Juvenile sex crime defense is unique because it can affect a child's future even after they become an adult. Penalties can include confinement, registration as a sex offender, changing schools, and notifying the school of sex offender status. With so much at stake, parents who have children accused of juvenile sex offenses need an attorney experienced in juvenile defense, criminal defense, and sex crime defense -- all of those areas of legal experience, not just one.
Juvenile Sex Crimes in Washington
Sex crimes involve sexual assault, unwanted touching of the intimate body parts of another, sexual conduct without consent or with a minor, or unlawful actions with which have a sexual motive. Sex offenses in Washington can include:
- Date rape,
- Child molestation,
- Rape of a child,
- Sexual misconduct,
- Assault with sexual motivation, and
- Indecent liberties.
Children can be accused of serious sex crimes for actions that do not sound like what they think of as “rape.” Rape does not always involve force or threat of harm. Rape can include sex when a person is legally incapable of consent, such as when someone is drunk or impaired or under a certain age.
Rape and date rape generally involve sexual intercourse with another person without consent, against the victim's will, or through use or threat of force or harm.
Lack of consent can involve a victim who is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or has a developmental disability. The victim may also lack the ability to consent because of impairment by alcohol and/or drugs. The minor can still be charged even if both the minor and alleged victim were both drinking or impaired.
Under Washington law, rape requires "sexual intercourse." Sexual intercourse includes any penetration of the vagina or anus, however slight, by any object. It also includes any sexual contact involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth of another.
Some people may not personally consider certain actions to be "intercourse," but under Washington law, many actions that seem less than what people normally consider as intercourse are legally considered to be intercourse for the purpose of a sex crime conviction.
Child rape is a very serious charge that does not require a showing of force or threat. Sometimes called statutory rape, this law is simply based on the difference in the age of the people involved. A juvenile can be accused of raping another juvenile (Rape of a Child) based on the following:
- Sexual intercourse with another who is less than 12 years old and at least 24 months older than the victim is rape of a child in the first degree.
- Sexual intercourse with another who is at least 12 years old but less than 14 years old and at least 36 months older than the victim is rape of a child in the second degree.
- Sexual intercourse with another who is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old and at least 48 months older than the victim is rape of a child in the third degree.
Child molestation involves having any sexual contact with a minor. Sexual contact is the touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person done for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire. The penalties and degree of the crime are based on the ages of the perpetrator and victim.
Sex Offender Registration
Juveniles can be classified as sex offenders in Washington. Juvenile sex offenders may be subject to civil commitment if they are deemed to be a “sexually violent predator.” A civil commitment may not have a set sentence and can continue as long as the individual is still considered a predator.
Like all sex offenders, juvenile sex offenders in Washington are assigned to a risk level from one to three based on the likelihood to re-offend with level three having the highest risk of re-offense.
As a sex offender, juveniles have reporting and notification requirements that can go on for years after the offense. Juveniles have to register with law enforcement upon release. Offenders may also have to notify law enforcement when moving, changing schools, and re-register after a certain amount of time. The community is alerted when Level 2 and 3 offenders register a new address.
If the juvenile offender is still attending school, the principal is notified if an offender intends to enroll in a public or private school. However, the juvenile offender cannot attend the same school as the victim.
Getting Off the Sex Offender List
Individuals who were required to register as a sex offender for an offense committed when the offender was a juvenile may petition to be relieved of the duty to register as a sex offender. This does not apply to sexually violent predators. Requirements to petition for relief may include:
- Waiting a certain amount of time, based on the age of the offender during the offense and the amount of time that has passed;
- Not adjudicated or convicted of failure to register as required within a certain time period; and
- Showing that the petitioner is sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant removal from the sex offender registry.
Defenses to Juvenile Sex Offenses in Washington
There may be a number of possible legal defenses in your child's juvenile offense case. It is generally not a defense that the perpetrator did not know the victim's age. However, it is a defense if the defendant can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant reasonably believed the victim to be over a certain age and the defendant was not more than a certain number of months older than the victim.
For example, it may be a defense to the charge of rape of a child in the second degree where the defendant believed the victim was at least 14 and the defendant was not more than 36-months older than the victim.
In another example, it may be a defense to the charge of sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree where the victim was less than 60 months younger than the defendant.
Seattle Juvenile Sex Offense Defense Attorneys
At Burke Brown Attorneys, PLLC, we have the combined experience in juvenile defense, sex crimes defense, and Washington criminal defense necessary to best represent your child and your family. As our client, fighting for the rights of your child is our primary concern. Call us today at (206) 933-2414 or contact us online.