Sexual assault is defined as “intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without the consent of such person.” Vaginal, oral, and/or anal penetration of any kind is considered sexual assault, as is oral contact with the genitals or anus. If the act in question does not involve penetration or oral contact, it is referred to as “sexual abuse.” Sexual assault and sexual abuse can be alleged between strangers, acquaintances, family members, partners, or spouses.
Sexual assault is a class 2 felony and carries with it a minimum sentence of 5.25 years and a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. For those with one prior felony conviction, the minimum jumps to 7 years and the maximum to 21 years. If the defendant has two or more prior felony convictions, a sexual assault charge carries a minimum of 14 years and a maximum of 28 years. Furthermore, if the sexual assault “involved the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury,” the defendant may be subject to life in prison with possible probation or pardon after 25 years. If a “date rape” drug, such as flunitrazepam, gamma hydroxy butyrate, or ketamine hydrochloride was used, three years is added to the final sentence. Conviction of sexual assault against a minor under the age of 15 may result in life in prison.
Sexual Conduct with a Minor
Sexual conduct with a minor is understood somewhat differently from sexual assault. If you are over 18, sexual conduct with anyone under the age of 18 is considered sexual conduct with a minor, regardless of the minor's actions or attitude. In Arizona, no one is able to give legal consent until they are 18 years of age. If the minor is under the age of 15, penalties drastically increase, as the offense is considered a dangerous crime against a child, resulting in lengthy mandatory minimum sentences.
Consequences of Rape Charges
The charges for sexual assault and sexual conduct with a minor are serious and can be life-changing. If convicted, a defendant may have to register as a sexual offender which can affect where one lives, one's job prospects, reputation, and basic rights. In addition, a sexual offender will have to remain in close contact with the police for the rest of their lives.
Defending Rape Charges in Arizona
Sex crime allegations must be defended aggressively and thoroughly in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Rape charges can be defended through a variety of tactics. At times, it might be relevant to question the credibility of the accuser, while in some cases, the defense might argue that the defendant did not know that the minor was under the age of 18. If the accuser was unable to legally consent due to incapacitation from drugs or alcohol, the prosecution should have to prove that the defendant knew that the accuser was unable to legally consent. At Sherick & Bleier, P.L.L.C, we will conduct an immediate investigation into your case, and use our expertise to reduce or dismiss charges, file motions, and explore alternatives to incarceration and sex offender registration. To discuss your case and representation, call us at 520-318-3939 or contact us through our online form.