Seattle Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys

You’ve been arrested for a sex crime.

Now what?


We’re betting you have several burning questions you want answered, which is why we created this page. Here you’ll find simple and straightforward answers to the questions that really matter to you right now. Despite this, the best way to make sure all of your questions are answered is to simply pick up the phone and give us a call for a free confidential consultation.

Court Will - seattle criminal defense attorney on phone

Court and Michelle developed a specialty representing those accused of sex crimes through their involvement with Dateline NBC’s To Catch A Predator show. Court was the first attorney in the country to take one of these cases to trial. Read about Court’s success with this first case here.

seattle criminal defense attorney on to catch a predator


 Common Sex Crime Questions

I’ve been accused of a sex crime where It’s just the accuser’s word against mine, how can I be prosecuted?
Under the law, no physical evidence is needed for many sex crimes, and no corroboration is needed for the accuser’s story. If the police/prosecutor believe your accuser, charges will get filed.
What offenses are considered to be “sex crimes?”

A little further down on this page you can read a few brief descriptions about some of the more common sex crimes in Washington. You can also see what sex crimes require registration on this page as well. For now, here is list of some of the more common sex crimes we see in Washington:

  • Rape 1, 2, & 3
  • Rape of a Child 1, 2, 3
  • Child Molestation 1, 2, 3
  • Sexual Misconduct with a Minor 1, 2
  • Indecent Liberties
  • Voyeurism
  • Failure to register as a sex offender
  • Communication with a minor for immoral purposes
  • Possession of depictions of Minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct 1, 2
What has to be proven against me to be convicted?
This of course depends on what charge you are facing. The best way to determine exactly what has to be proven is to look at the Washington Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions. These instructions list out an element by element breakdown of exactly what has to be proven against you for particular offenses. Rather than try to decipher this for yourself, simply give us a call and we will explain everything.
What defenses are available for Sex Crimes?

Two basic defenses are (1) a general denial of all allegations, or (2) you lacked the necessary intent or knowledge required to be considered guilty of what you have been accused of.

For intent/knowledge, there are ‘affirmative’ defenses for certain sex crimes. Ordinarily, the defendant has no burden of proof whatsoever, meaning that you are presumed innocent and it is up to the State of Washington to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest standard of evidence that exists in the law). However, an ‘affirmative’ defense is an exception to this general rule. When applicable, if a defendant is making particular claims, he or she has the burden of proving these assertions to a jury by a ‘preponderance of the evidence.’ This is a much lower standard than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’

An example of this can be found in a case of a charge Indecent Liberties where this issue is whether the accuser had the capacity to consent:

RCW 9A.44.030(1) In any prosecution under this chapter in which lack of consent is based solely upon the victim's mental incapacity or upon the victim's being physically helpless, it is a defense which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that at the time of the offense the defendant reasonably believed that the victim was not mentally incapacitated and/or physically helpless.

What happens if I’m convicted?

The consequences of a conviction vary greatly depending on the charge and other circumstances. We list some potential consequences here, but in order to get the more specific answers about your particular case, simply pick up the phone and give us a call.

  • Jail/Prison Sentence
  • Registration as a sex offender
  • Felony Conviction, leading to loss of rights such a voting and possession of firearms
  • Formal probation/Community Custody
  • Counseling/therapy
  • Alternative sentencing such as work release, electronic home monitoring, and/or community service
  • Fines
  • Loss of job
Will I have to register as a sex offender? If so, for how long?

That depends on whether you are convicted of a sex crime and what that sex crime is. Further, Washington State has the following different levels of registration: Lifetime, Indefinite, 15 years, and 10 years. The duty to register begins after you are convicted and released from custody. Here are the lists:

Lifetime Registration
  • Determined to be a Sexually Violent Predator
  • Indecent Liberties – With Forcible Compulsion (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
  • Rape 1 (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
  • Rape 2 – With Forcible Compulsion (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
Indefinite Registration
  • Assault 2 with Sexual Motivation
  • Child Molestation 1 (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
  • Kidnapping 2 with Sexual Motivation
  • Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
  • Rape 2 – Without Forcible Compulsion (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
  • Rape of a Child 1 & 2 (Including Attempt & Solicitation)
  • Any sex or kidnapping offense where defendant has one or more prior conviction for a sex or kidnapping offense
15 Year Registration
  • Child Molestation 2
  • Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
  • Dealing in Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 1
  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (third or subsequent violation committed on or after 6/10/2010
  • Incest 1
  • Indecent Liberties – Without Forcible Compulsion
  • Possession of Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 1
  • Promoting Prostitution 1
  • Sending, Bringing into the State Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 1
  • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
  • Viewing Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 1
10 Year Registration
  • Child Molestation 3
  • Communication with Minor for Immoral Purposes (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Criminal Trespass Against Children
  • Custodial Sexual Misconduct 1
  • Dealing in Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 2
  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (Second violation committed on or after 6/10/2010)
  • Incest 2
  • Possession of Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 2
  • Promoting Prostitution 2
  • Rape 3
  • Rape of Child 3
  • Sending, Bringing into the State Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 2
  • Sexual Misconduct with Minor 1 & 2
  • Sexually Violating Human Remains
  • Viewing Depictions of Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct 2
  • Voyeurism
  • Attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit a class C sex offense
What are some of the potential results I can expect?
Because every case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances, it’s not possible for us to tell you what result you will get on your particular case until we have had a chance to fully litigate it. That said, here are some potential results; all of which we have achieved for our clients:
  • Dismissal of charges in the pre-trial stages
  • Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA)
  • Reduction of charges
  • First Time Offender Waiver (if no prior record)
  • Reduction of penalties
  • Not guilty verdict after trial
  • Hung Jury leading to Mistrial
  • Guilty verdict after trial
Simply give us a call for a full explanation of what these outcomes mean and how we can achieve them.
Will I be labeled a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP)?
Washington has some of the strongest sex offender registration and notification laws in the nation and was the first state to implement involuntary civil commitment for what the state labels the “most dangerous sexual predators.” After you are convicted of a sex crime and get sentenced to prison, if you are labeled as a “Level 3 offender” (the highest risk of reoffending) then prior to your release from custody, you must undergo a review to determine whether or not you should be referred for possible civil commitment to the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center (SCC) as a sexually violent predator. Washington State law defines an SVP as any person:
  • Who has been convicted of or charged with a crime of sexual violence; and
  • Who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder;
  • Which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.
If a judge finds offenders meet this criteria, they are held indefinitely at the SCC until their mental condition improves such that they may be released into society. If you are in danger of an SVP commitment, contact us so we can talk to you about how we can help you try to avoid this.
I’ve heard that I should get something called a “Psychosexual Evaluation.” What is this and should I do it?
A Psychosexual evaluation is when you sit down with psychologist to undergo questioning and testing, including a “sexual history” polygraph. There are a few doctors in Washington that are highly respected by the courts and prosecutor’s alike. You have to pay for these evaluations separately and it’s important to know that you are not paying the doctor to write a favorable report for you. Rather, the report will be an honest evaluation based on their professional opinions. Thus, it’s important to be be prepared for these interviews and also know when it’s a good idea NOT to do them. There are number of other important things to discuss in relation to these tests, and we would be happy to do so as part of a free consultation.
What is Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) and do I qualify?

SSOSA is essentially a way to avoid a potentially lengthy prison sentence by undergoing treatment instead (although you could still be facing up to a year in county jail). In addition to possible county jail, a sentence to state prison will also be imposed, but it gets “suspended” pending successful completion of treatment (meaning you never have to serve the prison sentence).

Many sex crimes could potentially qualify for SSOSA, but not Rape 2 nor any other sex offense that is also considered to be a “serious violent offense.” If you are eligible based on your alleged offense, you must also meet the following criteria:

  • If the conviction is a result of a guilty plea, you must fully admit that you committed the crime alleged.  In other words, you cannot enter a plea of “no contest”
  • No prior convictions for a sex crime
  • No violent crime convictions within the past five years
  • No substantial bodily harm to the victim
  • The victim was not a stranger to you; there was some sort of established relationship/connection to the victim
  • Your standard sentencing range for the offense you are convicted of includes the possibility of less than 11 years in prison

It’s important to note that even if you are eligible for SSOSA, it does not mean you will get it, or that you even want to get it for that matter. It takes an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and then give you advice as to whether SSOSA is a good option for you or not. If it is, then we will make sure all the appropriate steps are being taken to give you the best possible chance of getting this resolution.


 Other Common Questions

I have a court date coming up ASAP, what do I do?!?
Hire an attorney! Is this answer self-serving? Yes. Despite this, is it still the best possible thing you can do? YES.
What can I do to help my case?
There are a number of things you can do to help your case. We will direct you on how to do each of the following:
  • Don’t talk to anyone about it besides your attorney
  • Obtain a private polygraph examination
  • Have a private psychosexual evaluation
  • Gather character reference letters
  • Provide us with a confidential and detailed version of events
  • Provide us with your own mini autobiography so we can know as much as possible about you
I’m innocent! Should I take a polygraph? What if I fail?
First, never, and we mean never, take a polygraph test with the police. That said, it can very often be beneficial to take a private polygraph test that is fact specific. In other words, one that goes straight to the heart of the matter.
The police want to talk to me to get my side of the story. Should I speak with them?
No. End of discussion. Contact an attorney immediately if the police want to talk to you.
Do you exclusively handle Sex cases?
No, we don’t play marketing games like some other attorneys out there. We’re well-rounded and handle ALL criminal matters. However, due to our success and subsequent media attention regrading sex crimes we have handled, our caseload always consists of a number or felony and misdemeanor sex crimes matters. Our secret to success with sex cases is simple: we focus on what matters the most – getting you the best possible outcome.
What can you promise me?
You’re not going to find a more qualified team to represent you, and we are going to get you the best possible result given the facts and circumstances of your particular case. We work really hard and are very accessible to our clients. Try calling or texting us right now; if we don’t pick up right away, we will get back to you very fast.
How will you get me the best possible result?

The short answer is through hard work. Here’s a little closer look:

Some of the legal issues we analyze while handling your case:

  • Inconsistent statements made by the accuser
  • Lack of physical evidence to support accuser’s claims
  • Determination of whether any incriminating statements you made were in violation of your Miranda Rights
  • Legality of any search & seizure issues
  • Collecting additional witness statements that support our theory of the case

Some of the mitigating factors we introduce and discuss during negotiation:

  • Humanize you to the prosecutor; we want to know everything about you. Give us your life story. We will memorize it and then be able to talk to the prosecutor very intelligently about you; as if we have known you for years.
  • Gather a bunch of character reference letters for you.
  • Depending on the circumstances, get proactive and have you undergo counseling at the early stages of the case.
  • Explain the impact this matter will have on your job and family.
If I retain your services, are you going to get my charges reduced or dismissed?
The only answer I can give you at this point is “it depends…” I know, not totally satisfying, but it is honest. If another attorney promises you more than that, then they are just trying to take your money. Get out of their office (or hang up the phone) as fast as you can.
How much are your services going to cost me?
We charge fair, competitive flat fees for our services. Here’s the problem you face with a lot of other attorneys: The ultra-expensive guys aren’t going to get you a better result than we are, and the dirt cheap guys aren’t going to much of anything for you at all. That’s where we come in. While we certainly don’t have the lowest fees in the Puget Sound, we won’t make you take out a second mortgage either.


 Brief Overview of a Few Common Sex Crimes

False allegations of rape are commonplace, and all it takes is one person pointing their finger at you and you can get charged. No corroboration of any kind is needed. No DNA, no other witnesses, nothing. Rape defenses generally fall into two main categories: (1) No sex occurred at all; or (2) the sex was consensual. These are two very distinct defenses, each requiring a skilled approach by an experienced legal team.
Child Molestation
These are complex and delicate cases that definitely require an experienced attorney by your side. The very first thing a jury thinks in a case of this nature is, “why would a child ever lie about being molested?” Because of this, even though the burden is on the state to prove your guilt, in these cases, the reality is we often have to work to prove your innocence.
Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes
CMIP for short is one of those odd statutes in Washington where a first offense can be a gross misdemeanor, unless the alleged communication was done by electronic means, in which case it is a class C felony. Either way, if you’re convicted, you would be required to register as a sex offender. Knowledge about the the age of the person you were in communication with is often a key element in these cases and we have a lot of experience successfully challenging that element.
Indecent Liberties

The crime of Indecent liberties revolves around the capacity to consent to sexual contact. In other words, was the alleged victim incapable of consent because of being mentally defective or incapacitated or physically helpless? This comes up in a number of different circumstances. A few of which are:

  • Someone has had too much alcohol to drink or taken too many drugs to be able to consent
  • A doctor/patient examination
  • An allegation of inappropriate contact by a massage therapist
  • When someone is a resident at a drug rehab or a mental health facility and alleges inappropriate contact with someone who had supervisory authority over them.

Prosecutors often take a hard stance on indecent liberty cases and as a result these cases have a higher likelihood of ending up in trial compared to many other cases. We always exhaust all pre-trial remedies first, but if that if trial is our only option then we will be ready to fight hard for a “got guilty” verdict.


Voyeurism arrests are on the rise in Washington. This is in part due to virtually every phone now being equipped with a camera and/or video recording capabilities. We typically see allegations of this come up where the victim was in a place where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy (a bathroom, a clothing store changing room, a locker room, a house, apartment or hotel, etc.) and they are filmed or photographed without their knowledge and consent.

The state also must prove that the filming or photographing was done for the purpose of arousing or gratify sexual desires.

We have successfully handled a number of these cases and are standing by ready to discuss the best possible defense of your voyeurism case as well.

Child Pornography

In State Courts, this allegation is referred to as possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, while in Federal Court, it is referred to as Possession of Child Pornography.  These days, we most commonly see this charge associated with electronic files/folders stored on a client’s computer or other device.  In particular, it often arises in cases where there is alleged file sharing on protocols such as BitTorrent and UTorrent, which can also sometimes lead to "Dealing" charges as well.

There are varying approached to defending this allegation. For instance, many times our client does not personally know the person in the picture/video. Thus if you are not in possession of any facts that would prove you knew the age of the person, then you have a very viable defense to this charge if the person depicted in the images arguably appears as though he/she could be 18 years old. Another argument centers around the term possession itself.  For example, if the image(s) were in some unallocated cache that you didn't specifically know about or access, then this could negate the possession requirement.

Mitigation, including psychosexual evaluations, also often play an important role in these cases.

Patronizing a Prostitute/Sexual Exploitation
Western Washington has been cracking down on prostitution related cases recently (as of 2016), and the focus of law enforcement has been to arrest the customers, not the prostitutes. It used to be that these cases were simply referred for diversion so you didn’t have to do much of anything to avoid a conviction. Not anymore. Prosecutors now want you to have a criminal record for this charge. While this is just a simple misdemeanor (as opposed to a more serious gross misdemeanor), a conviction can have very real and dire consequences. We handle a large number of these cases and know the best approach to fight them and avoiding a conviction.
Promoting Prostitution 2
As opposed to promoting prostitution in the first degree, promoting in the second degree is not technically a sex crime. Further, it was traditionally only pursued for what people commonly refer to as “pimps.” While the law is certainly is still applied to alleged pimps, it has recently (as of 2016) been expanded to other activities. For instance, a huge bust occurred in January 2016, charging several men with felonies simply because they visited prostitutes and then went online and wrote reviews about their experiences. This is not the promotion of prostitution as far as we are concerned and if you are charged with this, let us know and we will fight the Prosecution on this every step of the way.
Police Stings

Stings on sex cases are very common and take several different forms. For instance, the police may post an ad online offering prostitution services, or they may be in a chatroom or on an app posing as a minor, or as the parent of a minor offering up their kid for sex. See our page on Prostitution Stings and/or our page covering Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor/Net Nanny Stings for more information.

We made our name defending clients in sting cases with our success in handling the Dateline NBC To Catch A Predator cases, and we are still vigorously fighting these cases to this day.