Understanding rape charges in the state of Washington

When people allegedly engage in forced or non-consensual sexual intercourse with others, they may be charged with rape, an offense with serious penalties.

Allegations of sex offenses, including rape, are investigated and prosecuted enthusiastically in Washington, and elsewhere. As such, it is important for people to have an understanding of rape charges in the state, as well as the potential consequences of such offenses. This may help them to protect themselves, and their futures.

In general, sexual intercourse that is not consensual, or that is forced, may constitute rape in Washington. State law defines sexual intercourse as any penetration, whether by an object, body part or sex organ, or as sexual contact involving people's sex organs and the anuses or mouths of others. Depending on the circumstances, people may be charged with first degree, second degree or third degree rape.

Rape in the first degree

According to the Revised Code of Washington, first-degree rape occurs when people forcibly compel others to engage in sexual intercourse. Furthermore, one of the following circumstances must exist in order to constitute this heightened level offense:

  • The alleged perpetrator kidnapped the purported victim
  • The ostensible perpetrator used, or threatened to use, a deadly weapon
  • The purported victim suffered serious physical injury

Additionally, cases in which people illegally enter a building or vehicle where the purported victims were prior to alleged sexual assaults may also qualify as first-degree rape.

In the state of Washington, rape in the first degree is considered a class A felony offense. Those who are convicted of this type of sex crime may be sentenced to a maximum term of life in prison. People may alternatively, or additionally, be fined up to $50,000.

Rape in the second degree

In cases when the qualifications for first-degree rape are not met, people who engage in forcible sexual intercourse with others may be charged with rape in the second degree. When the purported victims are mentally incapacitated, physically helpless, or are vulnerable or frail adults, people may be charged with this level offense. Additionally, health care professionals who are accused of having non-consensual intercourse with a patient during an interview, examination, consultation or treatment session may be charged with rape in the second degree.

Alleged rapes in which the supposed victims are developmentally disabled, or are residents of facilities for those with chemical dependencies or mental disorders, may constitute second-degree rape. This is the case when the alleged perpetrators are not married to the ostensible victims, and they had supervisory authority over them, were providing transportation to them when the asserted offense occurred or had a significant relationship with them. Like first-degree rape, rape in the second degree is a class A felony offense, and is punishable by the same penalties.

Rape in the third degree

Under state law, those who engage in sexual intercourse with others who do not consent may face charges of rape in the third degree. This is the case in situations when the circumstances for first-degree or second-degree rape are not met. Additionally, purported rapes in which there are threats of significant unlawful harm to the victims' property rights may qualify as this level offense.

Rape in the third degree is charged as a class C felony. By law, this offense is punishable by up to five years in prison. Furthermore, those convicted of third-degree felony may be fined a maximum of $10,000.

Obtain legal counsel

Facing allegations of rape may have life changing ramifications for people in Spokane, and throughout Washington. As such, those who have been charged with this, or other sexual offenses, may find it of benefit to work with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to build a strong criminal defense, as well as understand their rights and options.