In some circumstances, a Washington criminal defendant may be eligible for a sentencing alternative, including a parenting sentence alternative, a drug offender sentencing alternative (“DOSA”), or a mental health sentencing alternative (“MHSA”). The defendant must meet certain conditions to qualify for these alternatives. A defendant is only eligible for an MHSA if: their conviction is for a felony but is not a sex offense or a serious violent offense, they have a diagnosis for a serious mental illness recognized by the current mental health diagnostic manual, the judge determines the defendant and community would benefit from treatment and supervision, and the defendant is willing to participate. RCW 9.94A.695(1). If the court determines that an MHSA is appropriate, it imposes a term of community custody within a range determined based on the length of the standard range sentence, but the court has discretion in determining the actual length of the community custody within the ranges. RCW 9.94A.695(4).
A defendant recently challenged his sentence for felony violation of a no-contact order, arguing the court did not follow the proper procedure set forth in the statute when it denied his request for an MHSA.
According to the unpublished opinion of the appeals court, the defendant was arrested outside his ex-wife’s apartment in April, 2021. Two active no-contact orders prohibited him from contacting her or being within 1,000 feet of her apartment. He had served a sentence for a prior violation and recently been released. He was also under the conditions of a DOSA.