If you have been charged with a sexual offense, the consequences of a conviction can impact your life and employment for many years. There are many different offenses under Arizona laws grouped under four different categories. Each category brings its own set of penalties and requirements accompanying each conviction. If you or a loved one has been charged with a sexual offense, meeting with an experienced defense attorney well-versed in defending sexual offenses in Arizona is imperative for formulating a sound defense.Sex offense charges can be damaging to your life, family, reputation, and your freedom. A sex offense conviction can lead to very long prison sentences and may require you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Sex crime charges can be brought without any physical evidence, only relying on another person's statements. With so much at stake, you should consider talking to an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney who will fight to keep you out of jail and keep your record clean.
A sex offense can range from an unwanted touch to rape, or from sexual exposure of genitalia or breasts to being involved in any kind of child pornography to identify a few. Understanding your charges is the first step in moving forward toward the best resolution.
Is the classification of sexual offenses that occur when a person exposes his or her genitalia or breasts to another. Not all situations qualify. The key here is if the act would offend or alarm the victim, it can be identified as indecent exposure. This is a pivotal piece of evidence when attempting to prove indecent exposure. If recklessness and/or the intention of causing harm are demonstrated, the charge of indecent exposure is the likely result. Breastfeeding and brief nudity in a locker room setting are not considered indecent exposure.
Under Arizona law, engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact without consent can be charged as sexual assault. Lack of consent does not only refer to a lack of verbal consent. If the victim does not have the ability or capacity to consent to sexual contact, it could be considered sexual assault. Lack of consent can be attributed to intoxication, mental or physical impairment, or if the victim is underage.
Sexual assault is a class 2 felony. The presumptive sentence for sexual assault is 7 years. Depending on the facts surrounding the sexual assault, the sentence can be reduced to 5.25 years in prison, or increased to 14 years in prison.
Sexual assault alleging the use of a “date rape” drug can increase the prison sentence by an additional 3 years. If the sexual assault involves the infliction of serious physical injury, the defendant may face a maximum of life imprisonment without the eligibility of probation or release.
A second felony sexual assault conviction carries a presumptive sentence of 10 and a half years in prison, up to a maximum of 21 years. A third or subsequent felony sexual assault conviction carries a presumptive sentence of more than 15 years in prison, up to a maximum of 28 years in jail.
Sexual conduct with a minor involves intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under 18 years of age. In some cases, the defendant may claim that sex with the minor was consensual. However, an individual under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to have sex. This is sometimes known as statutory rape.
Statutory rape is a felony. If the defendant has sex with someone between the ages of 15 and 18, statutory rape is considered a Class 6 felony. However, if the individual is under the age of 15, sexual conduct can be charged as a Class 2 felony. Sexual conduct with a minor under 15 years old is punishable by a maximum of 27 years. Defendants with a prior felony conviction can face increased penalties.
Arizona law provides for increased penalties for individuals convicted of “dangerous crimes against children.” This includes a number of crimes committed against a minor who is under the age of 15, including sexual assault, molestation, sexual conduct with a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual abuse, child prostitution, or sex trafficking.
If a person is convicted of committing a dangerous crime against children, such as sexual conduct of a minor under the age of 12, they may face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without eligibility for probation or release.
Is another example of a very serious sexual offense with very serious implications. It is illegal everywhere in the United States to possess, distribute, create or sell pornographic materials that contains children under the age of 18. State and federal authorities will pursue these charges if it is found that state lines were crossed at any point. Federal statutes 18 U.S.C 2251, 18 U.S.C 2251A, 18 U.S.C. 2252, 18 U.S.C. 2252A and 18 U.S.C. 2260 all address sexual abuse of children, including distribution or possession of child pornography and the exploitation of minors. Aside from fines, prison and other penalties, a child pornography conviction requires the offender to register as a sex offender making it a challenge to find a place to live and work. A Class 2 felony, a child pornography conviction is likely to result in 10-24 years in prison per offense.
Arizona has some of the harshest child pornography penalties in the country. Over the past decade, the number of prosecutions for child pornography has increased dramatically. The penalties for a child pornography conviction have also increased greatly. One of the reasons for increased prosecution and penalties is that with technological advances, it is easier and faster for individuals to be able to access pornographic images online. Within a matter of minutes, they can exchange, distribute, and download thousands of image and video files.
Prosecutors can bring a separate criminal charge for each image of child pornography the defendant possesses. This means that a defendant who has 20 images of child pornography can be charged with 20 counts of possession. This means that a defendant can face multiple life sentences for having images on their computer, even if they never touched a child.
Child pornography charges fall under the category of “sexual exploitation of a minor.” A person commits sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly recording, filming, photographing, duplicating, distributing, receiving, selling, transmitting, exchanging, or possessing any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct.
A conviction for possessing an image of child pornography carries a presumptive sentence of 17 years in prison, with a minimum of 10 years, and a maximum of 24 years for each violation. In cases where the defendant possesses a large number of files or images depicting child pornography, they may face federal child pornography charges.
Are other types of serious sexual offenses and they have equally stringent penalties. In Arizona, it is statutory rape when charges are brought when a there is sexual conduct between a child 14 years or younger and an adult. Additionally, illegal sexual conduct occurs when the victim is 14 years or younger or if the sexual conduct occurs between a victim 15 – 17 years of age and the accused offender is at least two years older than the victim.
Another type of sexual offense which occurs when a person is paid money for sexual acts. Prostitution and solicitation have varying consequences depending on the extent of the offense. A person who works at a home of prostitution, such as a brothel, may be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor where someone receives money for sexual acts is charged with a Class 5 felony. Prostitution charges can result when the person performing the sexual acts receives money, but they also can include a wide range of charges against anyone that financially benefits from the act. A madam or pimp—the person who runs the business and connects the clients with the prostitutes--can be charged with a sexual offense as well as the person paying for a prostitute’s services.
Under Arizona law, “prostitution” means offering, agreeing or engaging in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement. This means that a prostitute, a potential customer, or a pimp can all be charged with prostitution. Many people facing solicitation charges feel like it should not be a crime for two adults to engage in a consensual sexual agreement; however, state and local jurisdictions like to take a tough stance on prostitution.
A first-time conviction for prostitution is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and can result in a minimum of 15 days in jail. A second offense can result in 30 days in jail. In addition to state laws, individual cities can enact their own penalties for solicitation for prostitution. Under Tucson City Code Sec. 11-28, a first-time conviction for soliciting a prostitute can result in up to six months in prison.
One of the most serious repercussions of a sex offense conviction is the requirement to register as a sex offender. After a defendant serves their prison time, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) determines if the individual is registered as a sex offender. The DPS provides identifying information to the sheriff’s office, and the offender is required to register with their county sheriff within 10 days of their release. They are also required to update their registration every year, and must notify the sheriff’s office if they move.
Sex offenders are classified according to their risk level, from 1 to 3. Certain offenders are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or child-care facility. The DPS has established the sex offender registry website which allows citizens to search for level 2 and 3 sex offenders in their communities. This is a publicly available website, which shows the offender’s name, description, photograph, home address, and specific offense.
The registry where you are required to sign up If you are convicted of a sexual offense was established to protect children and other vulnerable populations against sex offenders. The rules of Jacob Wetterling’s Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act of 1994 as well as Megan’s Law governs these registries.
These registries are very limiting for the convicted sex offender and include:
• Facing varying types of requirements of supervision by a probation officer
• Receiving a required time-period depending on where you live for mandatory supervision
• Reporting your address regularly
• Registering your vehicle annually with the motor vehicle department
• Experience limitations as to where you may live, depending on the offense (child-related offenses prohibit
the offender from living within 1000 feet of a school)
• Be restricted by landlords lawfully
A sexual offense of any kind has possibly severe and life-altering consequences. If you have been charged with a sexual offense, you must find experienced legal representation immediately. Without it, your chances of success are seriously limited and the impact on your future, dire, if you are convicted. If you are convicted, your immediate challenge will be facing fines, prison time, and possible felony charges. Your long term potential headaches will include inclusion in the sexual offenders registry and being viewed as a public pariah for years to come.
Hiring a qualified attorney who can explain the sexual offense law and connect how it applies to your specific situation is vital. Your attorney will also advocate for you in court, making sure your rights are protected and your best options for an acquittal are offered.
At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman, our lawyers are here to help individuals and their families throughout Tucson, Arizona. There may be a number of legal defenses available in your case to fight a criminal conviction. Sex crimes carry serious penalties and can have lifelong consequences. Our team of experienced attorneys are committed to fighting for our clients to keep them out of jail so they can get back to living their lives.