Washington law criminalizes any kind of sexual contact between law enforcement or corrections personnel and the inmates or detainees in their custody. Sexual contact under these circumstances has too much potential for coercion to be deemed legitimate, even if the person in custody nominally consents to the sexual contact.
Therefore, officers who come into contact with inmates and arrested persons must take special care to avoid career-threatening incidents that might lead to custodial sexual misconduct charges.
If, despite this care, such a charge is leveled against you, it may feel like everything you’ve worked for is at risk. Your accuser may be lying to get some kind of preferential treatment or to distract attention from his or her own legal troubles.
A good defense lawyer is essential to protect your career and your reputation and to tell your side of the story.
Washington Law on Custodial Sexual Misconduct
RCW 9A.44.160 provides that Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree occurs when the accused has sexual intercourse with another person who is a resident of a correctional facility (or is under correctional supervision), where the accused is an employee of a correctional agency with “the ability to influence the terms, conditions, length, or fact of incarceration or correctional supervision.” First-degree custodial sexual misconduct can also occur when a law enforcement officer has sexual intercourse with a person being detained or placed under arrest.
Under RCW 9A.44.170, Custodial Sexual Misconduct in the Second Degree occurs when the accused has sexual contact (short of sexual intercourse) with an inmate or detainee under the same circumstances. “Being detained” as used in the custodial sexual misconduct statutes means restraint on a person’s freedom of movement to such a degree that a reasonable person would not have felt free to leave. This means that a custodial sexual misconduct charge can arise from a situation where a law enforcement officer has detained someone for questioning but has not actually arrested that person.
Because the ability of a law enforcement officer or corrections employee to influence the nature of the inmate’s or detainee’s confinement is great, the law in Washington presumes that sexual intercourse or contact under these circumstances cannot be truly consensual.
What’s at Stake on a Custodial Sexual Misconduct Charge?
Custodial sexual misconduct in the first degree is a Class C felony. A Class C felony conviction could result in five years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both. Felony convictions also damage hard-earned reputations and can make it difficult to find employment, housing, or schooling. Some felony convictions can even prevent your seeing your minor children.
Custodial sexual misconduct in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor. Persons convicted of a gross misdemeanor may be imprisoned for 364 days and fined $5,000. Harm to reputation and employment prospects can result here, too.
Whether in the first or second degree, custodial sexual misconduct is also considered a sex offense under Washington law. Sex offense convictions are typically accompanied by a duty to register as a sex offender with the sheriff of the county in which you live, work, or attend school. The duty to register can persist long after you’ve been released from confinement.
How The Marshall Defense Firm Will Present Your Defense
Perhaps the alleged sexual conduct of which you have been accused never happened – maybe your accuser has fabricated the story because he or she thinks they will benefit in some way from discrediting you. The State is required to prove the sex did happen. We will highlight and develop weaknesses in the accuser’s account.
You have the right to testify and the right not to testify. It’s your choice. We will work with you to help you make that decision and, if you decide to testify, we will help you do so as powerfully as possible.
Maybe sexual intercourse or contact was forced on you by the other person. If so, you have an affirmative defense to either first or second-degree custodial sexual misconduct. Your attorney must prove that you were forced by a preponderance of the evidence) that. This standard of proof is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard the prosecution must meet on points it is required to prove.
No matter what the case may be, we will fight vigorously to seek the best legal outcome possible.
What it’s Like to Have The Marshall Defense Firm in Your Corner
Respect and compassion are the foundation of our work. We take time to get to know you and your case. It’s where our fierce advocacy for you begins.
Then there’s our experience. For decades we have defended persons accused of sex crimes. From that and our on-going study of the law, medicine, and psychology involved in these cases, we have exceptional skill.
And we pool that skill. We work as a team. We know that no one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, will have all the good ideas for your case.
Our final ingredient is relentless investigation and preparation. When we step into court to defend you, we are ready to do it well.