What you need to know about a rape allegation and potential consequences
Rape is one of the most serious offenses that any person can get charged with. In Washington, the offense is even more serious and carries life-altering consequences in most cases.
Allegations of rape can be very dangerous because they are prosecuted with firm determination in Washington. Apart from the very real possibility that a person accused of rape may be locked in jail for life, they will most likely lose the trust of their friends and family and have their reputation destroyed.
This shows that an allegation of rape can have lifelong consequences for accused persons. If you have been arrested or charged with offense of rape, you have no time to waste. Pick up your phone and contact an experienced sexual offenses lawyer now.
Once an allegation of rape is made, the police and prosecution immediately begin investigating the case. You should also have someone investigating the case on your behalf and helping you put together a solid defense.
Having served Tukwila and nearby counties as a deputy prosecutor for 14 years, attorney James Curtis has the vigorous training and experience to help you. He has developed a reputation for helping individuals facing the most difficult charges find a positive conclusion/outcome. Contact The Curtis Firm, LLC to speak with former prosecutor James Curtis today.
What is rape under Washington laws?
Washington's rape laws are contained in Chapter 9a.44 of the Revised Code of Washington. The offense of rape is defined under the code as forcible sexual intercourse with another person without their consent.
The basic elements involved in the offense of rape are that there was sexual intercourse, which was forcible or non-consensual. The force used can be physical, in the sense of violence, pressure, coercion; or it could be emotional. The use of threats to force sexual intercourse will also amount to rape.
Sexual intercourse, under the law, takes place once there is penetration, no matter how slight, of the anus, mouth or vagina with the use of a body part or object.
Like many other offenses in Washington, the offense of rape is punished in various degrees, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Rape is specifically punished in the first, second and third degrees, with the first degree being the most serious.
Rape in the third degree
This is the least serious of the rape offenses one may be charged for. The offense is committed when the accused engages in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim's consent where:
- The victim's lack of consent was expressed by words or conduct; or
- The accused threatens substantial harm to the victim's property
Rape in the second degree
When rape in the second degree is committed, the accused engages in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim's consent and:
- Uses forcible compulsion
- The victim is incapable of consent because they are physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled
Rape in the first degree
First degree rape occurs when the accused engages in forcible sexual intercourse without the victim's consent and:
- Uses or threatens to use a weapon;
- Kidnaps the victim;
- Inflicts serious physical injury; or
- Enters into a building or car where the victim is located
Punishment for the offense of rape
Conviction for the offense of rape will result in terribly unpleasant penal consequences including jail terms and fines.
Rape in the third degree is considered to be a Class C felony. It is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in prison. The court may decide to impose either fine, jail sentence or both.
Second degree rape is also a felony, although of a higher Class A degree. It carries the highest punishment available in the state of Washington: a sentence of life in prison and up to $50,000 fines. The court is at liberty to decide whether to impose fines or a jail term or both.
Rape in the first degree is also a Class A felony. It attracts up to life in prison and a fine up to $50,000 or both.
While the legal penalties for the offense of rape are impressive by themselves, the extra-legal consequences of a conviction are arguably even worse. A rape conviction can severely damage a person's reputation, career and prospects. In Washington, it will also result in mandatory sex offender registration, which is just as bad.
Sex offender registration
A person convicted for a sex offense, including rape, will be compelled to register in the state's Sex Offender Registry. Once a person is registered as a sex offender, they become marked, almost for life, as a sexual predator.
Sex offenders will be closely monitored by law enforcement authorities and will be required to provide details of their private life to the authorities on an ongoing basis. They will also be unable to travel out of the state without informing the authorities.
Convicted sex offenders who intentionally fail to comply with the requirement for mandatory registration face equally serious consequences including jail term. Providing false information will also attract severe consequences.
Once registered as a sex offender, finding work or healthy career prospects will become difficult. Housing, insurance, adoption and several other aspects of a person's life may automatically become tainted due to the conviction.
The terrible consequences of a rape conviction highlight the need to immediately contact a skilled sexual offenses lawyer when a charge of rape is brought.
False rape allegations
Attorney James Curtis is well aware of the unfortunate instances where a rape allegation is made falsely. While rape is a terrible offense against any person, what is even worse is intentionally setting the power of the law against another person for selfish or malicious reasons.
It is sad that certain individuals, due to the fact that they misunderstood the nature of a relationship or to score a point, misuse the rape laws against other innocent persons. The accounts of rape victims are often the most difficult to challenge. This is mostly because jurors often have trouble understanding why a person would file a bogus rape complaint.
In his experience as a deputy prosecutor, Mr. Curtis has seen several cases like this and has the deep expertise that can help him recognize and deal with them. The Curtis Firm, LLC can help accused persons conduct detailed investigations into the circumstances of the allegations and help uncover false, or malicious allegations.
Rape shield laws
One of the things that sexual assault defense attorneys have to think about in defending a rape charge is what is known as rape shield laws. These laws exist in almost all states, including Washington, and at the federal level, under the Violence Against Women Act.
A rape shield law prevents certain evidence from getting heard in court, during the trial. It limits the circumstances where evidence of prior sexual conduct can be raised and heard in a rape trial.
While this law helps limit the focus on irrelevant issues such as a rape victim's past, it can serve as a bar to important evidence that could help the defense. This is dangerous as it can lead to the conviction of an innocent person.
The Curtis Firm, LLC is well aware of these laws and has had cause to go up against them on several occasions. We understand the reach of these laws and know exactly how to work around them to help our clients' cases.
Contact a skilled Washington sexual offenses attorney
As soon as a rape allegation is made, the clock starts ticking. Make sure you have an experienced attorney working on your behalf from then on.
A rape allegation can ruin your personal and professional life. Prevent this by swiftly contacting experienced Washington rape defense attorney, James Curtis, for a relentless defense against these allegations. Contact The Curtis Firm, LLC at 253-327-1063 today to set up a free, no obligation case review.