Sexual conduct with a minor is a very serious offense, and any person convicted of it is required to register as a sex offender. Because of this, it is extremely important to speak with a Phoenix sexual conduct with a minor lawyer as soon as possible. Sexual conduct with a minor is defined by A.R.S. § 13-1405(A), which states that “[a] person commits sexual conduct with a minor by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under the age of 18.”
It is important to note that “sexual intercourse” is defined in a much broader way than many people think. “Sexual Intercourse” under Arizona law means “penetration into the penis, vulva, or anus by any part of the body or by any object or masturbatory contact with the penis or vulva.” To get an idea of how broad this definition is, one must look no further than State v. Florez, 241 Ariz. 121 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2016), where the Court of Appeals held that a clothed defendant’s act of knowingly stimulating his penis by rubbing it against the body of a clothed victim was “sexual intercourse” under Arizona law. Unlike “sexual intercourse,” “oral sexual contact” means exactly what one would think.
It is important to note that the intentionally or knowingly requirement in A.R.S. § 13-1405(A) only applies to the act of sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact, not the victim’s age. To obtain a conviction for sexual conduct with a minor, the State need only prove the victim’s actual age and is under no obligation to prove the defendant’s knowledge of that age. If you’re facing sex with a minor charges in Arizona, and have questions about the laws, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Phoenix.
However, it is important to note that there are several statutory defenses to a charge of sexual conduct with a minor:
Lastly, it is a defense to a prosecution for sexual conduct with a minor if a consenting victim is 15-, 16-, or 17-years age, and the defendant is under 19-years-old or attending high school and is no more than 24 months older than the victim. See A.R.S. § 13-1407(E).
For more information about potential defenses to sex with a minor charges, contact a skilled Phoenix sexual conduct with a minor lawyer at Stone Rose Law.
Sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15 is a class 2 felony punishable according to Arizona’s Dangerous Crimes Against Children statute, otherwise known as A.R.S. § 13-705. That statute requires a life sentence, without the possibility of release for at least 35 years, whenever the defendant is 18 years of age or older, and the victim is 12 years of age or younger. However, the preceding rule does not apply to masturbatory contact. The penalties for sexual conduct with a minor are also severe, but slightly less so, if the victim is 12-, 13-, or 14-years-old. In that case, prison is mandatory upon conviction, and the range of penalties faced by the defendant is between 13 and 27 years. If the victim is between the age of 15 and 18-years-old, then the offense is a class 6 felony punishable by a prison term of up to two years. Regardless of the victim’s age, a conviction for sexual conduct with a minor will always include mandatory sex offender registration. The penalties for sex with a minor are severe, making it all the more important to hire a Phoenix sexual conduct with a minor attorney as soon as possible following charges.
Adults are not the only ones who can be charged with sexual conduct with a minor, as young people are not immune from prosecution. Indeed, they may face the same severe consequences as an adult in the event they are convicted. The very lengthy sentences described above can be imposed on someone as young as 14 years old because Arizona law allows for the prosecution of children as young as 14 years of age in the adult criminal courts. The prosecutors who file charges decide whether to charge a minor as an adult.
Cases involving charges of sexual conduct with a minor typically involve a battle over the defendant’s release conditions. Usually, the State will attempt to have the defendant held in jail without a pending bond trial. For the court to hold the defendant non-bondable, it must contain an adversarial hearing and make specific findings consistent with A.R.S. § 13-3961(D), which provides in part:
[A] person who is in custody shall not be admitted to bail if the person is charged with a felony offense and the State certifies by motion, and the court finds after a hearing on the matter that there is clear and convincing evidence that the person charged poses a substantial danger to another person or the community or engaged in conduct constituting a violent offense, that no condition or combination of conditions of release may be imposed that will reasonably assure the safety of the other person or the community and that the proof is evident or the presumption great that the person committed the offense.
A bail hearing typically occurs early on in a case. Thus, those charged with sexual conduct with a minor must retain the services of an experienced sexual conduct with a minor lawyer early in the process. Otherwise, an adverse bail determination could mean that they will spend several months in jail as their case winds through the court system. If you or a loved one has been accused of sexual conduct with a minor, call Stone Rose Law now at (480) 498-8998 or contact us online.