In Washington State and nationwide, sexual assault is a serious offense. It warrants a felony charge. To understand the law, it is important to understand what sexual assault is. Likewise, consent is a crucial element to the law. 

Washington State defines sexual contact as any touching of intimate or sexual parts of a person for gratifying the sexual desire of either person or a third-party person. 

How does the law define sexual assault in Washington? 

What is consent? 

To consent is to agree to sexual activity. All sexual activity should be consensual. The law does define times where a person cannot give consent. 

A person cannot consent if he or she is high, drunk, passed out or asleep and hence does not have the physical ability to consent. He or she cannot consent under threat, coercion or manipulation.  Anyone under the age of 16 cannot consent and neither can those who have certain mental disabilities. 

What is assault? 

There are several sexual assault felonies. The most common include rape in the first, second and third-degree. It also includes indecent liberties. 

The third degree may be what most people know as date rape. This involves a lack of consent from the victim. The second degree includes force or when a person is helpless physically or mentally. The first degree is the most serious. This is force with a deadly weapon, serious injury, kidnapping or after illegal entry to reach the victim. 

Indecent liberties include when a person forces another person to have sexual contact. This can be through an act of force or because the other person cannot consent.