Skip to main content

What kind of proof do you have to have to convict someone with Rape in the second degree in WA state?

Seattle, WA |

When it's his word against her word, what kind of proof do you need to convict a person for that charge? And what is worst case sentencing?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4


Testimony from the victim is all that is needed to prove the charge. However, other types of evidence such as DNA evidence, medical examinations, eye witnesses, etc. would certainly strengthen the prosecutions case. The prosecutor needs to prove that the rape occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury can be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the rape based solely off of the alleged victims testimony, then that is the only evidence that is needed.

2nd Degree Rape is a Class A felony in Washington and is punishable up to life in prison. so the "worst case sentencing" is life in prison.

In Washington, felony sentences are determined by a sentencing grid that is based off of a person's offender score and the seriousness level of the offense. The offender score is based off of the the defendant's criminal history. Without knowing the defendant's offender score, it is impossible to determine the standard sentencing range.

2nd Degree Rape has a seriousness level of XI, so if the defendant had no prior criminal history and had an offender score of 0, the standard range would be 78-102 months.


The information previously provided to you is correct. In rape cases, (and in most assault cases for that matter), the law states that the testimony of the complaining witness is legally sufficient to convict provided that the jury believes that that testimony proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The law does not require that there be physical evidence. There are very good reasons for that as it would be grossly unfair to require a rape victim to have to fight with her attacker in order to sustain injuries to prove that she had been assaulted and raped. However, if the complainant has made statements that would permit a reasonable person to expect there to be certain physical findings that were not found, those would be details that an attorney would raise in order to cast doubt on the credibility of the complaining witness. Laws vary from state to state and as I do not practice in Washington I am not in a position to provide you with an informed answer as to a possible sentence.


Another important point to consider is that Rape 2 is a crime that is subject to "determinate plus" sentencing. The Sentencing Reform Act was part of a nationwide effort to eliminate the old parole system, where people used to be sentenced to an indeterminate term and then released by a parole board when the parole board felt it was time. That resulted in wildly disproportionate sentences for people convicted of the same offense, and usually worse for persons of color or lack of means, for example. The SRA got rid of that system and replaced it with a "determinate sentencing" system that uses the grid mentioned by counsel above. Most sentences are now "determinate".

The exception: sex cases. In certain cases (and Rape 2 is one of them), you can be sentenced to life in prison and then it will be left up to the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board (the ISRB) to determine when you are released. The bad news for people who are innocent is that the ISRB may require you to successfully complete a sex offender treatment program in prison before you can be considered for release, and if you continue to maintain your innocence, you will never pass such "treatment", and you may never be released. So the innocent guy who is wrongfully convicted based on a woman's false charges that are believed by a jury, suffers a real chance that he will never get out. Washington state makes sex crimes, in that sense, a one-strike offense.

Don't mess around by assuming what will happen. Get a lawyer asap. Good luck..


The prior answers are correct that the "proof" in a "she says-he says" case becomes a matter of whether the jury believes the complaining witness beyond a reasonable doubt. No additional evidence is required.

The sentencing law, however, REQUIRES the court to sentence a person convicted of rape in the second degree to life in prison, and to set a minimum term to be served before the parole board may consider releasing you. This is the requirement if the offense occurred after August 31, 2001.

Please also be aware that rape in the second degree can be committed in a number of ways: by forcible compulsion; when the victim is incapable of consent (physically helpless or mentally incapacitated -- which has been interpreted to include too drunk or even asleep); when the victim has a developmental disability if committed by a person with supervisory authority or who is transporting the person; by any health care provider of a client or patient if intercourse occurs within a treatment session, etc.; and additional qualifiers for residents of facilities for persons with mental disorders, chemical dependency, or the victim is a frail elder or vulnerable adult.

It also is important to know that "sexual intercourse" is defined by statute to include some acts that not everyone would consider to be "intercourse."

If someone has brought any sort of accusation against you for anything like rape in the second degree, it is crucial that you retain counsel immediately and begin to learn the consequences, the possible options, and what you can do to meet the charge. It is important to put together the small pieces of evidence to give the jury -- or the investigating detective, or the prosecutor -- a reason to believe you as soon as possible.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer