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Washington State Sex Crimes Overview

Posted by attorney Jose Masso

Washington’s sex offense statutes can be divided into four categories based on the nature of the contact between the alleged perpetrator and victim.

1. Crimes Involving Sexual Intercourse

The first category involves sexual intercourse, and includes the crimes of Rape in the 1st Degree (force is used), Rape in the 2nd Degree (threat of force is used or consent not given), and Incest in the 1st Degree (individuals are related). Rape in the 1st Degree is a Class A felony, Rape in the 2nd Degree is a Class A felony, and Incest in the 1st Degree is a Class B felony.

2. Crimes Involving Sexual Contact and No Intercourse

The second category of Washington sex crimes involves sexual contact only. This category consists of the crimes of Incest in the 2nd Degree and Indecent Liberties (contact through force, incapacity, mental disability, or medical treatment). Incest in the 2nd Degree is a Class C felony and Indecent Liberties is a Class B felony.

3. Crimes Involving Sexual Communications Only

The third category of Washington sex crimes pertains to sexual communications only. The sole crime in this category is Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes. The crime occurs when a defendant communicates directly with a person under 18 years of age, expressing sexual intent for the purposes of sexual gratification. This crime is punishable as a gross misdemeanor if a defendant does not have any prior convictions for sex crimes. If there are prior convictions, the crime is punishable as a Class C felony.

4. Crimes Against Minors

The final category of Washington sex crimes concerns acts done against minors. This category includes crimes involving intercourse, such as Rape of a Child in the 1st Degree (offender at least 16, victim less than 12), Rape of a Child in the 2nd Degree (offender at least 18, victim at least 12 but less than 14), Rape of a Child in the 3rd Degree (offender at least 48 months older than victim, victim at least 16 but less than 18), and Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the 1st Degree (offender at least 60 months older than victim and in a supervisory position, victim at least 16 but less than 18). Rape of a Child in the 1st and 2nd Degree is punishable as a Class A felony. Rape of a Child in the 3rd Degree and Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the 1st Degree are both C felonies.

Sexual contact with a minor is additionally included in this final category. These crimes include Child Molestation in the 1st Degree (offender at least 36 months older than victim, victim less than 12), Child Molestation in the 2nd Degree (offender at least 36 months older than victim, victim at least 12 but older than 14), Child Molestation in the 3rd Degree (offender at least 48 months older than victim, victim at least 16 but less than 18), and Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the 2nd Degree (offender at least 60 months older than victim and in a supervisory position, victim at least 16 but less than 18). Child Molestation in the 1st Degree is a Class A felony, Child Molestation in the 2nd Degree is a Class B felony, Child Molestation in the 3rd Degree is a Class C felony, and Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the 2nd Degree is a gross misdemeanor.

5. Punishments

The possible punishments for the above crimes are as follows: Class A felonies are punishable by a prison term of up to life and/or a fine in the amount of up to $50,000. Class B felonies are punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years and/or a fine in the amount $20,000. Finally, Class C felonies are punishable by a prison of up to 5 years and/or a fine in the amount of $10,000. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by no more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or a fine in the amount of up to $5,000. In addition to the prison terms and fine amounts, a convicted defendant may, and usually must, be required to register as a sexual offender.

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