Sexual Misconduct with a Minor Defense

An accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor requires a skilled defense from a sex crimes attorney with experience. The mere accusation of such an offense, let alone a conviction, can carry long-term legal and societal consequences. I have represented clients accused of sexual misconduct with a minor and other alleged offenses for over 15 years in Tacoma, Lakewood, and elsewhere in Washington.

Washington law includes specific alleged acts in its definition of sexual misconduct with a minor. The statute lists three types of conduct, based largely on the relationship between the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator, in its definition.

The first category addresses situations where a person is accused of taking advantage of a position of power over a minor. It applies when the alleged victim is 16 or 17 years-old; the alleged perpetrator is at least sixty months older than the alleged victim, meaning a minimum age of 21; the two are not married to one another; a “significant relationship” exists between the two; and the alleged perpetrator “abuses a supervisory position” over the alleged victim in order to: 


1. have “sexual intercourse” or “sexual contact” with the alleged victim; or
2. knowingly cause someone under the age of 18 to have “sexual intercourse” or “sexual contact” with the alleged victim.

The second category specifically addresses the same two types of conduct, except in the school environment. It defines a “minor” as someone between the ages of 16 and 21, and applies to such minors who are enrolled in school. It covers “school employees” who are, again, at least sixty months older than the alleged victim and not married to the alleged victim.

The third category applies to foster parents and foster children who are at least sixteen years-old, when the foster parent is accused of one of the two types of conduct listed above.

Punishment Depends on Sexual “Intercourse” Versus “Contact”

The offense of sexual misconduct with a minor in the first degree applies when the alleged act is “sexual intercourse.” Washington law defines this as having its “ordinary meaning,” and also including other acts of penetration, both by the genitals and other objects. A first-degree offense is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or some combination of the two.

When the alleged act only involves “sexual contact,” it is charged as sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree. “Sexual contact” is defined by Washington law as any contact by another person with the “sexual or other intimate parts” with the intent of “gratifying sexual desire” for the alleged victim, alleged perpetrator, or a third party. A second-degree offense is a gross misdemeanor. It is punishable by a combination of up to one year in county jail or a $5,000 fine.

If you have been charged with sexual misconduct with a minor in Tacoma, an experienced criminal defense attorney [link to Homepage] can help. For more than 15 years, I have protected the rights of defendants in criminal cases throughout Washington. Prosecutions in cases like these often rely on witness statements more than DNA or other circumstantial evidence. I have successfully represented clients in sex crimes cases such as these by identifying police errors and challenging the evidence, resulting in many substantially reduced sentences, acquittals, and even outright dismissals of charges. Contact us today online or at (253) 201-0406 for a free and confidential consultation.