New Ruling on Consent Boosts Sex Crimes Defense

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In October 2014, The Supreme Court of the State of Washington came out with a decision that can strengthen the allegation of consent as a sex crimes defense. The case stemmed from a decision of a juvenile court that found the accused ‘W.R.’ committed rape in the second degree for an alleged sexual encounter between W.R. and J.F., the alleged victim. W.R. and J.F. were minors at the time of the alleged incident.

Alleged Victim had a Crush on the Defendant

W.R. admitted that he and J.F. had engaged in sexual intercourse but claimed as a sex crimes defense that it was consensual. W.R. said that J.F. had a crush on him and that they both had sexual contact on a prior occasion. J.F. initially denied this but later admitted that indeed, they had prior sexual relations but insisted that she did not consent to both incidents. J.F.’s sister who was living with W.R. at the time and who was in the vicinity when the alleged incident occurred also testified that J.F. had a crush on W.R..

The juvenile court found W.R. guilty of second degree rape by forcible compulsion, explaining that W.R. failed to prove the defense of consent by a preponderance of evidence.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

The Supreme Court disagreed with the juvenile court and stated that if a defendant asserts a consent defense and provides enough evidence to support this defense, then the burden shifts on the prosecution who must now prove that consent was lacking, as part of its evidence of the essential element of forcible compulsion.

Forcible compulsion is legally defined as “a physical force that overcomes actual resistance” or a “threat that places a person in actual fear”. Forcible compulsion can therefore not exist when the alleged victim consents, because then there could not have been any resistance to overcome. The case was remanded to the lower court for a new trial.

Being charged with a sex crime is a serious matter that can change your life forever. If you are wrongfully accused of a sex crime, it’s essential to raise all possible defenses available in your situation.

In Washington, D.C., criminal trial lawyers of Lotze Mosley, LLP have a combined experience of 25 years in sex crimes defense, obtaining the best possible outcomes for clients under the situation. We also handle criminal defenses for other cases such as drug crimes, fraud, gun crimes, theft, and traffic offenses.

We invite you to call our offices today at (202) 393-0535 to speak to an attorney about your situation.

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