Statutory Rape

Seattle, Washington Sexual Assault Attorneys

Statutory Rape Offenses

Rape of a Child, Child Molestation and Sexual Misconduct with a Minor Attorneys.

At the Meryhew Law Group we represent many clients who are charged with a sex offense for a consensual relationship with someone who is too young under the law to consent to sexual contact. In 1991 Washington changed the name of these offenses from Statutory Rape to Rape of a Child and Child Molestation, and the penalties can be very serious for these offenses. These charges can be devastating, and brand someone a sex offender for a very long time. Defending these charges is challenging, but there are statutory defenses and ways to mitigate the charges so that your future is not lost once these allegations are made.

In Washington the age of consent is 16 years of age under most circumstances, but there are many exceptions. It is a defense to Rape of a Child, Child Molestation or Sexual Misconduct with a Minor if you were told the person was of the legal age and it was reasonable for you to have relied upon what you were told. But often it is your word against theirs, and these cases can pose many challenges to defend. A growing number of our cases begin on the Internet where young people claim to be much older that they really are and behave in ways that are very adult. These online chats often lead to in person meetings that can be disastrous for the person who is not very careful.

At the Meryhew Law Group our lawyers fight these charges with proven results every day. If you are charged with a sexual offense based upon a victim who was too young to consent you need the kind of experience, creativity and dedication behind you that we have to offer. We understand how these cases are investigated, how evidence is collected and processed, and what needs to be done in order to challenge the prosecution. If you've been arrested on charges of statutory rape, contact The Meryhew Law Group today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.

Frequently Asked Questions About Statutory Rape Offenses

1. What are the defenses in the law to Rape of a Child, Child Molestation, Sexual misconduct with a minor?

It is a defense to these charges that the defendant must prove that it was reasonable for them to believe that the person they met was of the legal age. The statute says it is no defense that the perpetrator did not know the victim’s actual age, except that it is a defense if at the time of the offense the perpetrator reasonably believed that the person was of a legal age for sexual contact or sexual intercourse. The defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it was reasonable for them to believe the victim was of a legal age based upon representations made by the person. RCW 9A.44.030 Proving that someone misrepresented his or her age, and that it was a reasonable act for our client to rely on that misrepresentation, isn't always easy to do and requires an experienced and tenacious attorney.

2. What are the age differences under the law that makes consent irrelevant?

If a person is to young to consent under the law, then the fact that they agree to sexual activity is not a defense. Society has determined that at certain ages children are too young to appreciate the nature and consequences of sexual activity, and therefore it is illegal to have that contact. Period. However, if the person's involved are close to each other in age, then the law does not make sexual contact illegal unless there is a lack of consent or force is used to overcome resistance to sexual contact. In other words, under Washington law peers may have consensual sexual contact without prosecution, but once there is more than the specified number of years between them prosecution becomes a very real possibility.

The specific age differences that make sexual contact legal or illegal under the law are:

  • Rape of a Child in the First Degree. With children under 12, it is a defense if the parties are less than twenty-four months apart in age.
  • Rape of a Child in the Second Degree. With children 12 – 14 years of age, it is a defense it the parties are less than thirty-six months apart in age.
  • Rape of a Child in the Third Degree. With children 14 – 16 years of age, it is a defense if the parties are less than forty-eight months apart in age.
  • Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the First Degree. For students and others in a significant or supervisory position, it is a defense if the victim is at least 18 years old and if the parties are less than 60 months apart in age.
  • Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the Second Degree. For students and others in a significant or supervisory position, it is a defense if the victim was at least 18 years old and the parties are less than 60 months apart in age.
  • Child Molestation First Degree. For children under 12, it is a defense if the parties are less than thirty-six months apart in age.
  • Child Molestation in the Second Degree. For children 12 – 14 years of age, it is a defense if the parties are less than thirty-six months apart in age.
  • Child Molestation in the Third Degree. For children 14 – 16 years of age, it is a defense if the parties are less than forty-eight months apart in age.

3. What are the definitions of "consent," "sexual contact," and "sexual intercourse" under the law in Washington?

" Consent" means that at the time of the sexual acts the parties use actual words or engage in conduct that indicates the consent is freely given

"Sexual contact" means any touching of the genitals, buttocks or a female’s breasts, as well as other intimate parts of the body, if done for the purposes of sexual gratification

"Sexual intercourse" means what we think of as intercourse, as well as any penetration of the vagina or anus by any body part or object, no matter how slight the penetration, unless the penetration is for medical treatment or diagnostic purposes. It also means any sexual contact between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.

4. What are the penalties for someone found guilty of one instance of a sexual offense based upon the parties' ages? (Sentences get significantly higher for multiple offenses.)

Rape of a Child First Degree

Class A felony sex offense. A minimum sentence of 93 - 123 months in prison and a maximum of life in prison. If released from prison, the person is on probation (or "community custody") for the rest of their life. This is an indeterminate sentence, which means a person sentenced for this offense can be held in prison for the rest of their life, and is only released upon a finding by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that you are not likely to commit another sex offense if you are released. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders, up to lifetime registration.

Rape of a Child Second Degree.

Class A felony sex offense. A minimum sentence of 78 - 102 months in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Lifetime probation. Indeterminate Sentence. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders, up to lifetime registration.

Rape of a Child Third Degree.

Class C felony sex offense. A sentence of 12 - 14 months in prison and three years of probation. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders.

Child Molestation First Degree

Class A felony sex offense. A minimum sentence of 51 - 68 months in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Lifetime probation. Indeterminate Sentence. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders, up to lifetime registration.

Child Molestation Second Degree

Class B felony sex offense. A sentence of 15 - 20 months in prison followed by three years of probation. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders.

Child Molestation Third Degree

Class C felony sex offense. A sentence of 6 - 12 months in jail a one-year of probation. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders.

Sexual Misconduct with a Minor First Degree

Class C felony sex offense. A sentence of 6 - 12 months in jail and one year of probation. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders.

Sexual Misconduct with a Minor Second Degree.

Gross Misdemeanor sex offense. A sentence of 0 - 364 days in jail and one year of probation. A minimum of 10 years of sex offender registration for adult offenders.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Meryhew Law Group

As criminal defense attorneys, we focus on defending those accused of sex crimes. We understand how these cases are investigated, how evidence is collected and processed, and what needs to be done in order to challenge the prosecution. If you've been arrested on charges of statutory rape, contact The Meryhew Law Group today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.