Chapter 7.69A RCW

CHILD VICTIMS AND WITNESSES

Sections

7.69A.010Legislative intent.
7.69A.020Definitions.
7.69A.030Rights of child victims and witnesses.
7.69A.040Liability for failure to notify or assure child's rights.
7.69A.050Rights of child victims and witnessesConfidentiality of addressNotice of rightPenalty.


Legislative intent.

The legislature recognizes that it is important that child victims and child witnesses of crime cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies and that their assistance contributes to state and local enforcement efforts and the general effectiveness of the criminal justice system of this state. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature by means of this chapter, to insure that all child victims and witnesses of crime are treated with the sensitivity, courtesy, and special care that must be afforded to each child victim of crime and that their rights be protected by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges in a manner no less vigorous than the protection afforded the adult victim, witness, or criminal defendant.

NOTES:

Reviser's note: "This chapter" has been substituted for "this act" in this section.



Definitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Crime" means an act punishable as a felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor under the laws of this state or equivalent federal or local law.
(2) "Child" means any living child under the age of eighteen years.
(3) "Victim" means a living person against whom a crime has been committed.
(4) "Witness" means a person who has been or is expected to be summoned to testify for the prosecution in a criminal action, or who by reason of having relevant information is subject to call or likely to be called as a witness for the prosecution, whether or not an action or proceeding has been commenced.
(5) "Family member" means child, parent, or legal guardian.
(6) "Advocate" means any person, including a family member not accused of a crime, who provides support to a child victim or child witness during any legal proceeding.
(7) "Court proceedings" means any court proceeding conducted during the course of the prosecution of a crime committed against a child victim, including pretrial hearings, trial, sentencing, or appellate proceedings.
(8) "Identifying information" means the child's name, address, location, and photograph, and in cases in which the child is a relative or stepchild of the alleged perpetrator, identification of the relationship between the child and the alleged perpetrator.
(9) "Crime victim/witness program" means any crime victim and witness program of a county or local law enforcement agency or prosecutor's office, any rape crisis center's sexual assault victim advocacy program as provided in chapter 70.125 RCW, any domestic violence program's legal and community advocate program for domestic violence victims as provided in chapter 70.123 RCW, or any other crime victim advocacy program which provides trained advocates to assist crime victims during the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

NOTES:

FindingsSeverability1993 c 350: See notes following RCW 26.50.035.
FindingsIntent1992 c 188: "The legislature recognizes that the cooperation of child victims of sexual assault and their families is integral to the successful prosecution of sexual assaults against children. The legislature finds that release of information identifying child victims of sexual assault may subject the child to unwanted contacts by the media, public scrutiny and embarrassment, and places the child victim and the victim's family at risk when the assailant is not in custody. Release of information to the press and the public harms the child victim and has a chilling effect on the willingness of child victims and their families to report sexual abuse and to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of the crime. The legislature further finds that public dissemination of the child victim's name and other identifying information is not essential to accurate and necessary release of information to the public concerning the operation of the criminal justice system. Therefore, the legislature intends to assure child victims of sexual assault and their families that the identities and locations of child victims will remain confidential." [ 1992 c 188 § 1.]
Severability1992 c 188: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 1992 c 188 § 10.]



Rights of child victims and witnesses.

In addition to the rights of victims and witnesses provided for in RCW 7.69.030, there shall be every reasonable effort made by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges to assure that child victims and witnesses are afforded the rights enumerated in this section. Except as provided in RCW 7.69A.050 regarding child victims or child witnesses of violent crimes, sex crimes, or child abuse, the enumeration of rights shall not be construed to create substantive rights and duties, and the application of an enumerated right in an individual case is subject to the discretion of the law enforcement agency, prosecutor, or judge. Child victims and witnesses have the following rights, which apply to any criminal court and/or juvenile court proceeding:
(1) To have explained in language easily understood by the child, all legal proceedings and/or police investigations in which the child may be involved.
(2) With respect to child victims of sex or violent crimes or child abuse, to have a crime victim advocate from a crime victim/witness program, or any other support person of the victim's choosing, present at any prosecutorial or defense interviews with the child victim. This subsection applies if practical and if the presence of the crime victim advocate or support person does not cause any unnecessary delay in the investigation or prosecution of the case. The role of the crime victim advocate is to provide emotional support to the child victim and to promote the child's feelings of security and safety.
(3) To be provided, whenever possible, a secure waiting area during court proceedings and to have an advocate or support person remain with the child prior to and during any court proceedings.
(4) To not have the names, addresses, nor photographs of the living child victim or witness disclosed by any law enforcement agency, prosecutor's office, or state agency without the permission of the child victim, child witness, parents, or legal guardians to anyone except another law enforcement agency, prosecutor, defense counsel, or private or governmental agency that provides services to the child victim or witness.
(5) To allow an advocate to make recommendations to the prosecuting attorney about the ability of the child to cooperate with prosecution and the potential effect of the proceedings on the child.
(6) To allow an advocate to provide information to the court concerning the child's ability to understand the nature of the proceedings.
(7) To be provided information or appropriate referrals to social service agencies to assist the child and/or the child's family with the emotional impact of the crime, the subsequent investigation, and judicial proceedings in which the child is involved.
(8) To allow an advocate to be present in court while the child testifies in order to provide emotional support to the child.
(9) To provide information to the court as to the need for the presence of other supportive persons at the court proceedings while the child testifies in order to promote the child's feelings of security and safety.
(10) To allow law enforcement agencies the opportunity to enlist the assistance of other professional personnel such as child protection services, victim advocates or prosecutorial staff trained in the interviewing of the child victim.
(11) With respect to child victims of violent or sex crimes or child abuse, to receive either directly or through the child's parent or guardian if appropriate, at the time of reporting the crime to law enforcement officials, a written statement of the rights of child victims as provided in this chapter. The written statement shall include the name, address, and telephone number of a county or local crime victim/witness program, if such a crime victim/witness program exists in the county.

NOTES:

Effective date2004 c 120: See note following RCW 13.40.010.
FindingsSeverability1993 c 350: See notes following RCW 26.50.035.



Liability for failure to notify or assure child's rights.

The failure to provide notice to a child victim or witness under this chapter of the rights enumerated in RCW 7.69A.030 shall not result in civil liability so long as the failure to notify was in good faith and without gross negligence. The failure to make a reasonable effort to assure that child victims and witnesses are afforded the rights enumerated in RCW 7.69A.030 shall not result in civil liability so long as the failure to make a reasonable effort was in good faith and without gross negligence.



Rights of child victims and witnessesConfidentiality of addressNotice of rightPenalty.

At the time of reporting a crime to law enforcement officials and at the time of the initial witness interview, child victims or child witnesses of violent crimes, sex crimes, or child abuse and the child's parents shall be informed of their rights to not have their address disclosed by any law enforcement agency, prosecutor's office, defense counsel, or state agency without the permission of the child victim or the child's parents or legal guardian. The address may be disclosed to another law enforcement agency, prosecutor, defense counsel, or private or governmental agency that provides services to the child. Intentional disclosure of an address in violation of this section is a misdemeanor.