Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per A.R.S §13-1404 “Sexual Abuse” occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual contact with any person who is fifteen (15) or more years of age, without consent of that person, or with any person who is under fifteen (15) years of age if the sexual contact only involves the female breast. This may also constitute as sexual conduct with a minor.
“Sexual contact” means any direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast by any part of the body or by any object or causing a person to engage in such contact. Sometimes these cases are referred to as “fondling cases”.
Watch this short video where David explains Sexual Abuse in Arizona, then continue reading to learn more about the Possible Punishments and Defenses below.
If you are being suspected of a sex crime and need an Arizona sexual abuse lawyer, contact our firm immediately as these can be serious and life-changing charges. Call 24/7 602-307-0808 or click here to fill out our confidential form and setup a Free Consultation.
Possible Punishment for Sexual Abuse
If the Sexual Abuse victim is under fifteen (15) years of age, then it is classified as sexual misconduct with a minor which is a class three (3) felony, and a Dangerous Crime Against a Child, which carries the following punishment:
- 2.5 years minimum in prison, five (5) years presumptive in prison, seven and one half (7.5) years maximum incarceration.
- If convicted of one previous predicate felony (which includes a prior DCAC, among other serious felonies), the range of punishment increases to a minimum eight (8) years, presumptive fifteen years (15), and maximum twenty-two (22) years.
- Because this is a DCAC, 100% of the prison time must be served before being eligible for release.
If the alleged Sexual Abuse victim is fifteen (15) years of age or over, then the crime is a class five (5) felony and carries the following punishments:
- On a first offense, punishment can be probation with zero (0) days up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of six (6) months to two and one half (2.5) years in custody.
- If the person has one (1) historical allegeable prior felony conviction, then the “prison only” range is one (1) to three and three quarters (3.75) years of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) historical allegeable prior felony convictions then the “prison only” range is three (3) years to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration.
Although this Sexual Abuse charge is not as serious as Sexual Conduct with a Minor or Child Molestation, it still carries very serious repercussions and will require you to Register as a Sex Offender for the rest of your life if the victim is under the age of 18. If convicted, you will not be allowed to have any contact with anyone under the age of eighteen (18) (this includes your own children), without going through numerous testing procedures and only with the consent of your probation officer.
Possible Defenses for Sexual Abuse
There are two defenses that are specifically outlined in the Defenses Statute A.R.S. §13-1407 that apply when the victim is fifteen (15), sixteen (16), or seventeen (17) years old only. The first is that the defendant did not know, and could not reasonably have known, the age of the victim, and the victim otherwise consented to the touching. Basically, under Arizona law, under the age of eighteen (18) you an incapable of consenting to sexual activity, so any sexual activity done with you is deemed to be unconsensual. However, this statute makes an exception and says that if the only reason the sexual contact was deemed “un-consensual” was because the victim is under age eighteen (18), but they consented in all other ways, and the defendant did not know of the age of the “victim”, we will not allow a prosecution for Sexual Abuse.
This situation often occurs when the minor lies about their age to the defendant. The second statutory defense applicable only with a 15-17 year old victim is that the defendant is under nineteen (19) years of age or attending high school, and is no more than twenty-four (24) months older than the victim and the conduct is otherwise consensual. This defense is designed to protect a young pair, who are so close in age, that it would be fair to criminalize an otherwise consensual sexual encounter.
A defense that is specifically outlined in the Defenses Statute ARS §13-1407, that is applicable to all Sexual Abuse charges, regardless of the victim’s age, is that the defendant was not motivated by a sexual interest when the contact occurred. This defense would argue that the defendant’s contact with the alleged “victim” was for some other purpose other than sexual gratification, such as accidental touching. Under the statute, this is not Sexual Abuse.
Additionally, many times charges for Sexual Abuse arise during the pendency of a divorce proceeding. Examples that we have seen are where the defendant’s soon to be ex-spouse, or an angry teenager who wants her father or step-father “out of the picture”, makes up these false allegations. It is important to challenge these charges immediately by reviewing how the report was initially received, how it was ultimately prepared, questioning any forensic interviewers who may have talked to the “victim,” obtaining any divorce paperwork that may have previously been filed, and potentially obtain a polygraph of the defendant in order to show that he is innocent. Cross examination and interviewing all parties involved is crucial to establishing this defense.
At DM Cantor, we have handled, and won, a very high percentage of Sex Crime cases involving private counsel in the State of Arizona. We have one of the largest libraries with research materials devoted to challenging accusations involving sex crimes, including Sexual Abuse. Our attorneys have been highly trained in the clinical and forensic interviewing techniques of alleged sexual assault victims. This allows us to properly question detectives and other mental health professionals who may have initially interviewed the alleged victim. If the interviewing process was not done correctly, it can often be shown that the detective “led” the alleged victim into giving the necessary answers required to charge the defendant.
Sexual Abuse is a Serious Crime that requires a Criminal Defense Specialist
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Your Constitutional Right to Remain Silent
One of the many defense tactics that our attorneys apply is what is known as a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that while the police had you in custody, they coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.
In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues.
Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; etc.
Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Sexual Abuse lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case. Be sure you review our Sexual Abuse case wins.
When selecting an attorney, it is recommend that the firm is an AV® rated (the highest attorney rating possible by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is a qualified Arizona Sexual Abuse Attorney and a Board Certified Sex Crimes Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. or a Free Initial Consultation, call us at 602-307-0808.