Understanding What a Second Degree Rape Charge Means

When dealing with a situation that involves second degree rape charges, it’s vital to understand what exactly that means. This extremely serious charge can alter someone’s life in a variety of ways, ranging from hefty fines to significant prison time and sex offender registration.

To provide a better sense of what these charges entail, we’ve compiled and answered a few frequently asked questions. This information will help you better comprehend the nature of these charges and their potential impacts.

Keep in mind that if charges of this nature are brought against you, you need to employ a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney, like the ones at Vindicate Law, will not only guide you through the defense process but also help you understand your options and work toward the best possible outcome.

What Is Second Degree Rape?

According to Washington Law, second degree rape occurs when a person uses forcible compulsion to perform a sex act against a victim who is either physically helpless or mentally incapacitated (e.g., heavily intoxicated) and therefore incapable of providing consent.

It also occurs in all instances where a victim, whom the defendant is not married to, has a developmental disability. The second degree classification addresses abuses of authority, such as when the defendant is a healthcare provider and the victim is their client or patient. Instances where the victim is a resident of a facility for patients with mental disorders, or when the victim is a frail elder or vulnerable adult, are also considered second degree rape.

What Are the Sentences for Second Degree Rape?

In the State of Washington, rape in the second degree is a Class A felony. Maximum sentencing is life imprisonment and/or a fine of $50,000. In any case that reaches a conviction, the judge must impose a sentence of at least seven and a half years. Even after serving this sentence, the guilty party will be in community custody, also called probation, for the remainder of their life.

What To Do If You’re Accused of Second Degree Rape

Facing allegations of rape in any degree is, without a doubt, life-altering. Anyone charged with this crime is facing incarceration, lifetime community custody, lifetime sex offense registration, and significant fines. Someone charged with second degree rape is also at high risk of losing their job, especially if the alleged act took place at work.

The likelihood of severe repercussions means that quick action is essential in these situations. Here are some immediate steps to take if you are ever charged:

Seek Out an Attorney

Once accused, do not speak to anyone about the charges, especially law enforcement, without an attorney present. Instead, seek the help of a trusted second degree rape criminal defense lawyer. They can educate you in the nuances of the law, help construct a timeline, and compile a witness list. An experienced attorney may also arrange for scientific testing and expert testimony to aid in your defense. It’s crucial to be completely transparent about the events that transpired when speaking to your attorney. The more information your lawyer has, the better they can defend you.

Expect Expenses

If you face criminal charges in areas like child abuse, rape, or domestic violence, you may be subject to a litany of specialized psychological testing at your expense.  Depending on the charge(s), the testing and evaluations vary.  Other expenses include the costs of obtaining records or evidence, expert fees, and testimony fees (most experts charge to appear and testify in court).  It is best to prepare yourself for these expenses and inform your lawyer of your financial situation.

How Can I Defend Myself Against a 2nd Degree Rape Charge?

The first step is always to seek trusted legal representation to help you build a defense against any charges. Once you have retained a lawyer, they may pursue one of the following defenses:

  • Innocence: A defendant asserts general denial over the alleged crime(s) with a basic defense claim of actual innocence.  A common method of asserting innocence is to provide an alibi for the time when the alleged crime took place. In this situation, the defendant has to be able to support the alibi with credible evidence to establish they were not present when the crime is alleged to have happened.
  • Consent: A defendant admits to the behavior in question but argues that the victim consented at the time, negating the charges. One element of a second degree rape charge is that the crime took place against the victim’s will. In most cases, however, consent by the victim is difficult to prove without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
  •  Insanity or Mental Incapacity: A defendant claims they had a mental disability, such as insanity, at the time of intercourse, thereby arguing to remove or reduce the liability of their actions. The term “insanity” refers to individuals who are found to be incompetent through an evaluation. This does not necessarily remove all liability, as the defendant may be ordered to go through restoration (a short-term involuntary mental treatment) or civilly committed.Mental incapacity could be the same as insanity if you’re referring to someone who is developmentally disabled, and could not physically or verbally defend themselves. However, in that instance, there would not be the option of restoration as there would be with an insanity defense.
  • Duress: A defendant participated in the crime under compulsion by another and would not have acted if not under duress.

With the defendant’s permission, an attorney may choose to pursue a defense tactic that could lead to reduced sentencing, rather than attempt to prove innocence. In all cases, the lawyer will choose the strategy that they believe will lead to the best outcome for the defendant.

Defend Against Second Degree Rape Charges with Help from Vindicate Law

When you receive charges of this magnitude, you need to act quickly and work with experienced criminal law attorneys. The attorneys at Vindicate Law specialize in all manner of criminal defense, including sex crimes in the State of Washington. Our lawyers will help you understand your options and will develop a legal strategy designed to achieve the best outcome for you.

For more information or to speak with one of our lawyers about your second degree rape charge, contact us today.