Proposed Legislation: Multiply Repeat Domestic Violence Felony Convictions
The lack of a multiplier is a critical problem in holding the most egregious and dangerous domestic violence offenders (those with prior felony domestic violence convictions) accountable. Unlike drug, sex, burglaries, car theft, and felony traffic offenses where multiplying penalties significantly increase an offender's sentence, the SRA does not multiply offender scores for felony crimes of domestic violence.
As a result, the penalties for repeat domestic violence, a behavior so wide spread it is well recognized in professional literature as the "cycle of violence," is among the lowest in felony criminal justice. The Sentencing Guidelines Commission commentary in the SRA on the role of criminal history is informative:
[T]he grid places an accelerated emphasis on criminal history for the repeat violent offender…[t]hus, a criminal history with serious violent crime convictions counts most heavily when the current offense is also a serious violent offense; previous convictions for violent offenses count more heavily when the current offense is violent; prior burglary convictions count more heavily when the current offense is a burglary; prior drug offenses count more heavily when the current offense is a drug offense; and prior violent felony traffic offenses count more heavily when the current offense is a felony traffic offense. The Legislature has subsequently provided for counting sex offenses more heavily when the current offense is a sex offense. Adult Sentencing Manual 2007 II-118
This legislation proposes multiplying or counting more heavily a certain class of prior domestic violence felony convictions. Designating a limited class of specific felony domestic violence convictions to be multiplied by adding to RCW 9.94A.525 (offender score calculation) the following language:
If the present conviction is for a felony domestic violence offense, count priors as in subsections (7) through (11) and (12) through (17) of this section; however count two points for each adult and juvenile prior conviction for Felony Violation No Contact Order/Protection Order (assault), Felony Harassment Domestic Violence, Felony Stalking Domestic Violence, Burglary 1 Domestic Violence, Kidnapping 1 and 2 Domestic Violence, Unlawful Imprisonment Domestic Violence, Robbery 1 and 2 Domestic Violence, Assault 2 and 3 Domestic Violence, or Arson 1 and 2 Domestic Violence; count one point for Felony Violation of a No Contact Order (two priors), Residential Burglary Domestic Violence; count one point for each serious domestic violence offense, other than those convictions that are an element of the offense being scored
In addition, amend 9.94A.030 (Sentencing Reform Act definitions) to add "domestic violence" defined as a criminal offense committed between a defendant and a victim having a relationship as defined in RCW 10.99.020 or 26.50.010.
This narrowly drawn multiplier for domestic violence felony crimes would not act as a blanket multiplier and instead focus on core domestic violence felonies. As above, the multiplier requires pleading and proving the domestic violence designation. The multiplier excludes domestic violence property crimes, Felony Violation of a No Contact Order (two prior offenses), and Residential Burglary domestic violence. The multiplier recognizes domestic violence as a distinct crime with punishment for repeat offenders of core offenses.