If you have been raped or Sexually Assaulted... Know Your Rights INFORMATION FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

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1 If you have been raped or Sexually Assaulted... Know Your Rights INFORMATION FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

2 WHO SHOULD READ THIIS? If you have been recently sexually assaulted or raped, this booklet is designed to give you information about your legal rights in Washington State. This booklet does not contain information for parents about children who have been sexually abused and does not provide information about childhood sexual abuse. If you have a child or know a child who you believe has been sexually abused, please contact Child Protective Services, at , or your local law enforcement agency. This booklet is also available in Spanish. You may download this booklet in PDF format at BY THE SEXUAL VIOLENCE LAW CENTER (SVLC). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

3 When using the term rape or sexual assault throughout this booklet we are generally referring to sexual contact or sexual intercourse that is NOT consensual. Consensual generally means agreeing to, such as giving permission or indicating yes. DISCLAIMER This publication provides general legal information. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it provide legal advice. If you need legal advice you should consult an attorney. Laws change both as the result of legislative action and court decisions. The information here is current as of November This project was supported by Grant No WL-AX-2009 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. ii

4 INTRODUCTIION In Washington State at least one out of three women will be victims of sexual violence during their lifetime. The trauma of sexual assault can be experienced for many years after the initial assault. Victims of sexual violence often need support, services and someone they can talk with in private about the assault. There are more than forty sexual assault organizations throughout the State of Washington that have specially trained staff who are ready to provide support and services to victims of sexual violence. Healing from the impact of rape or sexual assault can be a long process. Being involved with the legal system can also be a difficult and frustrating experience. You will need to advocate for iii

5 yourself and assert your rights as a survivor of sexual violence. This booklet is intended to give you information about your legal rights and to help you understand what you can expect when seeking services or becoming involved in the legal system. It is our hope that this booklet may assist you in making informed decisions in how you choose to respond to your experience of sexual assault. For free and confidential legal information and referrals, contact the Statewide Legal Helpline at Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm. In King County, contact the Sexual Assault Legal Services and Assistance (SALSA) program at VOICE, 24 hours/day and ask for the SALSA program. SALSA pro vides free legal iv

6 representation to sexual assault victims in King County with certain civil legal matters. If you need assistance and advocacy support, please contact your local community sexual assault program listed in the back of this booklet. v

7 TABLE OF CONTENTS I. IF YOU NEED HELP... 1 II. RIGHT TO A SUPPORT PERSON... 4 III. RIGHT TO EMPLOYMENT LEAVE... 5 IV. HOUSING RIGHTS... 9 V. RIGHTS AT THE HOSPITAL VI. RIGHT TO INTERPRETERS VII. COURT ORDERS OF PROTECTION VIII. IF YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN IX. IF YOUR ENGLISH IS LIMITED X. IF YOU HAVE A DISABILITY XI. IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF XII. IF YOU CALL THE POLICE XIII. CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS... 45

8 APPENDIICES A. GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS B. SEXUAL ASSAULT STATUTES C. STATEWIDE RESOURCES D. SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAMS BY CITY vii

9 I. IF YOU NEED HELP If you are in immediate danger, call the police at SERVICES FOR VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT Throughout Washington there are community based programs that specialize in providing services to victims of rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse or to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. These programs are often called sexual assault programs or rape crisis centers. If you are not in immediate danger and have been raped or sexually assaulted and need to talk with someone, call your local sexual assault program listed by city in the back of this booklet. They can help you. If you call a sexual assault program to talk with someone about what has happened to you, the information you share will be kept private. 1

10 YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO CONFIDENTIALITY. This means that any information you share with a counselor or sexual assault advocate at a community sexual assault program is private and will not be shared with others. The paperwork about you that is generated by the sexual assault program is also confidential. EXCEPTIONS TO CONFIDENTIALITY If the counselor believes you are a serious physical danger to yourself or to others, confidential information may be disclosed to protect you or those in danger. Mandatory Reporting is also an exception to confidentiality. Please see Section XI of this booklet for more information on mandatory reporting. 2

11 WHAT IS AN ADVOCATE? When you work with an advocate it is important to know whether or not they are from a community based program or from the prosecutor s office. An advocate at a community based sexual assault program is someone trained in the area of sexual assault. They can provide medical advocacy, legal advocacy, counseling services, support and other resources to assist you. The services they provide are confidential. If the advocate is from a community based program, your conversations are private and generally confidential. An advocate at a prosecutor s office is someone who helps you through the legal system during a criminal prosecution. For example, they can help you communicate with the prosecutor and can attend court appointments with you. If the advocate is from a prosecutor s office, everything 3

12 you say to the advocate is NOT private or confidential. For a list of community based sexual assault programs, please see the APPENDIX D, listed in the back of this booklet. II. RIGHT TO A SUPPORT PERSON In the State of Washington a victim of rape or sexual assault has the right to a support person. The support person is someone you choose to be your personal representative. It can be a family member, friend or sexual assault advocate. You do not have to have a support person - but you do have a right to one. The right to a support person is important. You do not have to be alone or go through any procedures or processes in dealing with the sexual assault without a support person. There 4

13 are people trained to provide support and assistance to you. They can help you. For example, if you are receiving medical treatment or attending a proceeding concerning the assault (such as interviews with police or court hearings), you have the right to have your support person accompany you. If you would like to have a sexual assault advocate as your support person, please contact the sexual assault program in your community listed in the back of this booklet. III. RIGHT TO EMPLOYMENT LEAVE If you need to take time off from your job due to the sexual assault (or due to domestic violence or stalking), you may take reasonable leave from work for certain activities. 5

14 SPECIFIED ACTIVITIES ALLOWED: To seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies to ensure your health and safety; To seek treatment by a health care provider for physical or mental injuries; To obtain services from a community sexual assault program or other social services program; To obtain mental health counseling related to the sexual assault; or To participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other necessary actions to increase your safety. The leave you take can be with or without pay. You may choose to use sick leave and other paid time off, compensatory time, or unpaid leave time. If you do not have this sort of paid time off 6

15 available, or choose not to use it, you may take the leave without pay. NOTICE TO YOUR EMPLOYER You must give your employer advance notice of your planned leave. If possible, the timing of the notice must be consistent with your employer's policy for requesting such leave, if the employer has a policy. However, if you cannot follow your employer s advance notice policy for requesting leave, due to emergency or unforeseen circumstances, you must give notice no later than the end of the first day that you took leave. VERIFICATION Your employer may require verification that you are a victim of sexual assault and that the leave was taken for one of the allowable activities. The verification must be provided to your employer before taking leave, or within a reasonable time during or after the leave. 7

16 Verification means you must provide one of the following: a police report showing that you are a victim; a court order protecting you from the perpetrator, other evidence (from the court or prosecuting attorney) that you appeared or are scheduled to appear in court because of the sexual assault (e.g., subpoena, letter); documentation from a victim advocate, attorney, clergy member, doctor, or other professional from whom you sought assistance. You do not have to discuss any information about the sexual assault with your employer. You only have to provide verification. 8

17 When you return from leave, your employer must give you your former position or a position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. While you are on leave, your employer must also maintain your health insurance coverage if it is generally provided as a benefit. IV. HOUSING RIGHTS You have several rights related to your rental housing if you are the victim of sexual assault (or domestic violence or stalking). RIGHT TO MOVE First, you have the right to move. You may end a rental agreement with your landlord before your lease has expired by meeting the following three conditions: 1) You must have either: A valid order for protection, an anti-harassment order or criminal 9

18 no-contact order, or a record that you reported the sexual assault to a qualified third party. A qualified third party means any of the following people: law enforcement officers; state court employees; doctors, nurses and other health care professionals; licensed mental health professionals or counselors; members of the clergy; or crime victim/witness program advocates. Although reporting to a qualified third party may help you end your lease, you should know that it does not provide you with legally enforceable safety provisions that come with an order for protection. See Section VII for information regarding orders of protection. 10

19 2) The landlord must be notified in writing that you are a victim of sexual assault. A copy of the qualified third party report (e.g., order for protection or the record of the report to a qualified third party) must be included in the written notification. 3) The date that you notify your landlord that you intend to move must be within 90 days of the date of the sexual assault. This is not 90 days from when you reported the incident. If these three conditions are met, you may end your lease and move out without having to pay for the rest of the time on the lease. You are still responsible for rent due for the month in which you leave, even if you leave in the middle of the month. Also, you are still entitled to a refund of the deposit, as long as you have left the residence in the same condition as when you moved in. 11

20 RIGHT TO EQUAL TREATMENT You also have the right to rent a home free from discrimination. Your landlord is legally prohibited from refusing to rent to you, terminating your tenancy, or refusing to renew your lease, based on the fact that you are a victim of sexual assault. RIGHT TO SECURITY IN YOUR HOME Finally, if you obtain a protective order against a person living in your home, you are entitled to have your locks changed (at your expense). You must provide a copy of the protective order to your landlord. Your landlord must change the locks, and must not give a copy of the key to the former tenant who is now restrained from living in that home. PUBLIC HOUSING If you have tenant-based Section 8 housing (a voucher ), you must send the Public Housing 12

21 Authority (PHA) written notice that you are exercising your right to terminate the lease. The PHA should then issue you a new voucher to search for a new residence. The voucher usually expires after 60 days, but often can be extended. The policies regarding extensions and maximum search times vary with each PHA, and can be found in the Section 8 Administrative Plan for the particular PHA. In addition, if you need additional time to search for a residence because of a disability the PHA has a duty to extend the search period as a reasonable accommodation. If you need assistance or advocacy in terminating your lease, please contact your local sexual assault program listed in the back of this booklet by county. In King County, contact the Sexual Assault Legal Services & Assistance (SALSA) program 24 hour 13

22 resource line at VOICE for legal representation with and assistance with housing concerns. For residents outside of King County, call the statewide legal helpline at for legal information and referrals Monday Thursday, 9am-4pm. V. RIGHTS AT THE HOSPITAL If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you may choose to go to the hospital for medical care. YOU HAVE THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS: Right to a Support Person You have the right to have a support person with you during the medical examination. Right to a Free Medical Examination Costs for a rape exam are paid by state when the examination is performed for the 14

23 purposes of gathering evidence for possible prosecution. Right to Emergency Contraception If you have been sexually assaulted and go to the hospital, you should receive information about emergency contraception. If you want emergency contraception, and it is medically appropriate, the hospital must provide it. You will not be charged for emergency contraception if it is given at the same time you receive a rape exam for the purposes of gathering evidence for possible prosecution. You currently have the right to obtain emergency contraception at any pharmacy that stocks it, but these regulations are being reviewed and may be changed. If a pharmacist refuses to give you emergency contraception, contact Legal Voice at

24 RAPE EXAMINATIONS AND MEDICAL CARE A rape exam is sometimes referred to as a forensic exam. It is a medical examination conducted by a nurse who has been specially trained in sexual assault. The nurse will collect medical evidence to document the assault for possible prosecution. It is your decision whether or not to agree to a rape exam. If you do not want the rape exam, you can still get medical care from the hospital. In deciding whether or not to seek immediate medical care it is important to understand that if you are interested in having the person who assaulted you arrested and charged with the crime, that you should go to the hospital immediately after the assault. Time is an important consideration, because if too much time passes between the time of the assault and 16

25 the time you go to the hospital, there may be little or no physical evidence to show that you have been raped. Waiting too long may also reduce the effectiveness of emergency contraception. If you want evidence to be collected, you should go to the hospital immediately or at least within seventy-two (72) hours from when the rape occurred. In order to preserve evidence, if you can avoid it, do not drink anything, do not urinate and do not take a shower or attempt to wash yourself before going to the hospital. If you think you have been drugged and suspect you may have been sexually assaulted while you were drugged or intoxicated, go to the hospital immediately. At the hospital they can conduct tests to determine if drugs are in your system. 17

26 However, if you do not go to the hospital at all, or go at a later date and there is no physical evidence to indicate you have been raped, that does not mean the person will not be prosecuted. It also does not mean that you have not been raped. If you go to the hospital and evidence is collected, remember that it is still the prosecutor s decision whether or not the person who assaulted you will be charged with a crime. The forensic examination at the hospital following a rape is a free examination. However you do not necessarily have the right to free medical treatment of injuries you received during the assault. This depends on your income and will be determined between you and the hospital. 18

27 Money to help pay your hospital bill may be available through Crime Victim s Compensation (CVC). Crime Victims Compensation is a state fund that helps crime victims cover costs such as medical bills or counseling services. Crime Victims Compensation has specific and time sensitive application requirements and is only available after you have exhausted all other means of health insurance coverage. For more information, please call CVC at EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION The law requires every hospital emergency room, regardless of religious affiliation, to give sexual assault victims who come to the ER for treatment truthful information about emergency contraception (also known as emergency birth control, the morning-after pill, or Plan B ). The hospital must give you emergency contraception, 19

28 free of charge, if you request it at the time of a forensic rape exam. Emergency contraception contains the same hormones used in regular birth control pills. It has been used for more than thirty years to prevent pregnancy when taken within a short time after intercourse. It can prevent pregnancy if given within 72 (and possibly up to 120) hours after sexual intercourse. The closer in time to sexual assault, the more likely the medication will work to prevent a pregnancy. Emergency contraception can act after the fact to prevent a pregnancy, so it can help a woman avoid the additional trauma of fearing a pregnancy resulting from a rape. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that treatment with emergency contraception should be standard medical care for victims of rape. 20

29 VI. RIGHT TO INTERPRETERS IF YOU DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH If you are the victim of sexual assault and do not speak English, you have the right to a qualified interpreter in your primary language in court. You are usually required to provide the interpreter yourself and at your expense. However, the court must appoint and pay for an interpreter for you if you fall into one of two categories: (1) You are indigent (low income), or (2) You are required to be in court, because you are a party to the case or you have been subpoenaed. IF YOU ARE HEARING IMPAIRED A victim or witness of sexual assault who is hearing impaired and is involved in a legal proceeding has a right to a qualified interpreter paid for by the court. 21

30 If you need assistance in asserting your right to have an ASL or foreign language interpreter present, please contact your local sexual assault program or the statewide legal helpline of the Sexual Assault Legal Services & Assistance Program. Resource numbers are listed at the back of this booklet. VII. COURT ORDERS OF PROTECTION As a victim of sexual assault, you may have concerns for your safety. A protection order is a legal tool issued by a court that tells the perpetrator to stay away from you. Protection orders do not guarantee your safety, and it is still important to discuss safety planning with your advocate. Washington law is designed to make the process of obtaining a protection order as easy as possible if you have good reason for needing 22

31 protection. You do not need an attorney, and many people in protection order hearings do not have attorneys. There is no filing fee to get a sexual assault or domestic violence protection order, and you will be given free certified copies of your order. There are many resources available to assist you with getting a protection order, including publications at and Some courthouses have offices where you can get assistance filling out the documents, and helping with protection orders is one of the services typically provided by community based advocates. Please refer to the end of this booklet for a list of resources. SEXUAL ASSAULT PROTECTION ORDERS A sexual assault protection order (SAPO) is a civil order issued by the court that requires the offender to stay away from you and the places 23

32 you request in the order, such as your workplace, school, or home (you can also add other places specific to your situation, such as your place of worship or your vehicle). It also tells the offender to have no contact with you at all. Generally if the person does not obey the order, they can be arrested. To get an order you must file paperwork with the court. You can get temporary, emergency protections the day you file your paperwork. About two weeks later you will have a hearing where the person who has assaulted you will have an opportunity to respond. SAPO REQUIREMENTS To get a SAPO, you must be a victim of sexual assault and NOT in a family or domestic relationship with the offender. For example, if the offender is either related to you; is or was married to you; has been or is in a dating 24

33 relationship with you; or you have a child together, you cannot get a SAPO. (However you may be able to get a domestic violence protection order, see below). If you have experienced sexual contact or sexual intercourse that you did not agree to or give permission by saying yes, then you may be a victim of sexual assault under the law. You must be able to identify the person who sexually assaulted you. This means you need to know their name and where to find them. If you are not a victim in a criminal case, you can ask the civil court directly for a sexual assault protection order. Your ability to file a petition in civil court for a SAPO is not related to whether there is a criminal case against the offender. 25

34 OTHER SAPO CONCERNS There is no time limit for filing a SAPO it does not matter how long ago the sexual assault occurred. You are NOT required to have reported the sexual assault to the police. The law says the court should not deny your SAPO request if you and/or the perpetrator were voluntarily drinking alcohol. Sexual contact is not limited to sexual penetration; it may include unwanted touching the breasts, genitals, or anus outside of your clothing. Also, the law says the court should not deny your SAPO just because you did agree to some sexual touching. If you are sixteen or older, you can seek a SAPO without involving your parent or guardian. 26

35 If you have reported the sexual assault to law enforcement, you may be able to get a SAPO from the prosecutor s office or judge, without filing your own civil petition, if there is a criminal case ongoing. For a detailed explanation of the law and process for obtaining a SAPO, please see the Sexual Violence Law Center s publication, Understanding the Sexual Assault Protection Order at under Resources. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION ORDERS A protection order is a civil order issued by the court that tells the person who has harmed you to stay away from you, your children, and the places you live or work. Generally if the person does not obey the order, they can be arrested. To get an order you must file paperwork with the court. You can get temporary, emergency 27

36 protections the day you file your paperwork. About two weeks later you will have a hearing where the person who has assaulted you will have an opportunity to respond. To get a domestic violence protection order, you must have a domestic relationship with the person who assaulted you. That means you must be family or household members, this includes a person to whom you are married or formerly married, or you live with or formerly lived with, or you dated or formerly dated, or have children with, or are related by blood or marriage. If you do not meet these relationship requirements, then you are not eligible for a domestic violence protection order. If you are sixteen or older you can seek a protection order without involving your parent or guardian. If you are between thirteen and sixteen, and the person who assaulted you is 28

37 sixteen or older, you can seek a protection order, but you must have the assistance of an adult who will file the case for you. That adult may be a parent, but could also be an adult friend or family member. If you do not have an adult to assist you, the court can appoint a Guardian ad Litem to help you. ANTI-HARASSMENT ORDER An anti-harassment order is a civil protection order issued by the court that tells the harassing person to stop contacting you and to stay away from you. This type of protective order is often used to protect victims of stalking, repeated bullying or harassment, or voyeurism. To get an anti-harassment order you must be able to show that the person who assaulted you has engaged in unlawful harassment. Unlawful harassment means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at you which seriously 29

38 alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to you, and which also serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. Course of conduct means a series of acts over a period of time, however short, all with a similar purpose. That means you can NOT get an anti-harassment order based solely on one incident. However, you may still be eligible for such an order if you were assaulted only once, as long as there were other incidents of unlawful harassment. VULNERABLE ADULT PROTECTION ORDER A vulnerable adult protection order is a civil protection order that is brought on behalf of a vulnerable adult. The law says a vulnerable adult is generally someone over the age of sixty who cannot take care of themselves; or is found incapacitated; or who has a developmental disability; or who is admitted to or receiving services from any 30

39 facility, home health, hospice, a home care agency, or an individual provider. If you are a vulnerable adult and have been sexually assaulted (or have been abused or exploited in other ways), you may get this type of order. Also, the Dept. of Social and Health Services or any other person aware of the abuse, such as a friend or family member, can seek this order on your behalf, with or without your consent. If you have questions about this process, contact Disability Rights Washington at Vulnerable adult protection orders can protect the victim from sexual assault, other abuse, abandonment, neglect, or financial exploitation. They can require the offender to stay away from and have no contact with the victim. 31

40 CRIMINAL NO-CONTACT ORDER This type of order is issued by a judge in a criminal domestic violence case. It is not something you have to petition the court for and file paperwork with the court in order to obtain. However these orders are limited to criminal domestic violence cases. A no-contact order generally tells the perpetrator of domestic violence to stay away from you when they are released from custody before arraignment or trial on bail or personal recognizance. A no-contact order may be put into place at any time during the court proceedings. No-contact orders end when the criminal case ends (e.g. when charges are dropped, after a not guilty verdict, or when jurisdiction ends). The definition of domestic violence is limited to a family or household member (similar to civil 32

41 Domestic Violence Protection Orders). Thus if you are a victim of sexual assault and your relationship to the perpetrator does not meet the definition of family or household member you are not eligible for this type of order. If however, your case is criminally prosecuted, and the perpetrator is convicted of a sex offense, you could ask the judge in your victim impact statement to include a no-contact provision so that the perpetrator, once released from custody, is prohibited from having any contact with you. You can also get a SAPO in connection with the criminal prosecution of a sex offense. If the perpetrator is convicted of the sexual assault, the prosecutor may request that as a condition of the perpetrator s release, he or she is subject to a SAPO. Make sure you tell the prosecutor you would like this type of no contact provision included in the sentencing recommendations or a 33

42 SAPO to be in place once the perpetrator gets outs of prison. VIII. IF YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN If you are not a citizen of the United States you have been sexually assaulted or raped, your immigration status should not matter when reporting the crime to the police. If the police ask you your immigration status you do not have to answer them. It is not the duty of the police to enforce immigration law. Your immigration status is not legally relevant when you are a victim of a crime. If the police insist on asking about your immigration status, you could ask to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions. For legal questions about immigration, contact the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project at 34

43 or SALSA Legal Helpline at IX. LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT If you are a sexual assault victim with limited English proficiency, you may be entitled to free language assistance. WHO IS A LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP) INDIVIDUAL? If English is not your primary language and you have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English, you are limited English proficient, or "LEP." It is against the law for police, hospitals, sexual assault programs and other agencies to discriminate against you because you have a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English. 35

44 If you are an LEP victim of sexual assault and are trying to access services, you may have a right to language assistance. If you need assistance in advocating for your rights as an LEP, please contact your local sexual assault program listed at the back of this booklet. This booklet is also available in Spanish. X. IF YOU HAVE A DISABILITY If you have a disability and want to report a sexual assault to the police or go to court to testify, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations means that places of public accommodation, such as courthouses and police stations, cannot discriminate against you and must take reasonable action to make their services accessible. 36

45 If you need a reasonable accommodation to be able to report your sexual assault or otherwise participate in the legal process (for example, if you need the police to call you using a TTY line or need to have meetings in a place with a wheelchair ramp) you can inform the police, court, etc. and they should make all reasonable efforts to accommodate your needs. You may also want to contact one of the disability-based assistance organizations listed at the back of this booklet. XI. IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and are under the age of 18, different laws apply to you. Under the law you are considered a minor. If you are under the age of 18, you have more limited privacy rights than adults. For example, certain people, such as doctors, are required to report the abuse you experienced to the police 37

46 and/or Child Protective Services (CPS) or both. This is called mandated reporting. MANDATED REPORTING Mandated reporters are people like teachers, health care providers, counselors, nurses, child care providers, police officers and advocates. They are required by law to report the abuse you tell them about to Child Protective Services. Once CPS receives a report, they may investigate and/or take action. For more information about Child Protective Services contact DSHS Constituent Services at If you are under 18 and call a counselor or help line or crisis line, and tell the person on the phone that you have been sexually assaulted, they have to report the assault to CPS. Advocates at community sexual assault programs are 38

47 mandated reporters. mandated reporters. Attorneys are NOT ANONYMOUS CALLING However, you have the choice not to reveal any information that will identify you. If you call anonymously (without providing your age or name or any other information that can identify you) mandated reporters have no identifying information to report. WHAT IS THE AGE OF CONSENT? There is no universal age of consent for all legal issues related to your sexual assault. The age varies depending on the issue. Right to Consent to Sexual Intercourse In Washington, if you have sex and are under the age of 16, the law assumes you are not old enough to give consent. 39

48 However, this does not mean that anyone over age 16 who has sexual contact with anyone under age 16 is committing a crime. It depends on the age difference between them. Right to Consent to a Medical Examination or Treatment (Without Parental Notification) The age of consent in the State of Washington for a person to be medically examined without parental consent or notification is 13. Parental consent for a medical exam is usually required if you are under the age of thirteen. If you are thirteen years or older, and have been sexually assaulted, you may request and receive a medical examination without the consent of your parent. You also do not have to pay for the examination. 40

49 Beginning at age 13, you have more rights to make choices regarding your mental and physical health care. For example, you have the right to seek confidential counseling without the consent of your parents. However, you should always ask your doctor, counselor, or other treatment provider about exceptions and limits on what information they will keep confidential from your parents. Regardless of your age, you should tell your provider that you do not want them to disclose any information about you to anyone, including your parents, without your written consent. Unlike many states, Washington does not require parental notification or consent for a minor to get an abortion. 41

50 Right to File a Protection Order If you are 16 and older, you can file for a Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) or a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) on your own. You don t need a parent, a guardian or an attorney. If you are 15 or younger, you need a parent or guardian to file a SAPO or DVPO for you. A guardian is any adult you trust to file a SAPO or DVPO for you, as long as that person agrees to act as your guardian for the purpose of getting the protection order. XII. IF YOU CALL THE POLICE If you call the police because you have been sexually assaulted, it is likely a police report will be made. When a report is made, ask for the report number and the name of the person who took the report. Write it down and keep this information in a secure place. 42

51 When the police respond to your call, you have the right to receive from the police a written statement of the rights of crime victims and resources of local victim/witness programs. If you do not receive this information, please contact your local community based sexual assault program. The police and/or prosecuting attorney may NOT ask or require that you take a polygraph exam (lie detector) as a condition of moving forward with your case. If you delay in reporting the assault to the police, you still have the right to file a police report at ANY TIME. If you are discouraged by law enforcement from filing a report, you still have the right to file a police report. There is no time limit on your ability to file a police report. The reason law 43

52 enforcement may discourage you, particularly if significant time has passed, is because it is unlikely the case will get prosecuted. However, making the report may be very important to you, so don t be discouraged. It is your right to report criminal activity to law enforcement. If you want support or assistance with filing your report, you should contact your local community based sexual assault program to get the help of an advocate. Sometimes the police may ask you if you would like to prosecute the person who assaulted you. It is important to understand that it is not your decision whether or not the person who assaulted you will be prosecuted. Generally that decision is made by the prosecuting attorney in the county where the assault occurred. When the police ask you that question what they usually want to know is whether or not you 44

53 would cooperate with the prosecutor if the perpetrator does get prosecuted. It is ok to not know how you feel at the time you report. You will have time to decide and talk with your advocate about your options. XIII. CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and the person responsible for harming you is being charged with a crime and prosecuted in court, you are considered a crime victim regardless of the outcome of the case. As a crime victim you may be eligible for certain programs that can provide assistance to you. For example, Crime Victim Compensation is a program that may assist you in paying your medical bills related to the assault. The Address Confidentiality Program is also a program that may assist you in keeping your address confidential. For more information about these 45

54 programs, please contact your local sexual assault program listed at the back of this booklet. The criminal justice system is the process used to prosecute the person who harmed you. Sometimes the person will be referred to as the defendant, the perpetrator, the offender or the respondent. These are all legal terms for the same person. In Washington, the act of rape or sexual assault is a crime. This means that the State of Washington can prosecute people for committing those crimes. If the prosecution results in a conviction or guilty plea, the perpetrator may face punishment such as jail time or restitution. Each county in Washington has prosecuting attorneys who are responsible for prosecuting those individuals who commit crimes. The prosecutor is the person who may bring charges 46

55 against the person who harmed you. If so, the State is prosecuting the person who hurt you on behalf of the State of Washington, not on your individual behalf. It is important to understand that the prosecutor is acting on behalf of the state of Washington. The prosecutor is not your advocate and is limited in his or her ability to assert your interests and protect your privacy. You have the right to have a support person or advocate with you throughout the entire criminal court process. CRIME VICTIM S RIGHTS As a crime victim, surviving spouse or dependent of a crime victim, or you witness a crime, Washington State Law provides that reasonable efforts be made to ensure for the following rights: 47

56 A victim of a felony or gross misdemeanor crime shall have the following rights: RIGHT TO BE INFORMED You have the right to be informed of the outcome of the case, also known as the final disposition (e.g., whether or not the perpetrator was convicted). You have the right to know about any changes in the court dates to which you have been subpoenaed to attend. RIGHT TO BE HEARD You have the right to address the court whenever the defendant is being considered for release. This could apply to bail hearings, speedy trial rule violations and at sentencing hearings. You have the right to attend the court hearing and make a statement to the court. 48

57 RIGHT TO SUBMIT A VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT At the sentencing hearing you have the right to submit a victim impact statement to the court, which must be included in the pre-sentence report and made a part of the offender s file. A victim impact statement is a written statement that tells the court how the crime has affected you and what you would like to see happen to the defendant. The judge may consider your recommendations when determining the perpetrator s punishment. RIGHT TO ATTEND ALL COURT PROCEEDINGS THE DEFENDANT ATTENDS You have the right to attend trial and all other court proceedings the defendant has the right to attend unless a judge decides not to allow you to attend every proceeding. 49

58 You also have the right as a victim (or surviving spouse or dependent of a victim) to be present in court during trial if your testimony has already been given and no further testimony from you is required. RIGHT TO PROTECTION AS A VICTIM You have the right to receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising out of cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution and to be informed of the level of protection available. This means that if you are being threatened by the defendant or someone acting under the direction of the defendant (i.e. brother, friend, etc.) that law enforcement will investigate and should take steps to limit the threats. 50

59 RIGHT TO WITNESS FEES You have the right to receive any witness fees to which you are entitled. For example you may be entitled to have mileage or parking costs reimbursed when going to court and participating as a witness. RIGHT TO A SAFE WAITING AREA You have the right to have, whenever practical, a safe waiting area provided for you during court proceedings. RIGHT TO HAVE PROPERTY RETURNED You have the right to have any stolen or other personal property returned as soon as possible after completion of the case. For example, if your clothes, purse or other personal items were taken as evidence, these should be returned to you when the case is completed. 51

60 RIGHT TO HAVE YOUR EMPLOYER CONTACTED You may request that the prosecuting attorney contact your employer to minimize any problems related to your absence at work when you are required to appear in court. You also have the right to miss work for this sort of activity (See Section III: Right to Employment Leave). If your employer takes negative action against you because of these court appearances, you can contact the Sexual Violence Law Center at or Legal Voice at for legal information. RIGHT TO RESTITUTION You have the right to restitution when there is a felony conviction, unless the court determines it to be inappropriate. Restitution means money the perpetrator may be ordered to pay to cover the costs of specific expenses you have incurred as a victim of crime. Restitution is usually 52

61 limited to property damages. The victim advocate from the prosecutor s office can help you with any questions you may have about restitution as a crime victim. RIGHT TO NOTIFICATION OF HIV STATUS OF OFFENDER If the person who sexually assaulted you was convicted of assaulting you, you have the right to know their HIV status. If you are under 14, your parents or guardian has the right to that information on your behalf. If you would like to know the HIV status of the perpetrator, you need to tell the prosecuting attorney as soon as possible, so the prosecutor can request that as a condition of the perpetrator s sentence, an HIV test is conducted and the results are given to you. Then you need to contact the health department in the jurisdiction where the perpetrator was ordered 53

62 to take the HIV test. They will then provide you with the information. 54

63 APPENDIX A GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS Acquittal - When a jury or court finds the defendant not guilty, the defendant is acquitted. Advocate - Usually someone trained in sexual assault and legal issues who offers support and assistance to sexual assault survivors. An advocate may work for the prosecutor or at a community based agency. Affidavit - A sworn statement of the facts as you know them to be. Sometimes referred to as a Declaration. Anonymous Not named or identified. Anti-Harassment Order - An order issued by the court that orders a person to stop doing certain things that harass another person. 55

64 Attorney A lawyer. Authorization - Permission. Bailiff - A court employee who maintains order in the courtroom. Bail - The property or money a defendant pays to the court, in order to be released from jail prior to the trial, to ensure that the defendant will appear in court. Bond - The money paid to a bond company so that they will pay the bail for a person. The bond price is usually 10% of the bail amount. Charge/ Charged - When the prosecuting attorney formally accuses someone of having committed a criminal offense, that person is charged with a crime. 56

65 Civil (legal matters or cases) Legal issues that are not part of a criminal prosecution. Clerk (of the Court) - A court official who handles clerical matters like keeping records, filing documents and providing certified copies. Commissioner (of the Court) A type of judge who makes decisions relating to a particular subject matter. Confidential Private or secret. Consent When you give permission or agree to something. Contraception Birth control. Conviction - A decision by a court finding someone guilty of a crime. Court The official place and process for the administration of justice. This includes District 57

66 or Municipal Court (which handles matters such as small claims, some protection orders, vehiclerelated citations, and some misdemeanors) Superior Court (which handles all other civil and criminal matters) and the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Most types of cases referenced in this booklet are in Superior Court. Court rules The written explanation of legal procedures for court. There are rules that apply to civil cases and criminal cases throughout the State of Washington, which can be found at Most counties have additional rules specific to their courts, which can usually be located at the website for the Superior Court in that county. Default - When a court grants one party the relief they request because the other party fails to respond or attend a hearing. 58

67 Defendant - The person against whom a charge or claim is brought in court. Defense Attorney - The lawyer for the defendant. Discovery - The process attorneys (or pro se parties) use to prepare for trial, in which each side shares relevant information and evidence with the other side. Disclosed/disclosure When information is released or shared, it is disclosed. Dismissal - An order by the court that means the case is over. Disposition - The result or final outcome of a case. Docket A group of cases that are all scheduled for a hearing by a judge or commissioner at the 59

68 same time. (E.g., for a protection order hearing, you schedule a hearing on the protection order docket). When you arrive at court at the designated place and time, the court may Call the docket or have you check in with a clerk to confirm that you showed up for your hearing. Your hearing may not occur until after some of the other cases scheduled for the same Docket. Emancipation - When a teenager becomes legally competent to be his or her own guardian and is no longer subject to parental control. Ex Parte A special courtroom (or docket) where the court hears matters without notice to the other side. Felony A crime for which the defendant can be punished with more than a year in jail. Filing Submitting documents to the Clerk of the Court to put in the court file. 60

69 Forensic Exam A physical examination of the body that is designed to collect evidence to show that a crime was perpetrated upon that person. Guilty - When the defendant is determined to have committed the crime; he or she is guilty. Hearing - A court proceeding where a judge considers requests for either party in a case. Indigent Low income. The specific standard for indigence may vary based on where you go to court. One common definition is if your gross (pre-tax) income is 125% of the federal poverty guidelines (FPG) or lower. For example, for a family of four, 125% of the FPG is $27, per year. If your only income is public benefits, you qualify as indigent. 61

70 Judge - An elected or appointed public official with the authority to hear and decide cases in court. Judgment - The decision of a judge. Jury Usually a group of 12 people from the community randomly selected to consider evidence and decide the outcome of a criminal case. Minor Generally someone under the age of 18. Misdemeanor (and Gross Misdemeanor) A crime for which the defendant can receive a sentence of no more than a year in jail. A Gross Misdemeanor is more serious than a Misdemeanor, but less serious than a Felony. Motion - A request made to the court asking the judge to do something. A motion is usually heard at a hearing. 62

71 Offender - A person who has committed a crime. Oath - A pledge before testifying, every witness must take an oath that he or she will tell the truth. Party One of the people directly involved in the case. This person may or may not be represented by an attorney. The Parties to a case are usually the Plaintiff (or Petitioner or State of Washington) on one side, and the Defendant (or Respondent) on the other side. Perpetrator Also may be referred to as the offender, the defendant or the accused. It generally means the person who assaulted you. Plaintiff/Petitioner - Usually used in a civil legal proceeding, referring to the person who filed the civil action. 63

72 Pleadings A general term for all legal documents filed with the court. Police Report - Report made by the police containing the victim s initial statement at the time she or he reported the crime. Pre-sentence Report - A report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making a sentencing decision. Privilege A strong form of confidentiality protecting the privacy of your communication with certain professionals. You usually have a privileged relationship with your doctor, counselor, lawyer, clergy member, and sexual assault crisis center advocate, for example. Proceeding The court processes in which a case moves through the legal system. 64

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