In Washington, there are two forms of sexual misconduct: first-degree and second-degree. First-degree is a class C felony involving sexual intercourse with a minor. Second-degree misconduct, a gross misdemeanor, involves sexual contact. In the case of second-degree, the adult, at least five years older, engages in or causes inappropriate contact with a teenager aged 16 or 17.

This does not involve sexual intercourse, which is a characteristic of first-degree misconduct. Instead, it refers to inappropriate touching by someone who holds a position of authority or is in a professional role, like a foster parent, teacher or coach. Even though contact is less severe than sexual intercourse, it is still a crime punishable by law.

Consequences for second-degree sexual misconduct

Since second-degree sexual misconduct is a gross misdemeanor, the penalties are less harsh than those for a class C felony. Still, they are significant. If found guilty of second-degree sexual misconduct, a person can face jail time, be required to pay fines and may be put on probation. As a mandatory punishment in all cases of conviction, the lawbreaker must register as a sex offender.

However, the exact penalties can vary based on various factors. These can include the specifics of the case and the individual’s previous criminal record.

Choosing a plea bargain as a defense

In some cases, charges can be reduced through a plea bargain. For instance, McKenna Kindred, a former teacher, managed to have her charge reduced through a plea deal. While a plea bargain can reduce the charges, it does not eliminate the consequences.

Kindred still faced penalties, including probation, fines and the requirement to register as a sex offender. This shows that even a reduced charge still carries grave consequences.

Seeking legal help

Knowing the potential ways to address a charge of second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor is crucial. This is especially true for those facing these charges. Anyone in this situation should consider seeking help from a legal professional. They can guide the defendant through the case, explore the possibility of a plea bargain and protect the defendant’s rights.