Rape of a Child (sexual intercourse with a child, regardless of consent) and Child Molestation (sexual contact with a child, regardless of consent) are extremely serious felony charges with lengthy prison sentences, sometimes life in prison, if a person is convicted. Offenders are required to comply with sex offender registration requirements and if there is probation (“community custody”), supervision is very strict. In some cases, an offender who admits to committing the offense and seeks treatment may be eligible to receive sex offender treatment from a State-certified sex offender treatment provider and receive a suspended sentence, avoiding a lengthy prison sentence. These suspended sentences are called the “Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative” or “SSOSA.”
In Washington, these crimes are classified in three degrees, depending on the age of the child – the younger the child, the more serious the charge. Sexual assault cases also include charges involving sexual intercourse or contact with teenagers aged 16 to 18 that involve “abusing a supervisory relationship” (such as school employees or foster parents) and Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes.
These cases often have little or no corroborating evidence and depend on the testimony of the child who is the complaining witness. These cases require sensitive work by an experienced attorney who can explore and develop credibility issues and possible motives for the alleged victim to fabricate, or make up, the allegation, and to explore and develop facts in defense of the charge.