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Can OV 19 be scored in a domestic violence case when the defendant violates his bond conditions and contacts the victim?

Because your question does not include facts suggesting force was used or threatened, it appears you are considering scoring OV 19 at 10 points for interference with or attempted interference with the administration of justice. MCL 777.49(c). “[T]he plain and ordinary meaning of ‘interfere with the administration of justice’ for purposes of OV 19 is to oppose so as to hamper, hinder, or obstruct the act or process of administering judgment of individuals or causes by judicial process.” People v Hershey, 303 Mich App 330, 343 (2013). “It ‘encompasses more than just the actual judicial process’ and can include ‘[c]onduct that occurs before criminal charges are filed,’ acts that constitute obstruction of justice, and acts that do not ‘necessarily rise to the level of a chargeable offense[.]’” Id., quoting People v Barbee, 470 Mich 283, 286-288 (2004) (first alteration in original).

While no binding authority has directly addressed scoring OV 19 for violation of a bond condition, the fact that the defendant violated a bond condition, on its own, is probably not enough to score OV 19. In an analogous situation, the Court held that the mere fact that a defendant “was contemporaneously in violation of his parole” at the time of the commission of the sentencing offense did not justify a score of 10 points for OV 19. People v Sours, 315 Mich App 346, 348, 350 (2016). “The fact that [the defendant] was also violating his parole had no effect on the process of investigating, trying, and convicting him for the methamphetamine offense; therefore, OV 19 should have been scored at zero points.” Id. at 350 (noting that “defendant was arrested immediately after being discovered with methamphetamine,” and his “failure to report to his parole agent before committing a new felony . . . did not hinder the process of administering judgment for the sentencing offense”). The Court in Hershey employed a similar analysis regarding violation of probation, concluding that the violation did not hinder the process or act of the court’s administration of justice, and that a violation itself, without underlying conduct that actually interferes with the administration of justice, did not justify scoring OV 19. Hershey, 303 Mich App at 345-346.

Accordingly, the key to determining whether to score points under OV 19 in your case is to examine whether the defendant’s contact with the victim in violation of his bond condition actually hindered the administration of justice in the case. For example, if there is a preponderance of the evidence showing that the defendant’s contact with the victim was an attempt to influence the victim’s testimony, you can likely conclude that the defendant interfered or attempted to interfere with the administration of justice. See People v Steele, 283 Mich App 472, 492-493 (2009) (holding that defendant’s attempt to diminish his victims’ willingness and ability to obtain justice justified scoring 10 points for OV 19). In an unpublished, and therefore nonbinding case, the Court held that OV 19 was properly scored at 10 points where the defendant’s bond was revoked after he violated a no-contact order and directed the victim to write a letter recanting her allegations against him. People v Taylor, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued May 16, 2006 (Docket No. 258848), p 6. Ultimately, resolution of your question depends on whether the facts in your case demonstrate that the defendant’s contact with the victim was an attempt to interfere with or was actual interference with the administration of justice.

Tags: OV 19

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