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Arizona Age of Consent and Everything You Need To Know

There are a lot of misconceptions, miscommunications, and confusions surrounding the concept of consent. Under the sex crime laws, consent is an express agreement between parties to engage in sexual activities. In Arizona, the age of consent is described as the minimum age by which a person is deemed legally of age to give consent. A criminal defense lawyer in Arizona notes that the age of consent differs from state to state. Violating the age of consent law can mean a lot of legal trouble. The accused may face sex crime charges which carry steep and strict penalties upon conviction.

In Arizona, sex crimes are pursued vehemently. Sex crimes fall under the category of crimes that garner a strong emotional response from the public. Usually, defendants need to have a credible and experienced criminal defense lawyer in their corner to get the best possible outcome. Regardless of the conditions surrounding the case and possible aggravating factors, the prosecuting counsel will mostly seek harsh punishments for the offense. To better understand the age of consent in Arizona and the factors surrounding consent laws, read below.

What is the Age of Consent in Arizona?

The Arizona age of consent is pegged at 18 years. This is contained in A.R.S 13-1405. This means that a person who is 18 years or above is capable of making legal decisions and giving consent. Under the statute, it is considered illegal to engage in any form of sexual relations with anyone under the legal age of consent. This means that a person that is 20 years old cannot have sexual contact or relations with another that is 17 years of age. This could be grounds for strong sexual criminal charges like statutory rape.

Are There Consequences when Age of Consent Laws are Violated?

For clarity, statutory rape is different from criminal rape. Statutory rape involves consented sexual relations with a person that is below the age of consent. While the charge may be statutory rape, you should not be fooled into thinking consent can be used as a legal defense. The law is clear and unchanging in this aspect. If a person who is 20 years engages in oral or penetrative sexual activities with an 18-year-old partner, such a person may face felony charges.

The classification of the case as a felony charge will depend on the age of the other party. Statutory rape, according to Arizona laws, is broken down into several categories. Each of the categories has its associated punishment for offenders. The categories are;

Sexual Conduct with a Minor

This offense is characterized by sexual contact between a defendant of any age and a person that is under the age of 18. This charge is often brought up when the criminal defendant is within a 2-year age bracket from the minor. In this case, a person that is 19 years of age may be charged with sexual conduct with a minor who is 17 years. Also, it applies when two minors are involved in sexual contact. A person that is 17 may be charged with statutory rape for engaging in sexual contact with another, aged 14. If the other party is 15 years or older, the defendant may face felony charges punishable by a maximum of a year of prison time.

The offense graduates to a class 2 felony if the defendant is a guardian and if the other party is younger than 15. This means that having sexual contact with a 14-year-old as a stepparent, guardian, grandparent, or foster parent is classified as a class 2 felony. Teachers and priests are also affected.

A class 2 felony threatens a considerably harsher punishment. Defendants may face a lifetime prison sentence if the other party is 12 years or less. If the other party is between the age of 12 and 14, the defendant may face as long as 20 years prison sentence.

Child Molestation

Child molestation, according to Arizona law, is defined as non-penetrative sexual contact between a defendant of any age and a child below the age of 14. This charge applies if the defendant is older by 2 years or more. If the minor is 14, the case is regarded as a class 2 felony and punishable by 5 years prison time. However, the defendant may face up to 20 years if the other party is less than 14 years.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any sexual contact between a defendant of any age and a minor aged 14 or below. This sex crime charge carries steep punishment. However, the severity of the punishment will depend on the age of both parties and the kind of sexual contact.

Are There Exceptions To Age of Consent Law in Arizona?

Defendants facing sex crime charges on account of violation of age of consent law may be able to defend themselves by leveraging some exceptions provided by the law. Some of the exceptions to age of consent law include.

The Romeo and Juliet Law

Age is an important factor in sex crime cases. In some instances, both parties may be close in age and may use the Age Difference Defense. For this age difference defense, also known as the Romeo and Juliet law to work, the defendant is expected to be younger than 19. The other party is expected to be between the ages of 15 and 17. The sexual contact must have been consensual. The defendant is expected to still be in high school and not more than 2 years older than the other party.

For context, the Romeo and Juliet defense will be a valid strategy in the case of an 18-year-old defendant who was sexually involved with a 17-year-old partner.

Mistaken Identity

While this isn’t a valid defense in many states, Arizona residents can use this defense. Essentially, this defense seeks to establish that the other party lied about their age. The defense counsel will be required to establish that the defendant made reasonable attempts to confirm the other party’s age.

The Marital Exception

Marital exceptions offer a solid defense against sex crimes. However, it doesn’t offer a full blanket for all situations. For instance, a 20-year-old woman can marry a 17-year-old man and enjoy sexual contact with him. However, a husband may be held liable for rape if he forcefully has sexual contact with his wife.

The consequences of sex crimes are dire. People who have been accused of such heinous crimes need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to stand by them through the challenging times. Learn more about criminal offenses and how to get legal help at https://www.lhccriminallawyers.com/

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