Washington Age of Consent Laws 2021
What is the Washington Age of Consent?
The Washington Age of Consent is 16 years old. In the United States, the age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 15 or younger in Washington are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.
Washington statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16. The age of consent is raised to 18 when the partners are a foster parent and foster child, when the older partner is at least 60 months older than their 16 or 17 year old partner and abuses their significant relationship(as defined by RCW 9A.44.010) to have sexual intercourse, or when the partners are teacher and student(this law was actually interpreted by the Washington State Supreme Court to extend to students up to 21 years old).
Washington does not have a close-in-age exemption. Close in age exemptions, commonly known as "Romeo and Juliet laws", are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both partners are below the age of consent.
Because there is no such "Romeo and Juliet law" in Washington, it is possible for two individuals both under the age of 16 who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape, although this is rare. Similarly, no protections are reserved for sexual relations in which one participant is a 15 year old and the second is a 16 or 17 year old.
Punishments for Violating the Age Of Consent in Washington
Washington has eight statutory sexual abuse charges on the books which are used to prosecute age of consent and child abuse related crimes within the state. One or more of these charges may be used to prosecute violations of the Washington Age of Consent, as statutory rape or the Washington equivalent of that charge.
The severity of the criminal charge (felony, misdemeanor, etc) depends on the specifics of the acts committed and the relative ages of the perpetrator and victim. Click any charge for more detailed information.
|Child molestation- first degree||Class A felony||Maximum of life in prison, and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Child molestation- second degree||Class B felony||Maximum of 10 years in prison, and/or a fine of $20,000|
|Child molestation- third degree||Class C felony||Maximum of 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of $10,000|
|Rape of a child- first degree||Class A felony||Maximum of life in prison, and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Rape of a child- second degree||Class A felony||Maximum of life in prison, and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Rape of a child- third degree||Class C felony||Maximum of 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of $10,000|
|Sexual misconduct with a minor- first degree||Class C felony||Maximum of 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of $10,000|
|Sexual misconduct with a minor- second degree||Gross misdemeanor||A maximum of 1 year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000|