Arizona Sexual Assault & Child Sexual Abuse Laws

Arizona Sexual Assault & Child Sexual Abuse Laws 2017-11-10T12:45:25+00:00
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As more and more cases of child sexual abuse and sexual assault make headlines, victims have gotten the courage to take action. You may be here because:

  • You or a loved one was sexually assaulted or abused as a child
  • You're curious about your legal options
  • You want accountability from the enablers of the abuse or assault

Our lawyers specialize in helping survivors of sexual crimes in civil court.

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— Brian Kent, Esq.
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If you or a loved one has recently become a victim of sexual assault or abuse, you may be curious about Arizona’s sexual assault laws. Arizona has sixteen state laws used to prosecute those who commit sexual assault and sex-related crimes. For victims and survivors, seeing their abuser or assaulter brought to justice is a vital part of the healing process. Of course, prosecuting sexual offenders also benefits society as a whole by taking dangerous predators off the streets.

Survivors should also be aware of how the civil courts can help them. A civil sexual abuse lawsuit can provide support in ways criminal courts cannot, such as:

  • Holding perpetrators accountable when they're not convicted
  • Holding third parties liable for enabling abuse
  • Providing financial support for personal and economic damages related to abuse

Founding partner Brian Kent began his career as a criminal prosecutor, but decided to make a change specialize in civil sexual abuse cases so he could do more to help victims. Our Arizona sexual abuse victims' lawyers can help you learn more about both sides of the process in a free consultation.

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State Laws For Child Sexual Abuse

portrait of sad young boy

Arizona takes sexual crimes against children extremely seriously, as you can see by the numerous laws against these crimes:

Molestation Of Child Under 15

If an adult makes any type of sexual contact with a child under 15, he or she can be charged with a Class 2 felony in Arizona. The punishment varies depending on the age of the offender and the victim: If the child is under 15 years old, the punishment is five years in prison; if the offender is at least 18 or tried as an adult and the child was age 12 or younger, the offender may be sentenced to a maximum sentence of life in prison and is ineligible for release until he or she has served 35 years; if the offender is at least 18 or tried as an adult and the victim is between ages 12-14, the presumptive sentence is 20 years.

Luring Of A Minor For Sexual Exploitation

Anyone who offers or solicits sexual contact with another person who he or she knows or has reason to know is a minor may be charged with luring of a minor for sexual exploitation – a Class 3 felony in Arizona punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison.

Aggravated Luring Of A Minor For Sexual Exploitation

This charge is similar to the previous one but involves the use of an electronic communication device (such as a computer or cell phone) to either transmit visual depiction of sexually explicit images or to offer or solicit sexual conduct with a minor.

Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor

Someone can be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor if they record, film, photograph, develop, or duplicate any visual depiction of a minor engaged in an exploitive exhibition of sexual conduct. This charge is also used against people who distribute, transport, receive, sell, purchase, transmit, possess, or in any way exchange this sexually explicit material involving children. Sexual exploitation of a minor is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor

A person can be charged with commercial sexual exploitation of a child if they’re involved with the production of visual depictions or live acts of children engaging in sexual conduct or exploitive exhibition, which is used for financial gain. This crime is a Class 2 felony, punishable by the same rules explained under “Molestation Of Child Under 15”.

Continuous Sexual Abuse Of A Child Under 14

If an adult sexually abuses a child under 14 in at least three separate incidents within a period of three months or more, that adult can be charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child. This is a Class 2 felony in Arizona.

Public Sexual Indecency To A Minor

According to Arizona law, a person commits public sexual indecency to a minor by intentionally or knowingly engaging in any act of sexual contact, oral sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or bestiality and is reckless about whether a minor is present to witness the act. Public sexual indecency to a minor is a Class 5 felony in Arizona and punishable by 1.5 years in prison.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse charges can be levied in cases involving both adults and minors, and are broken into two classifications. A person can be charged with sexual abuse if they intentionally or knowingly engage in sexual contact with anyone over age 15 without their consent, or with any person under 15 years old regardless of consent if the contact only involves the female breast.

Sexual abuse against victims over age 15 is a Class 5 felony punishable by 1.5 years in prison, while a charge involving a minor is a Class 3 felony punishable by 3.5 years.

Sexual Conduct With A Minor

An adult can be charged with sexual conduct with a minor by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sex with anyone under 18 years old. If the minor is under 15 years old, the crime will be charged as a Class 2 felony. Sexual conduct with minors 15 years old and older is a Class 6 felony punishable by one year in prison. If the minor was at least 15 years old but the adult was in a position of trust (such as a teacher, counselor, doctor, etc.) the adult will be charged with a Class 2 felony, which has much more severe punishments (See “Molestation Of A Child Under 15” for the punishment for a Class 2 felony).

State Laws Regarding Sexual Assault

Arizona’s criminal code has five different laws which deal with sexual crimes involving adults:

Sexual Assaultyoung depressed girl in corner

Anyone who intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent may be found guilty of sexual assault in Arizona. This crime is a Class 2 felony: First offenses are punishable by 5.25-14 years in prison; if the crime involves force or the threat of force against the victim or two or more previous felonies, the sentence is 14-28 years; if the victim was under 12 years old, sexual assault is punishable by life in prison.

Sexual Assault Of Spouse

Sexual assault of a spouse is handled differently than other sexual assault cases in Arizona. If a person sexually assaults their spouse, the first offense is a Class 6 felony punishable by one year in prison. In subsequent offenses, the charges can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Violent Sexual Assault

If a sexual assault involves the use of a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or the infliction of serious physical injury and a prior felony conviction for a sex offense, the offender will receive a natural life sentence in prison.

Sexual Misconduct; Behavioral Health Professionals

In Arizona, it’s illegal for a health professional, psychiatrist, or psychologist to have sexual intercourse with one of their patients or clients. This is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one year in prison.

Unlawful Sexual Conduct

Arizona has two separate laws which prohibit sexual conduct between employees of an adult or juvenile probation department and correctional employees. These employees can be charged with unlawful sexual conduct if they coerce someone to engage in sexual contact by threatening to negatively influence their supervision status or offering to positively influence their supervision status.

The penalties for this crime are more severe when minors are involved: if the minor is under 15, the employee will be charged with a Class 2 felony; if the victim is at least 15 but under 18, the employee will be charged with a Class 3 felony (punishable by 3.5 years in prison). If the victim was an adult, the employee will be charged with a Class 5 felony (punishable by 1.5 years).

How Civil Courts Help Survivors Of Sexual Assault & Abuse

Unfortunately, criminal prosecution often falls short of the full support survivors of sexual violence need. The criminal court system is primarily focused on punishing offenders, rather than directly helping victims. Sometimes, these courts fail to convict offenders which can cause even more trauma for victims. Our experienced Arizona sexual assault lawyers help survivors seek justice and get the financial support they need through the civil court system. We can help you learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.

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