Adult Sex Offenses (Rape and Sexual Assault)

Rape

Rape encompasses a wide range of conduct and is charged in three degrees of severity. The most severe, Rape in the First Degree, occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another by forcible compulsion and the perpetrator or an accessory uses or threatens to use what appears to be a deadly weapon, kidnaps the victim, inflicts serious physical injury, or feloniously enters into the building or vehicle where the victim is situated. Rape in the First Degree is a Class A Felony.

Rape in the Second Degree occurs where a person engages in sexual intercourse with another by forcible compulsion. Rape in the Second Degree may also occur where the victim is incapable of consent due to being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, or when the victim has a developmental disability. Rape in the Second Degree is a Class A Felony.

Rape in the Third Degree occurs where a person engages in sexual intercourse with another and lack of consent was clearly expressed by the victim’s words or conduct, or where there is a threat of substantial unlawful harm to property rights of the victim. Rape in the Third Degree is a Class C Felony.

The sentencing consequences for all rape charges are severe and include prison time, sex offender registration, and exclusion from certain types of employment. Defending rape cases are very complicated and require an experienced attorney with knowledge of issues of consent, DNA evidence, and experience investigating false claims.

Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape

Date rape is not a specific charge in Washington State that differs from rape. It is a phrase used to encompass a sexual encounter between people who know one another and have consented to some level of contact. This type of allegation usually occurs after people have engaged in sexual contact after drinking or using drugs. If you are accused of raping someone who was too intoxicated to consent to sexual contact, then you are potentially facing very serious charges. Having sex with someone who is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated at the time of the contact is Rape in the Second Degree, a Class A felony. The standard sentence requires several years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. These cases can be very difficult, particularly if the judgment of both parties was impaired. The jury, if the case proceeds to trial, must decide whose version of events they believe and whether consent was given. This type of charge can also occur when a person did lawfully consent but later regrets the decision for any number of reasons such as cheating, remorse, or having a vendetta against the accused.

Rape Shield Law

Washington limits the type of testimony that can be introduced in cases of rape or sexual assault. Generally, evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual behavior is not admissible to prove the victim’s consent. This prohibition includes information about the victim’s general reputation for promiscuity, non-chastity, or sexual mores contrary to community standards. The exception to this rule is when the alleged victim and defendant have engaged in sexual intercourse with each other in the past, and when the past behavior is material to the issue of consent, or when evidence concerning past behavior between the defendant and alleged victim may be admissible on the issue of consent.

Vulnerable Victims

Certain victims are considered more vulnerable than others. The Court may impose a sentence above the guideline for offenses that involve vulnerable victims. Vulnerable victims are those of extreme youth, advanced age, or those who have a physical or mental infirmity. Vulnerability connotes some disability due to age or a physical or mental condition which renders the victim helpless, defenseless, or unable to resist.

Doctor Patient

Cases where a medical professional is accused of sexually assaulting or raping a patient can be charged under multiple rape statutes. If the patient were under the influence of narcotic medications at the time of the alleged incident, the defendant could be facing an enhancement for a vulnerable victim. These cases are very delicate and require a careful approach as the professional’s license and reputation will be at issue.

Solicitation/Prostitution

A person is guilty of prostitution or "exploitation" if such person engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. "Sexual conduct" means "sexual intercourse" or "sexual contact". Prostitution is a gross misdemeanor. A person is guilty of criminal solicitation when, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of a crime, he or she offers to give or gives money or other thing of value to another to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such crime. Criminal solicitation is the crime applied to an individual who pays, or attempts to pay, another person for engaging in sexual acts.

Assault in the Second Degree with Sexual Motivation

Assault in the Second Degree is a crime alleging a serious form of assault. The individual circumstances that can produce a charge of Assault in the Second Degree can be found at RCW 9A.36.021. Where the crime has an element of sexual motivation, the prosecutor can add a Sexual Motivation Enhancement which increases the crime of Assault in the Second Degree from a Class B to a Class A felony. The addition of a Sexual Motivation Enhancement also requires registration as a sex offender.

Indecent Liberties

Indecent Liberties occurs when a person knowingly causes another person to have sexual contact in circumstances where the subject of the contact did not consent or was incapable of consenting. One common form of Indecent Liberties is "forcible compulsion" where a person forces themselves on another person in a sexual manner. These types of cases often occur amongst juveniles where peers are engaged in sexual contact and one later claims they did not consent to the type or extent of contact. If an individual is convicted of Indecent Liberties with Forcible Compulsion it is a very serious offense. Indecent Liberties without forcible compulsion occurs where the victim is incapable of consent because they have a mental defect or are physically helpless. It may also occur where the victim has a developmental disability and the accused has supervisory authority over the victim. These types of offenses may occur within care facilities such as nursing homes, other health care facility, or chemical dependency facility.

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

Every individual convicted of a sex offense in Washington is required to register as a sex offender. A person commits the crime of failure to register as a sex offender if the person has a duty to register for a felony sex offense and knowingly fails to comply with registration requirements. In the case of a first time failure to register conviction in which the underlying conviction was a felony, the conviction is a Class C felony. However, if a person required to register has an underlying misdemeanor offense the conviction will be a misdemeanor. If an individual has more than one failure to register conviction the penalties become more serious. It is very important to maintain registration requirements because many individuals will qualify for Relief from Sex Offender Registration. However, obtaining convictions for failing to register can certainly impact whether an individual can obtain relief from the requirement of registering as a sex offender.