According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, there was a total of 734,630 self-reported allegations of rape/sexual assault in 2018. However, research shows that false allegations of sexual assault make up somewhere between 2% and 10% of reports. This is a scary statistic when you apply real numbers to these percentages. It means that between 14,692 and 73,463 people were falsely accused in 2018 alone.
So why do false allegations happen? Three common reasons include:
- Retaliation from the alleged victim reacting to a dispute the two of you had.
- Another reason you have been accused could be due to mistaken identity. Perhaps the alleged victim believes you are the perpetrator, but is merely mistaken.
- Last but not least, the alleged victim may be embarrassed. Perhaps s/he consented, but later regretted the decision. In this instance, the alleged victim could be lying to avoid embarrassment.
If you are falsely accused of rape, what should you do? Keep reading to find out.
Sexual intercourse involves any penetration, however slight, in the vagina or anus by an object or by another person. Sexual intercourse can also involve contact between a person’s mouth and another person’s sex organ (RCW 9A.44.010). When any of these acts happen through force and/or without the consent of the other person, the act is defined as rape.
Additionally, Washington state’s age of consent is 16 years old. Therefore, if you have sexual intercourse with an individual who is under 16, you can be charged with statutory rape (rape of a child) even if no force was used.
What to Do When You Are Falsely Accused of Rape
1. Understand the Weight of the Accusation
An accusation of rape is extremely serious. If you do not adequately dispute the claims effectively, you could end up with a substantial sentence to jail or prison and be required to register as a sex offender. Therefore, the first step after an accusation is to understand the weight of your situation.
Below, you will find a chart that outlines the different degrees of rape and their potential penalties in the state of Washington.
|Crime + Degree||Definition||Severity of Crime||Maximum Penalty|
|Rape in the first degree (RCW 9A.44.040)||When a person forces another person to engage in sexual intercourse and the perpetrator (1) uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon, (2) kidnaps the victim, inflicts serious injury, or (3) feloniously enters into a building or vehicle where the victim is situated.||Class A Felony||Life in prison and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Rape in the second degree (RCW 9A.44.050)||When a person engages in sexual intercourse with another (1) by forcible compulsion, (2) when the victim is incapable of consent because they are physically helpless or mentally incapable, or (3) when the victim has a developmental disability and the perpetrator is not married to the victim but (a) has supervisory authority over the victim, (b) was providing transportation to the victim, or (c) when the perpetrator is a healthcare provider and the victim is a client or patient.||Class A Felony||Life in prison and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Rape in the third degree (RCW 9A.44.060)||When a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person and (1) the victim did not consent or (2) there is a threat of substantial unlawful harm to property rights of the victim.||Class C Felony||Five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000|
|Rape of a child in the first degree (RCW 9A.44.073)||When a person has sexual intercourse with a minor who is under 12 years old||Class A Felony||Life in prison and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Rape of a child in the second degree (RCW 9A.44.076)||When a person has sexual intercourse with a minor who is at least 12 years old but less than 14 years old||Class B Felony||Ten years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000|
|Rape of a child in the third degree (RCW 9A.44.079)||When a person has sexual intercourse with a minor who is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old||Class C Felony||Five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000|
NOTE: If you are convicted of rape in the first degree, you will not be granted a deferred or suspended sentence except for the purpose of commitment to an inpatient treatment facility. In this situation, the convicted individual must remain in confinement for a minimum of three years without exception (RCW 9A.44.045).
2. Contact an Attorney
Now that you are aware of the possible penalties of a rape conviction, you will need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better.
Your attorney will gather evidence regarding your case and create an action plan to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the best outcome possible in the case. Your attorney will guide you through every step of the process so you can achieve a successful outcome.
In the end, you need an attorney that understands how to navigate the allegations against you and create an effective defense.
3. Don’t Speak to the Police Without Representation
If you are questioned by the police before you have contacted an attorney or without your attorney present, do not divulge any unnecessary information.
After the accusations are reported, the police are likely to try to find you as quickly as possible. The officers will either take you to or request that you go to a police station where you will be questioned about the situation.
Though you may be outraged, shocked, or upset about the false accusations, be aware that anything you say could be misinterpreted or used against you in court. Be cooperative with the police, but politely ask to speak with your attorney immediately.
Your attorney will protect you against any potentially self-incriminating evidence that might be used against you in court.
Additionally, know that you have the right to call a lawyer while you are at the police station, and you do not have to speak without a lawyer present.
4. Stay Away From the Alleged Victim
You may be tempted to contact the accuser to work something out. However, this could make the situation much worse.
For one, you could exacerbate the situation. The accuser could accuse you of intimidating him/her or trying to silence him/her. Additionally, when one person accuses another of rape, tensions are likely high, and emotions run strong. Because of this, any attempt to contact the accuser could result in the situation escalating and getting out of hand, making your case worse.
If you cannot stay away from the accuser due to child custody arrangements or employment, try to have a third-party individual present in order to act as your witness and limit communication whenever possible.
5. Create a Detailed Account of Events and Witnesses
Last but not least, provide your criminal defense attorney with all the information you have revolving around the rape accusations. Include any details you feel may help the case, such as a timeline of events leading up to the accusation, your alibi (if any), and any possible witnesses that could vouch for you. Don’t hold back any information that could help your case!
Memories can fade, and you may not remember all the details later, so documenting everything as soon as possible can be invaluable to the case. When writing this information down, be sure to write at the top of the page, “ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION.”
Falsely Accused of Rape? Contact an Expert Attorney
If you’ve been falsely accused of rape, the sex crime defense attorneys at Will & Will can help you!
Will & Will has over 35 years of combined experience, successfully defending individuals against sex crime charges. This dedicated husband and wife team promise to personally work one-on-one with you to create a detailed action plan for your defense and get you the results you deserve.