Under Washington criminal law, you generally commit the crime of indecent liberties if you have sexual contact with another person and either do so by means of physical force or threats, or when the “victim” is incapable of providing consent. The offense is similar to rape.

Indecent liberties is a serious felony in Washington (as opposed to a misdemeanor) and a conviction could lead to a life term in state prison. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved is being charged with any type of sex crime.

How Does Washington Law Define the Crime of “Indecent Liberties”?

RCW 9A.44.100 is the Washington statute that defines the crime of indecent liberties. Per this law, you commit an offense if you knowingly have sexual contact with another person and do so:

  1. By forcible compulsion,
  2. When the “victim” is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally incapacitated or physically helpless,
  3. When you are a healthcare provider and the “victim” is a client or patient and the sexual contact occurs during a treatment session, consultation, or examination, or
  4. (In some instances) when the “victim” is a resident of a facility for persons with a mental disorder or substance abuse disorder or is a frail elder or vulnerable adult.

A few definitions here are helpful:

  • Sexual contact” means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person that is done for the purpose of gratifying one’s sexual desire, and
  • Forcible compulsion” means physical force which overcomes resistance, or a threat (express or implied) that places a person in fear of death or physical injury to herself or himself or another person.

What are the Penalties?

If you commit indecent liberties by means of forcible compulsion, the crime is charged as a Class A felony and is punishable by:

  • Up to a life term is state prison, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $50,000.

All other instances of indecent liberties are charged as Class B felonies and are punishable by:

  • Up to 10 years in state prison, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $20,000.

In addition to the above penalties, a defendant guilty of indecent liberties must register in Washington’s Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders that intentionally do not register, or that provide false information when registering, face even more penalties. These can include additional prison time.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge an indecent liberties charge with a legal defense. A common defense is to show that your actions did not rise to the level of “sexual contact.” Another defense is to show that the “victim” consented to any sexual contact.

Your criminal defense attorney can also attempt to show that the police somehow violated your rights. For example, maybe the authorities:

  • Arrested you without probable cause,
  • Coerced a confession, or
  • Conducted an unlawful search or seizure.

If any of the above, your lawyer can move to have your charges reduced or dropped.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a charge of indecent liberties, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various charges involving sexual contact. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!

* Main image at top by freepik