Child molestation charges are one of the gravest charges to be accused of in the Washington Court. The state is absolutely critical and ruthless against such crimes with zero tolerance for repeaters. As such false accusations and rushed judgments due to excited emotions can wrongfully ruin a man’s entire life and career- including career prospects. Therefore, defense law firms like that of the Seattle Child Molestation Defense Law Firm work tirelessly to defend such accusations and protect a person’s life against the vagaries of the law and public opinion.
Child Molestation Law in Washington:
This statutory law prohibits sexual contact with a person who is still considered a child. Usually, it applies to anyone below the age of sixteen. As such, it is one of the laws in Washington that depend on the victim’s age.
The law being “statutory” also implies that an accused can be convicted even if the sexual act was under proper consent or to the willing desire of the victim. So long as the victim falls within the age threshold, they are considered incapable of consent.
Child molestation charges can be categorized under three categories in descending order of their gravity.
- First degree: The most severe charge is when the victim is below 12 years of age and the accused is at least three years older than the victim.
- Second degree: It is charged when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 14, and once again, the accused is at least three years older.
- Third degree: The lightest charge with the least penalties compared to the other two- this is charged when the victim is less than 16 years old and not married to the accused in a relationship, and the accused is at least four years older than the victim.
What qualifies as an offense
It must be noted that the law does not necessarily only criminalize sex with the victim, but any physical contact of sexual nature shared between the two parties- including inappropriate touching and touching of the genitals.
It is also considered an offense if a sexual act was induced among two other parties without the direct involvement of the accused.
Consequences for the Accused:
The consequences for offenders if convicted under this law, under the three degrees, are as follows:
- First degree: Treated as a Class A Felony, punishment can go up to life in prison with a payable fine of $ 50,000. Even first-time offenders can be convicted for a minimum jail time of 51-68 months.
- Second degree: A Class B Felony with up to 10 years in jail and a fine of $ 20,000. First-time offenders can get up to 15-20 months in prison.
- Third degree: Treated as a Class C Felony with up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine up to $ 10,000.
Additionally, the convict may be forced to sign up for living under community custody which vastly limits and restricts their living conditions while also ordering a host of rules to be followed. Regular checks and screenings are also conducted to ensure proper maintenance of all regulations and orders.
How To Defend Against It?
One of the best, trusted, and most efficient ways to defend against a charge of child molestation is to hire an acclaimed Seattle Child Molestation Defense Law Firm. Some of the more efficient tactics to defend include:
- Scrutiny of the child’s testimony and the interview process used. If the interview process did not follow the Harborview Interview Guide for child interviewers, the testimony could be challenged under false procedure and manipulation.
- Contacting for forensic analysis of the interview to reveal signs of suggestions, hints, or external manipulation of the child’s responses.
Because of the sensitive nature of the crime and accusation, immediately people grow biased towards the accused, and the public sentiment shifts to guilty until proven innocent. People start to question their assumptions, and emotions run rampant. In these scenarios, the lack of evidence makes the situation more complex and further fueling the fire that the accused is genuinely the offender. Since the law upholds the child’s testimony above the suspect’s statement, they must be accompanied by relevant evidence.
False accusations of child molestation are in itself enough to ruin a person’s life even if they are proven innocent. Therefore, defense firms like that of the Seattle Child Molestation Defense Law Firm work dedicatedly to defend against such scathing charges as best as possible and ensure the proper use of law and passing of reasonable judgment.