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Communicating w/ a minor for immoral purposes? How does it work?

Seattle, WA |
Filed under: Criminal defense

For a relationship between a 19 year old and 15 year old, I know that RCW 9A.44.089 and RCW 9A.44.079 say that as long as the the "perpetrator" isn't over 48 months older than the "victim" then sexual contact is fully legal. But I'm curious about this other statute:

"RCW 9.68A.090, Communication with minor for immoral purposes", would the 19 year old get in trouble for that? Say that the communication w/ the minor wasn't for an immoral purpose but for an actual relationship and sexual contact happens as part of that relationship. I'm confused on how this statute works. "Immoral purposes" aren't clearly defined so can someone clarify what it means?

Thank you for your time.

Attorney Answers 1


I don't know that I can categorically answer your question in this setting. However, there is an appellate court opinion that holds if the "purpose" of the communication is itself legal, then it cannot be "immoral." The case involved an older adult proposing sexual contact with a 16-year-old, who was of the age of consent.

If you have more specific questions or want a fuller discussion of the certainty and uncertainty of this law, I urge you to retain counsel to research the question and consult with you regarding the facts of your situation. The laws are complex and the consequences can be very serious.

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what was the outcome of the case you referred to? Older adult commiunicating with a 16 year-old (of legal consent age in WA). My 22 yr-old son is dating a 16 yr old girl and I am sure some of heir communication (text, chat) is of this nature.

Lenell Rae Nussbaum

Lenell Rae Nussbaum


In the case I referred to, the Court of Appeals reversed a conviction for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. However, in recent years many more laws have been passed restricting various interactions between adults and minors, and some of them apply to anyone under 18 instead of 16. For example, although a 16 year old can consent to have sex with most adults, he or she cannot consent to sex with an adult in certain positions such as a teacher. Possession of sexually explicit images of someone under 18 is a crime, no matter who possesses it, even if the 16-year-old provides it of himself or herself. Therefore I recommend if there are concerns that you retain counsel to research the specific facts involved.

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