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Washington Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Sexual assault is catchall phrase used when referring to certain sex crimes such as rape. In Washington, rape is defined forcible sexual intercourse without the other person's consent. The force used can be physical or emotional (threat, intimidation, pressure, coercion).

The law recognizes three different degrees of rape (First, Second and Third) involving forced sexual intercourse. There is also a law called "Indecent Liberties" which prohibits forced sexual conduct that is anything other than sexual intercourse.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington rape and sexual assault laws. See also Rape, Statutory Rape, and Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses .

Code Sections

Chapter 9a.44 RCW

Elements of Rape

Rape: First Degree

Engages in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where the perpetrator:

  • Uses or threatens a weapon or
  • Kidnaps the victim or
  • Inflicts serious physical injury or
  • Enters into a building/ car where the victim is located.

Rape, Second Degree

Engaging in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where:

  • Perpetrator uses forcible compulsion;
  • Victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled.

Rape, Third Degree

Engaging in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent, where:

  • Victim’s lack of consent was expressed by words or conduct or
  • Perpetrator threatens substantial harm to victim’s property.

Indecent Liberties

Engaging in forcible sexual contact without the victim’s consent, where:

  • Perpetrator uses forcible compulsion;
  • Victim is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled.
Penalty

Rape, First and Second Degree: Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Rape, Third Degree: Class C felony, punishable by 5 (five) years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Indecent Liberties: See Class A felony punishment above.

Sexual Intercourse

Penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or an inanimate object, however slight

Sexual Contact

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.

Mandatory Sex Registration?

Sex offenders must, by law, register in the Sex Offender Registry . Sex offenders who intentionally do not comply with the mandatory registration requirements by failing to register or providing false information face serious consequences, including returning to prison or jail.

Resources

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted contact any of the following resources:

If you do find yourself facing a rape charge in Washington, you may wish to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance.

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