Man’s conviction for taking daughter overturned

OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court has overturned a man’s conviction for taking his daughter to California and Mexico for four months in 2008 without the permission of his estranged wife.

Jose Veliz Jr. was convicted of custodial interference. He wife had obtained a domestic violence protection order against him, which specified that he was allowed custody of the girl on weekends only.

The question before the high court was whether that order met the definition of a “court-ordered parenting plan,” the violation of which would constitute first-degree custodial interference.

Justice Charles Wiggins wrote for a 5-4 majority Thursday that legally, a “parenting plan” is a document ordered by a court as part of divorce proceedings. The majority said no such document was in effect in Veliz’s case, so he could not have committed custodial interference.

Justice James Johnson wrote in dissent that the protection order included a plan for parenting the child, and thus should be considered a “court-ordered parenting plan.” He said the majority’s opinion twisted the law in a way that contradicted the Legislature’s desire to protect crime victims.

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