Share on Facebook In Washington, it is illegal for an adult someone 18 or older to have sex with a minor someone younger than 16 , even if the sex is consensual. The state also forbids certain sexual contact and intercourse between minors who are more than a certain number of years apart in age. Those who break the law have committed statutory rape. For more information on statutory rape and the history of this crime, see Statutory Rape Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities.
The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age for example, two teenagers of the same age , as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult. Though statutory rape does not require that the prosecutor prove an assault, it is still rape.
Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in Washington and prosecuted as forcible rape see Washington Sexual Battery Laws. And for information about rape between spouses, see Washington Marital Rape Laws. Penalties depend on the age of the parties and the type of sexual contact that occurred, as described below.
First degree rape of a child occurs when there is sexual intercourse sexual penetration, however slight, with an object or body part between a minor who is 11 or younger, and a defendant who is at least two years older than the minor. Second degree rape of a child occurs when there is sexual intercourse between a minor who is 12 or 13, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the minor. Third degree rape of a child occurs when there is sexual intercourse between a minor who is 14 or 15, and a defendant who is at least four years older than the minor.
First degree child molestation occurs when there is sexual contact sexual touching, even over clothing, without penetration between a minor who is 11 or younger, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the minor. Second degree child molestation occurs when there is sexual contact between a minor who is 12 or 13, and a defendant who is at least three years older than the minor. Third degree child molestation occurs when there is sexual contact between a minor who is 14 or 15, and a defendant who is at least four years older than the minor.
Mistake of age Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they had no reason to know that their partner was underage. They may argue that the victim herself represented that she was older than she was, and that a reasonable person would have believed her. But in Washington, even a reasonable mistake as to the victim's age will not be a defense to a charge of statutory rape.
In Washington, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between a minor younger than 12 and another minor who is not more than two years older three years older for sexual contact without penetration.
It also includes a minor who is 12 or 13 and another minor who is not more than three years older four years for sexual contact without penetration.
And it also covers a minor who is 14 or 15 who has sex or sexual contact with someone who four or fewer years older than that minor. Statutory rape marital exemption Washington has a marital exemption for statutory rape, which allows consensual sex between a married 16 or 17 year old and the adult spouse, even though their ages would prohibit it if they were not married. Minors are legally incapable of giving consent to having sex; so for example, if Jen, a 14 year old willingly has sex with Tony, her 19 year old boyfriend, Tony can be charged with rape, since Jen is not legally capable of giving consent in the first place.
But if Jen and Tony are married and living in Washington, Tony need not fear criminal charges for having consensual sex with Jen. However, if Tony were to rape Jen force her to have sex against her will , he would have no protection under the law even if the two are married. See a Lawyer If you are facing a statutory rape charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area.
A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties such as, for example, probation instead of prison time ; and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.