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Washington Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault is a catchall phrase used when referring to certain sex crimes such as rape. In Washington, rape is defined as forcible sexual intercourse without the other person's consent. The force used can be physical or emotional (threat, intimidation, pressure, coercion).

The law recognizes three different degrees of rape (First, Second and Third) involving forced sexual intercourse. There is also a law called "Indecent Liberties" which prohibits forced sexual conduct that is anything other than sexual intercourse.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington rape and sexual assault laws. See also Rape, Statutory Rape, and Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses

Code Sections

Chapter 9a.44 RCW, et seq.

Elements of Rape

Rape: First Degree

Engages in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where the perpetrator:

  • Uses or threatens a weapon; or
  • Kidnaps the victim; or
  • Inflicts serious physical injury; or
  • Enters into a building/ car where the victim is located.

Rape, Second Degree

Engaging in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where:

  • The perpetrator uses forcible compulsion;
  • The victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled.

Rape, Third Degree

Engaging in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where:

  • The victim’s lack of consent was expressed by words or conduct; or
  • The perpetrator threatens substantial harm to victim’s property.

Indecent Liberties

Engaging in forcible sexual contact without the victim’s consent, where:

  • The perpetrator uses forcible compulsion;
  • The victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled.
Penalty

Rape, First and Second Degree: Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Rape, Third Degree: Class C felony, punishable by 5 (five) years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Indecent Liberties: See Class A felony punishment above.

Sexual Intercourse

Penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or an inanimate object, however slight

Sexual Contact

Any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person done for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party or a third party.

Mandatory Sex Registration?

Sex offenders must, by law, register in the Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders who intentionally do not comply with the mandatory registration requirements by failing to register or providing false information face serious consequences, including returning to prison or jail.

Resources

With the passages of Washington Senate Bill 5649, the Washington legislature effectively removed the statute of limitation for several forms of sexual assult. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted contact any of the following resources:

Charged with Violating Washington Rape and Sexual Assault Laws? Get Legal Help

Conviction under Washington rape and sexual assault laws could result in several years in prison in addition to being added to the sexual offender registry. For this reason, if you've been charged with rape, sexual assault, or any other sex-related crime, it's in your best interest to contact an experienced sex crime attorney in Washington who will be able to discuss your legal options and represent you in plea negotiations and court.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex cases usually require a lawyer
  • Experienced lawyers can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties
  • Sexual assaults & sex crime convictions often have long sentences and lifelong consequences

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