sexual assault

The term sexual assault refers to a variety of sex crimes from rape to internet sex crimes and molestation. In Washington State, rape is defined as forcible* sexual intercourse** without the other person’s consent.

*Force can be both physical and emotional, including the use of intimidation, coercion or a threat.

**Sexual intercourse is defined as any penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger or an inanimate object.

Sexual Assault Laws WA State

Washington state sexual assault law defines three different degrees of rape for forced sexual intercourse; first, second and third. There is also a separate law for forced sexual contact other than intercourse called indecent liberties.

Washington rape and sexual assault laws – Chapter 9a.44 RCW:

Rape elements

Rape in the first degree is defined as forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, when the perpetrator:

  • Uses or threatens the use of a weapon or
  • Kidnaps the victim or
  • Causes serious physical injury or
  • Breaks into/enters a building/car where the victim is located.
  • Penalty: Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Rape in the second degree is defined as forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, when:

  • The perpetrator uses forcible compulsion or
  • The victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally debilitated or developmentally disabled.
  • Penalty: Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Rape in the third degree is defined as forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, when:

  • The victim’s lack of consent was expressed by words and/or actions or
  • The perpetrator threatens substantial harm to the victim’s property.
  • Penalty: Class C felony, punishable by 5 (five) years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

“Indecent liberties” is defined as engaging in forcible sexual contact*** (except for sexual intercourse) without the victim’s consent, when:

  • The perpetrator uses forcible compulsion or
  • The victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally debilitated or developmentally disabled.
  • Penalty: Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

*** Sexual contact is defined as 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.

Does WA State have mandatory sex offender registration?       

Sex offenders in Washington State must, by law, register in the Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders who fail to comply with this legal obligation by intentionally not registering or by providing false information face serious consequences, including returning to prison or jail.

If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual assault, you can call Washington State law enforcement and the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE.  You may also wish to pursue a personal injury case with a qualified sexual assault lawyer who can help you fight for damages. Among other things, you may be entitled to damages for counseling, pain and suffering and medical expenses.

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