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Rape & Sexual Assault

“Sexual assault” is a term used to refer to any type of sexual activity that lacks consent. Legal definitions of sexual assault crimes vary by state, but sexual assault may include non-consensual intercourse or rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, and sexual harassment.

Sexual Assault Laws in Washington State:

In Washington State, there are three different degrees of rape crimes, involving non-consensual sexual intercourse. Additionally, there is a law called “Indecent Liberties” prohibiting sexual conduct that is anything other than sexual intercourse, without the victim's consent. (link to separate Indecent Liberties page)

Rape in the first degree (class A felony): RCW 9A.44.040:  Forced sexual intercourse without the victim's consent, where the perpetrator:

  • uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon
  • kidnaps the victim; or
  • inflicts serious physical injury
  • enters into the building or vehicle where the victim is located

Rape in the second degree (class A felony): RCW 9A.44.050:  Forced sexual intercourse without the victim's consent, where:

  • the perpetrator uses forcible compulsion (physical force or threat), or
  • the victim is incapable of consent because he/she is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or developmentally disabled. 

Rape in the third degree (class C felony): RCW 9A.44.060:  Forced sexual intercourse without the victim's consent, where:

  • circumstances do not constitute first or second degree rape
  • victim's lack of consent was expressed by words or conduct, or
  • there is threat of substantial harm to victim's property rights

There are additional laws and statutes covering child molestation crimes, custodial misconduct, incest, child rape, and sexual misconduct with minors. Please see Chapter 9a.44 RCW for details. (& link to separate content page)

Understanding Consent:

Consent means “giving permission for something to happen”. In terms of sexual contact, consent means willingly choosing to participate. The University of Washington webpage aptly describes what consent looks like: 

  • Consent is not the absence of a no, it's the presence of a yes
  • The best way to know if you have consent is to ask
  • Consent can always be withdrawn
  • Consent isn't something given just once; it's ongoing active process
  • Nothing makes consent automatic or unnecessary
  • In some situations, full, informed and free consent cannot truly be given (incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, emotional distress or coercion)

Penalties & Legal Representation:

Rape in the first degree and Rape in the second degree are Class A felonies, carrying fines of up to $50,000, imprisonment for up to a life term, or both. Rape in the third degree is a Class C felony, carrying fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.

These are very serious crimes, involving very serious consequences. It goes without saying that these penalties will alter every aspect of your life. If you are accused of a crime like this, you need to enlist serious, knowledgeable representation from a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.

Please contact us so we may begin promptly working on your case. We are dedicated to ensuring your rights are fully protected and will work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

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