to contact
Paulsen and Beach. France also started leaving threatening
voice mails for Daugaard.
said that after Daugaard sent the cease and desist letter,
"it was like putting gasoline on a fire." The voice
mails "had a different character to them"-
"[t]hreats of sexual assault, threats of cutting us,
shooting us, ... and sexual assault in the most vile language
I think I've ever heard."
and Paulsen contacted the police. Paulsen said she "had
never, ever even contemplated reporting a client" to the
police. Daugaard testified it was the first time in her
career as a public defense attorney that she contacted the
police about a client.
I've never participated in reporting any of our clients
to law enforcement out of all those thousands and thousands
and thousands of interactions and many whatever dozens or
hundreds of complaints and unhappy people and sometimes
None of those interactions have ever made me think it was
appropriate to take that kind of step.
September 23, 2011, the State charged France with 16 counts
of felony harassment in violation of RCW 9A.46.020: 6 counts
of felony harassment of Paulsen, 5 counts of felony
harassment of Daugaard, and 5 counts of felony harassment of
Beach. The State alleged manifest deliberate cruelty and an
offense against an officer of the court as aggravating
pleaded guilty to nine counts of felony harassment and the
aggravating factor of committing an offense against an
officer of the court "in support of an exceptional
sentence." In the "Statement of Defendant on Plea
of Guilty, " France admits, "I placed the calls
that are contained in pre-trial exhibit 1
." France admits he "knowingly
threatened to cause bodily injury" to each of the
victims "immediately or in the future, " he
"threatened to maliciously do an act intended to
substantially harm" each victim, and "my words
placed [each victim] in reasonable fear that the threat would
be carried out." The State agreed to dismiss the other
seven counts of felony harassment and the aggravating factor
of deliberate cruelty.
court found there was a factual basis for the plea and France
knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered the plea.
The court found France guilty as charged in the amended
and Daugaard attended the sentencing hearing on November 10,
2011 to address imposition of an exceptional sentence.
Paulsen told the court France was a "very
dangerous" and "terrifying individual" who
promised to "hunt us down like animals on the street in
front of the courthouse or the jail as we went around about
our work." Paulsen "just wanted it to be over"
and urged the court to impose an exceptional sentence.
[I]t [is] important for the Court to know how unusual this
is, how dangerous I felt the situation was in that this was
something for no apparent reason that I could understand,
something that escalated in frequency over time, described
time, place, manner of assault, history of violence towards
others that had been acted upon, a history of gratuitous
also asked the court to impose an exceptional sentence.
Daugaard told the court France "talked about how he
would find where I live and hurt not only me but whoever
lived with me."
court imposed an exceptional sentence of 180 months. The
court ordered France to have no contact with the victims for
the maximum term of 15 years.
Felony Harassment Charges
the court order to have no contact with Paulsen and Daugaard,
France started leaving voice mails for Paulsen and Daugaard
almost immediately after the sentencing hearing on November
November 10, France left a voice mail for Daugaard
threatening to harm her.
Hey bitch. You fucked up by coming into the courtroom today.
You think for one fucking minute nothing's going to
happen to you? You worthless mother-fucking slut.... Give a
message to Rita, Anita Paulsen, same thing. 8 years.
You'd better find a new job, bitch. You better find a new
testified that France called and left a voice mail
"within hours of the sentencing" but she did not
listen to the voice mail until November 11. In the voice
mail, France tells Paulsen that "a few of my friends ...
[will] be paying you a visit."
Hello honey. Glad to hear your voice. What you did in the
courtroom was outstanding. That was a marvelous fucking act.
I never heard [inaudible] in my whole life. I called up a
friend, I called up a few of my friends. I told them about
[you]. They'll be paying you a visit. Have a nice fucking
life, you worthless fucking bitch.
said the voice mail placed her in absolute fear.
[I]t tells me he will not be dissuaded, he cannot be stopped,
as soon as he has access to a phone, he will call and, as
soon as he is out, he will try to implement his threat, or he
will find quote some of his friends to do that for him.
described most of the other voice mails she had received as
"sexually explicit with threats of anal rape and
sodomy." Paulsen said the voice mail on November 11 was
"different"-it was a threat that his friends would
On November 17, France left another threatening voice mail
Hello Anita. That was spectacular you being in the courtroom.
That was great. I like that, you was really concerned about
my welfare. Just want to let you know there's a couple
of, a couple of my buddies are coming to see ya. They'll
take you out for lunch. You know. Show you, show you
appreciation. Just to let you know. It's gonna be okay. I
told them to take care of ya. You know to treat you really
testified the statement "[t]hey'll take you out for
lunch" meant his "buddies" would "take me
Q. Now, I don't know whether you would - this is a fair
characterization or not, but do you detect some note of
sarcasm in the voice or tone in terms of people showing their
appreciation or taking you out to lunch, those sorts of
things? The words seem to suggest one thing; how did you
A. Mr. France has historically been fairly cagey with a lot
of his cases. I interpret it as taking me out to lunch,
meaning to take me out, period.
Q. Did you perceive it as a threat?
A. I did perceive it as a threat.
Q. Is there any doubt in your mind that it was intended as a