Sexual Assault

Tacoma Sexual Assault Defense

Washington’s criminal laws do not identify “sexual assault” as a specific offense, but the term appears frequently in cases of alleged sex crimes. The term appears in state law provisions for protective orders against alleged assailants and support services for victims. “Sexual assault” covers a wide range of sex offenses, and it is important for an individual who is under investigation or has been charged with an alleged offense to understand which offenses can lead to further legal proceedings based on “sexual assault.” A skilled and knowledgeable Washington sex crimes defense attorney can help you understand your rights and the charges or accusations against you, can help you plan and prepare your defense.

Use of the Term “Sexual Assault” in Washington Law

The term “sexual assault” appears in several places in Washington’s Revised Code, most notably the Sexual Assault Protection Order Act (SAPOA) in Title 7 and the Victims of Sexual Assault Act (VSAA) in Title 70. These laws use the term to refer to a range of alleged acts. Specific sex offenses, such as the offense of “indecent liberties,” may also be referred to as “sexual assault” in some situations.

Offenses Constituting Sexual Assault

The VSAA defines “sexual assault” with a broad list of specific offenses: rape, rape of a child, assault with intent to commit either form of rape, incest, indecent liberties, child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, custodial sexual misconduct, crimes with sexual motivation, and attempts to commit any of these offenses. The SAPOA defines “sexual assault” as nonconsensual intercourse; nonconsensual touching of the genitals or anus of another person, with or without the use of force; or the “forced display” of a person’s genitals, anus, or breasts for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

Sexual Assault Protection Orders

An alleged victim of sexual assault who does not qualify for a protective order under Washington’s Domestic Relations Code may petition for a “sexual assault protection order” under the SAPOA. An ex parte protective order is available with no notice to the alleged assailant upon a showing of good cause to a judge by a preponderance of evidence. The court must hold a hearing within fourteen days, with notice to the defendant. The petitioner is not subject to the same burden of proof as the state would be in a criminal proceeding. Any order granted by the court under the SAPOA must clearly identify the restraints on the defendant, and must notify the defendant that any violation of the protective order is a criminal offense.

Individuals have rights during all parts of a criminal case, from an initial investigation through post-conviction proceedings, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and secured by local, state, and federal law. To further guard against possible abuses by police, prosecutors, judges, and other officials, you should consult with an experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer at all stages of the criminal process. Timothy L. Healy has defended people in sex crimes cases throughout Washington, particularly Tacoma and Pierce County, since 1995. We have helped clients assert their rights in criminal hearings and trials as well as quasi-criminal proceedings like sexual assault protection order hearings. Contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.