Black Law, PLLC is a Seattle criminal defense firm. Our attorneys have over 20 years of combined experience in advocating for the rights of clients on criminal defense matters – this includes cases involving the rape of a child. The latter crime is an extremely serious offense with life-altering consequences. If you or a loved one has been charged with the rape of a child, contact our firm now.
Rape (in General) Under Washington Law
Washington defines rape as forcible sexual intercourse without the other person’s consent. Sexual intercourse is defined as penetration (anal, oral, or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or an inanimate object, however slight. Note that the force used in the “forcible sexual intercourse” can be physical or emotional. Some examples of emotional force include threats, intimidation, and coercion.
Rape of a Child Under Washington Law
This offense is different than the general charge of “rape.” In rape cases, prosecutors must prove specific elements of the crime (e.g., sexual intercourse, lack of consent, force, and penetration). “Rape of a child,” however, is proven, or established, solely by the age of the victim and the defendant. This is why the crime is sometimes referred to as “statutory rape.” Washington statute specifies at what age a victim is unable to consent to sex.
To help clarify this, let’s consider the three degrees of the rape of a child under Washington law.
Rape of a child in the First Degree
This offense occurs when there is sexual intercourse and the alleged victim is twelve years of age and the defendant is at least two years older. The rape of a child in the First Degree is a class A felony. The crime carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
Rape of a child in the Second Degree
This is an offense when there is sexual intercourse and the alleged victim is twelve or thirteen years of age and the defendant is at least three years older. Again, this is a class A felony. Like the rape of a child in the First Degree, the rape of a child in the second degree carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
Rape of a child in the Third Degree
This occurs when there is sexual intercourse and the alleged victim is fourteen or fifteen years old and the defendant is at least four years older. The crime is a class C felony. The maximum possible sentence is five years in prison.
Mandatory Sex Offender Registration
In addition to the above penalties, a defendant convicted of rape of a child must register in the Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders who intentionally do not register, or who provide false information when registering, face additional penalties. These can include significant prison time.
There are fewer legal defenses available to those accused of the rape of a child, as compared to the defenses available to defendants charged with rape. Further, only in very limited circumstances can a defendant raise the defense that he did not know the age of the alleged victim. The same holds true for the defense that the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim was older.
With fewer legal defenses available, it’s crucial for persons charged with this crime to contact a highly experienced criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and experience that matters. They are passionate in their defense and tireless in their efforts. If you or a loved one has been charged with the rape of a child, contact them now and get the quality legal representation you deserve.