Client found not guilty violating no-contact order
Whitney Hawke recently successfully defended a client against charges he twice violated a no-contact order by calling his girlfriend from jail.
Violation of a no-contact order is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail; a conviction for the crime can also preclude people from legally possessing firearms.
The March 24 trial in Clark County District Court appeared to be a slam-dunk case for the prosecution.
A Vancouver police detective assigned to the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center wrote in his probable cause declaration that he was listening to recordings of phone calls made by inmates at the Clark County Jail as part of his daily duties when he heard a call between an inmate and who he assumed was the inmate’s girlfriend. He knew there was a no-contact order, and he checked a discovered a second call between the inmate and the woman. The calls were made from the inmate’s assigned account to a residence where he had been living with his girlfriend.
But as Hawke successfully argued to the jury, the officer didn’t have proof that it was her client’s girlfriend on the other line. As she argued to the judge in a pre-trial motion, the detective “should be precluded from testifying about the callers’ identities because he has no firsthand knowledge of the call itself, and he did not perceive the phone call as it was happening.” The recordings of the calls should be heard by the jury, and jurors can decide for themselves what the calls reveal.
Hawke told jurors that when the detective spoke with her client’s girlfriend, he didn’t ask her the simple question, “Have you talked to him while he’s been in jail?”
The jury deliberated for an hour before unanimously voting to acquit Hawke’s client.