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Indecent Liberties: How is it Considered in Washington State?

A man checking out his female colleague

Dedicated Washington Sexual Abuse Attorneys Will Fight for Your Rights

If you or a loved one suffered the indignity of another person taking indecent liberties without your consent, you might be wondering what you should do next. Knowing what you should do is hard to determine. Pursuing justice vigorously in civil and criminal courts may help you overcome the feelings of hopelessness and despair that so many victims of indecent liberties experience.

At the D’Amore Law Group, our sexual assault lawyers have decades of experience representing sexual assault victims. Our compassionate and dedicated Washington sexual assault attorneys will fight to help you maximize your financial recovery. We understand that no amount of money can heal your wounds. However, taking positive action to hold your abusers accountable may help you regain control over your life.

What Are Indecent Liberties in Washington State?

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) defines indecent liberties. RCW § 9A.44.100 indicates that a person commits the crime of indecent liberties when they knowingly cause another person to have sexual contact with themselves or a third party under certain circumstances.  Those circumstances include when:

  • Sexual contact is forced;
  • The victim cannot consent to sexual contact due to a mental defect, incapacitation, or physical incapacitation;
  • The victim has a developmental disability and the perpetrator has supervisory power over the victim or was transporting the victim within the course of employment duties when the crime occurred;
  • The perpetrator is a health care provider for the victim and the assault occurred during the victim’s treatment or care;
  • The victim lived in a facility that houses people with mental disorders or is a facility that treats people with chemical disorders and the perpetrator had supervisory responsibilities over the victim; or
  • The victim is a frail elderly or vulnerable adult and the assailant has a substantial relationship with the victim or was transporting the victim and committed the assault within the course of employment.

What makes the crime of indecent liberties particularly heinous is that the perpetrator either compelled the assault by force or used their status to take advantage of a vulnerable person.

Understanding the Indecent Liberties Law

RCW § 9A.44.010 defines several phrases that are used in the indecent liberties statute. Defining those keywords and phrases will help you better understand when the indecent liberties law applies. A knowledgeable sexual assault attorney can discuss these definitions with you in greater detail during your initial free consultation.

Sexual Contact

Under Washington law, sexual contact means any touching of either the sexual or intimate parts of a person’s body for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or third party.

Forcible Compulsion

In these circumstances, forcible compulsion means any force applied to the victim that overcomes resistance. The force could be physical. The force could also be an express or implied threat that places the victim in fear of death or being kidnapped.

Consent

Lack of consent is the most important factor in the crime of indecent liberties. The person accused of indecent liberties could argue that the victim consented to the sexual contact. However, consent is more than mere acquiescence. Rather, a person communicates consent with words or actions that indicate the person freely agrees to have sexual contact.

Criminal Punishment for Indecent Liberties in Washington State

The crime of indecent liberties is a class A felony if the perpetrator committed the act with forcible computation. That means he or she could spend the remainder of their life in prison. Otherwise, the crime is a class B felony. A conviction for a class B felony could send the person to prison for up to 10 years.

Your sexual assault lawyer can work with you throughout the legal process. Part of the process may mean assisting with the prosecution of the perpetrator.

You might wonder why you need a legal practitioner with you when the prosecutor is a lawyer. You should know that the prosecutor is definitely on your side because you are the victim of a terrible crime. However, the prosecutor’s job is to get a conviction, which may or may not mean that they are overly concerned with your best interests. Only the sexual assault lawyer that you choose to represent you has your best interests at heart.

Participating in the prosecution of the offender can help you heal your wounds. And a successful prosecution takes the perpetrator out of society so they cannot hurt another person again. However, achieving the goal of making you whole again may also include holding all responsible parties accountable in civil court. This is where your sexual assault attorney can be of utmost importance.

The Victim of Indecent Liberties Has the Right to Pursue Financial Compensation

As the victim of a crime, you have the right to bring a claim for financial compensation. You might not think that filing a civil claim against the offender is worth your time, especially if that person went to prison. Someone who is sitting in jail is essentially judgment proof. However, there may be other parties who violated your rights that you could hold responsible for your injuries.

If you or your loved one was victimized by someone who was your caretaker, then the perpetrator’s employer may be civilly liable to you for monetary damages. You may have the right to sue for damages because the perpetrator’s employer knew or should have known that their employee was dangerous. That means you could bring a claim for negligent hiring or negligent retention, depending on the facts of your case.

You might have other claims against the employer and the perpetrator as well. An experienced sexual assault attorney could explain what causes of action you can bring and against whom.

Damage Awards for Indecent Liberties

How much you could win in a settlement or after trial depends on the circumstances of your case. Your injuries may include both economic and non-economic damages. As a result, you could seek compensation for economic losses such as:

  • Lost wages,
  • Medical bills,
  • Future medical costs, and
  • Loss of future income.

These are just some examples of the types of economic losses you can claim.

You can also claim non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, psychological injuries, and emotional scarring.

In some cases, you might also be eligible to file a claim for punitive damages. Sexual assault victims can win punitive damages after trial. A judge or jury can use punitive damages to punish defendants for, particularly egregious wrongdoing. The hope is that such punishment will dissuade them from committing similar acts in the future.

Where Should You Turn for Help?

At D’Amore Law Group, we have compassionate, yet tough sexual assault lawyers who are ready to fight for you. D’Amore Law Group’s mission is to provide justice for innocent victims, and we stand ready to stand up for your rights when you need help the most. So call us at 800-905-4676 today for a free consultation. We are ready to serve you and help you make a full recovery.

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