CrRLJ 7.3 - JudgmentComments for CrRLJ 7.3 must be received no later than April 30, 2009.
GR 9 Cover Sheet
Suggested Changes to CrRLJ 7.3 (JUDGMENT)
Purpose: CrRLJ 7.3 specifies the minimum elements which the court must include in a judgment and record of the sentencing proceedings in a court of limited jurisdiction. This suggested change to CrRLJ 7.3 adds two additional elements to the judgment and record of sentencing proceedings:
1) The specific statute or ordinance, including any subsection, for which the defendant is sentenced (CrRLJ 7.3 (c)), and
2) Identify if the charge is a domestic violence-related offense (CrRLJ 7.3 (d)).
A letter from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section, which was sent to court officials in Washington State, has prompted the amendments suggested for CrRLJ 7.3. The NICS is a computerized system designed to conduct a search of available records to immediately determine if a person is eligible to receive or possess firearms. Before transferring a firearm to a non-licensed individual, a federal firearms licensee must contact the NICS Section for a background check. The NICS Section has three business days to conduct the background check and determine whether a firearms transfer is prohibited. If the NICS Section has not been able to make a definitive determination within that time frame, the federal firearms licensee may lawfully transfer the firearm.
Among other federal prohibitions, persons convicted in any court of a qualifying Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence (MCDV) are prohibited from possessing a firearm. The letter from the FBI, dated September 26, 2007, stated that previously the NICS Section and state counterparts used police reports to establish whether a qualifying Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence (MCDV) had been committed. However, only certain misdemeanor offenses fall within the federal definition of a MCDV, and the NICS Section is now required to request the actual record of conviction, not just the police reports, to determine if the prospective firearm transferee has been convicted of a crime which will bar him or her from taking possession of a firearm. If the record of conviction is not explicit, the NICS Section will need to make its determination from court transcripts or other court documentation.
This information from the FBI prompted the Supreme Court Pattern Forms Committee to review the non-electronic pattern judgment and sentence form to determine if Washington’s court records of conviction provide sufficient information to assist state and federal authorities with firearm background checks. Pursuant to CrRLJ 7.2 (e) (2), a non-electronic judgment and sentence form is prescribed by the Administrator for the Courts in conjunction with the Supreme Court Pattern Forms Committee. Pursuant to CrRLJ 7.2 (e) (1), an electronic judgment and sentence is prescribed by the Administrator for the Courts in conjunction with the Judicial Information System Committee (JISC). CrRLJ 7.3 sets forth the minimum elements of information which must be included in both the non-electronic pattern judgment and sentence form and the electronic judgment and sentence form.
After reviewing the non-electronic pattern judgment and sentence form, the Pattern Forms Committee amended the form to include the specific statute or local ordinance, including the subsection, to which defendant pled or was found guilty. Also added was a place to identify a crime as a domestic violence-related offense under state law, when appropriate. However, modifying the non-electronic pattern judgment and sentence form does not affect the contents of the electronic judgment and sentence form.
The electronic judgment and sentence record consists of the elements set forth in CrRLJ 7.3. Amending CrRLJ 7.3, as suggested in this rule change, will result in the electronic judgment and sentence including the same two additional elements which have already been added to the non-electronic pattern judgment and sentence form. In addition, if CrRLJ 7.3 is amended by the Supreme Court, then those courts of limited jurisdiction which have developed their own non-electronic judgment and sentence form instead of using the form developed by the Pattern Forms Committee will be required to update their judgment and sentence form to include the two new required elements.
The suggested rule change will assist the persons who do the state and federal firearm background checks in determining if the crime is a “Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence.” The suggested rule change will also improve consistency among the courts of limited jurisdiction that choose not to use the pattern judgment and sentence form by requiring that all of those courts include the same minimum elements in the forms they develop as are included by the courts using the pattern form. Finally, the parties will have a better understanding of the conviction and a better record of what happened in the courtroom if these two additional elements are included in the judgment and sentence.
A final reason to amend the rule to add this information is that RCW 10.99.040 (1) (d) requires all judges to identify domestic violence (DV)–related offenses on docket sheets. The Legislature’s directive to judges to assist in identification of DV-related offenses can be fulfilled by making sure the sentencing documents contain this information.
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