Luring in Washington State: Definition, Charges & Defenses

luring a minor

“Luring” is one of those criminal charges that take people by surprise. You can be charged with luring a minor or a person with a developmental disability without any harm having happened to the alleged victim. In other words, you can be charged with luring when, in your mind, you’ve done nothing wrong.

In Washington state, it can happen, and it’s incredibly serious. With your entire future and reputation on the line, you have two choices: sit back and watch your future crumble or fight back.

Will & Will is here to help you with the second option. Read on to learn more about what luring means in Washington state, the penalties you could face, and the defenses you can use. Reach out to our defense attorneys today to get started on getting your reputation and life back.

What Luring Means in Washington State

What does it mean to “lure” someone? It means you are trying to tempt another person to go somewhere or do something, often by offering some kind of reward. That basic definition applies to luring a minor in Washington state, but the legal definition of this crime is a bit more complex.

To be charged with luring, you must have had an “intent to harm the health, safety, or welfare” of the alleged victim, according to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.40.100. On top of that, the alleged victim must have been a minor younger than the age of 16 or a person with a developmental disability.

That’s a fairly broad definition, but there are some other details that can narrow the focus of this charge. For instance, it’s not technically luring if you entice a minor to walk over to the part of the public sidewalk you are standing on. It’s only luring if you entice a minor or person with a developmental disability to:

  • Enter a building or area that isn’t public
  • Enter a building or area that is mostly hidden from view
  • Enter a car or other vehicle
  • Leave a travel terminal, such as a bus stop or airport

In addition, the alleged victim of luring must be someone you don’t know. If they’re a family friend or familiar, asking them to go somewhere is not considered luring under state law. If you have the consent of the victim’s guardian, your actions also won’t be considered luring.

Penalties for Luring in Washington State

The definition of luring a minor can be a lot to take in. It’s complicated, and there are several factors that could affect whether your actions are actually criminal. But what you should know right away is this: if you are charged with luring, you are charged with a Class C felony.

Why do you need to know that? Because it defines the penalties you might face if you are convicted. In Washington state, a Class C felony is punishable by:

  • As long as five years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Despite the statutory maximums, Washington State operates under sentencing guidelines, and as an “unranked felony,” luring would carry a sentence of 0-364 days in jail if it is the only crime you are convicted of and there are no enhancements.

To put it bluntly, these penalties could ruin your life for the foreseeable future. That’s why so many people who find themselves in this situation team up with a criminal defense lawyer to fight their luring charge.

Types of Conduct That Could Lead to a Luring Charge

Luring a minor or person with a developmental disability is illegal. That much is clear. But what kinds of conduct can actually lead to a luring charge? Unfortunately, many actions that seem more or less harmless to some people can lead to this charge.

Some examples of conduct that could leave you with a luring charge include the following:

Offering a ride

If you don’t know a child or person with a developmental disability and offer them a ride home or to somewhere else in your car, you could be charged with luring. However, the key here is what your intent was in offering the ride. If your intentions were good, you haven’t actually committed a crime, but you may still be charged with one.

Trying to have a conversation

Sadly, even a simple conversation can be misinterpreted as a crime in some cases. If you are trying to speak with a minor or person with a developmental disability and ask or motion to them to go somewhere that isn’t public, you might have a serious legal problem on your hands.

Again, it’s all about what your intentions were. If a simple conversation was all it was going to be, you aren’t guilty of luring. But you will have to convince the court or prosecutor of that.

Offering help

It’s our natural reaction to offer help when someone is in need — especially if that person is a child or person with a developmental disability. The hard truth is that offering help to someone like this can be criminalized if someone else misunderstands what happened.

These actions can get you charged with luring, but that doesn’t mean you actually lured the child, intended to harm them, or anything like that. The broad definition of this criminal charge and the choice by some police officers and prosecutors to weaponize it against innocent people can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and confusion.
One of the best ways to beat a luring charge is to clear up that confusion with the help of an experienced defense attorney.

Is Luring Considered a Sex Offense in Washington State?

Luring by itself is not listed as a sex offense under Washington state law. That’s good news because it means you won’t have to register as a sex offender if you are convicted of luring.

However, if prosecutors also allege that there is sexual motivation behind the luring, then that would turn luring into a sex offense and require you to register as a sex offender for 10-years in Washington State if convicted. It would also add an additional 12-months of prison time to any sentence you receive, that would be required to run concurrent to any other sentence.

If you are concerned that your charges might be misconstrued as sex offenses, reach out to a defense lawyer who can help you understand your situation.

How to Defend Yourself After Being Accused of Luring

Earlier, we said you have a choice to make if you’ve been charged with luring a minor. You do. You can either fight back by defending yourself or sit back and let your charge turn into a conviction. In almost every case, fighting back is the right choice. But how, exactly, do you do that? Here are some do’s and don’ts after being charged with luring:

  • Do contact a lawyer.
  • Don’t contact the alleged victim or accuser — even to explain your actions.
  • Do preserve any evidence that shows your innocence.
  • Don’t speak to police or prosecutors without your lawyer present.

When you contact your lawyer, one of the first things you will discuss is the defense you could use in your case. Every situation calls for a different defense, but some common defenses against luring charges include the following:

  • Showing that you had the consent of the victim’s guardian to give them a ride or speak with them
  • Showing that your intent was not malicious in any way
  • Showing that you have been mistaken for someone else
  • Showing that you do know the alleged victim if they claim they didn’t know you

Our attorneys can help you build the strongest defense for your unique case.

Have You Been Accused of Luring? Will & Will Can Defend You

Luring a minor is a serious charge in Washington state. There’s no other way to say it: Your future is on the line. At Will & Will, we understand how serious your situation is and how stressed you are. We’re here to help.

Over our decades of experience, we have helped countless people in situations like yours. With advanced knowledge of state law and criminal defense and strong legal skills, we can fight for you and give you the best possible shot at preserving your future.

If you work with our legal team, you’re family. And we’ll fight for you like family. If you’re ready to join the family, reach out to our firm. Call us at 206-209-5585 or contact us online today.

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