Facing accusations of child molestation can put the accused and those around them in a state of anxiety and uncertainty. Child molestation charges carry significant weight in Washington State and should not be taken lightly. Even before formal filing of any charges, there can be damaging effects both on the personal and professional level.
Because these charges can have ripple effects in so many areas of life, selecting the right legal counsel is imperative. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can take on child molestation charges with a sound and sturdy defense.
Washington State Child Molestation Laws
Washington State details three different classifications/degrees of child molestation. The primary differentiator between them center around the age of the alleged victim. The law also requires that the accused is at least three years older (1st & 2nd degree) or four years older (3rd degree) than the alleged victim.
A person has committed child molestation in the first degree when a person:
“has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is less than twelve years old and not married to the perpetrator.”
Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.44.083
Child molestation in the second degree is defined under the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.44.086. This occurs when an individual:
“has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is at least twelve years old but less than fourteen years old and not married to the perpetrator.”
The final classification of child molestation law covers child molestation in the third degree. The Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.44.089 outlines the circumstances in which an individual commits this crime:
“the person has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is at least fourteen years old but less than sixteen years old and not married to the perpetrator.”
All child molestation laws do not carry the same penalties. Below, learn about the punishments that accompany child molestation charges in Washington State.
The Penalties of Child Molestation Laws in Washington State
Each degree of child molestation laws come with differing punishments under Washington State Law.
While the level of punishment differs, all child molestation charges are serious and have far-reaching impacts for those facing them.
Felony Child Molestation Charges
If convicted of child molestation, the defendant will face a felony-level charge. There are three levels of felony charges that each brings about different penalties. Section 9A.20.021 of The Revised Code of Washington details each felony category:
Class A Felony: Up to life imprisonment or a fine of $50,000, or both. This requires lifetime registration as a sexual offender.
Class B Felony: Up to ten years in state prison or a fine of $20,000, or both. This requires a 15-year registration as a sexual offender.
Class C Felony: Up to five years in state prison or a fine of $10,000, or both. This requires a 10-year registration as a sexual offender.
The prison times listed above are maximum sentences. However, actual sentence times will be determined by Washington State Sentencing Guidelines. Enlisting an attorney who is well versed in Washington State Law is your best course of action for understanding these guidelines and formulating a defense.
Arrange a Strong Legal Defense
Those facing child molestation charges have the right to fight these charges in a court of law. Set yourself up with a legal team that has decades of experience working on behalf of those accused of criminal offenses.
The only absolute defense to an allegation of child molestation is that one has been falsely accused. Common arguments made in support of this include:
- Underlying motivations of the accuser. For instance, being upset about a strict parent/guardian;
- Underlying motivations of an accuser’s parent. This can include a spouse seeking full custody of a child;
- False memories;
- Projecting molestation by another person onto the defendant.
A skilled attorney will be able to examine your case and discover the best path stance to take in fighting these charges.
The stakes are too high to settle for a mediocre lawyer. Contact the professionals at Will & Will today. Or call at 206-209-5585.