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State v. Granath

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

July 31, 2017

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
WENDY GRANATH, Appellant.

          Becker, J.

         At issue is a postconviction domestic violence no-contact order issued by a district court under RCW 10.99.050(1) to record a condition of the sentence. We hold the court erred by refusing to lift the order when the defendant fulfilled all the conditions of her sentence.

         FACTS

         Appellant Wendy Granath was charged with sending a series of harassing e-mails to her estranged husband. She was convicted in King County District Court on one count of cyberstalking and one count of violation of a no-contact order. Both offenses were designated as crimes of domestic violence.

         On November 8, 2012, the court imposed a 24-month suspended sentence. The court ordered 24 months of supervised probation and imposed fines and fees totaling $1, 808.

         Under the heading of "Conditions" on the Judgment and sentence form, the court checked the box marked "Do not go on the property of and have no contact with" the victim. The form informed Granath that the conditions of sentence would "remain In effect through the period of the deferred or suspended sentence until and unless changed by Court order" and that a violation could lead to revocation of the suspended sentence.[1]

         Also on November 8, 2012, the court issued a no-contact order. The order form was captioned as a postconviction domestic violence no-contact order authorized by RCW 10.99.050. The order directed Granath not to threaten, stalk, harass, or contact her estranged husband or keep him under surveillance, and not to knowingly come within 500 feet of him, his residence, his school, or his workplace. The order warned, "Violation of this order is a criminal offense under chapter 26.50 RCW and will subject a violator to arrest."

         The order form Includes a blank space for the expiration date:

4. This no-contact order expires on:___.Five years from today if no date is entered.

         In Granath's case, the district court did not enter a date in the blank, so by default, the order was set to expire on November 8, 2017.

         The parties agree that the district court "closed the case" in December 2014 after Granath paid the fines. At this point, the no-contact condition of her sentence no longer remained in effect. Granath moved to have the no-contact order vacated on the ground that it expired when she completed her sentence. The district court denied the motion. The court characterized a no-contact order issued under RCW 10.99.050 as a "stand-alone" order and found that such an order can "survive on its own" for a full five years even if the underlying sentence is completed earlier.

         Granath appealed to King County Superior Court. The superior court affirmed. This court granted Granath's motion for discretionary review.

         The statute under consideration requires a court to "record" a written no-contact order "when a defendant is found guilty of a crime and a condition of the sentence restricts the defendant's ability to have contact with the victim":

(1) When a defendant is found guilty of a crime and a condition of the sentence restricts the defendant's ability to have contact with the victim, such condition shall be recorded and a written certified copy of that order shall be provided to the victim.
(2)(a) Willful violation of a court order issued under this section is punishable under RCW 26.50.110.
(b) The written order shall contain the court's directives and shall bear the legend: Violation of this order is a criminal offense under chapter 26.50 RCW and will subject a violator to arrest; any assault, drive-by shooting, or reckless ...

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