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Sex Crimes

Sex crime defense attorneys in Arizona

SEX CRIME DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN ARIZONA

Arizona Sex offenses, including Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Child Molestation, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault (Rape), and Indecent Exposure are some of the most serious crimes in the State of Arizona.  They are severely punished, and Arizona carries some of the harshest sentencing structures for sex crimes in the nation.

 

Sex Crimes can often be complicated due to the types of evidence presented (expert testimony concerning behavior and scientific evidence, as well as testimony from children that may make allegations spanning over several years, etc.), and they carry with them a high level of emotion.

 

These crimes also carry with them harsh mandatory consecutive prison sentences, and an ugly taint that could follow someone around for the rest of their lives through sex offender registration requirements.  If you are being investigated, or have been charged with a sexual offense, you need a seasoned attorney advising you and protecting your rights.

 

HIGH CHANCE FOR FALSE SEX OFFENSE ALLEGATIONS

Sex crimes are the types of crimes that inherently allow for some reports to be extremely exaggerated or just flat out fabricated.  False allegations can stem from a number of factors, including a reporting party being angry, bitter, mistaken or confused.  Also, a person’s life circumstances may make them more likely to be the target of a false allegation, such as a highly contested divorce, or child custody battle.

 

Once a report is made to law enforcement, there will be a vigorous investigation.  It is in your best interest to immediately consult an attorney if you have any thoughts that you may be a target of an investigation.  The detectives that are investigating these offenses are seasoned and well-trained in investigative techniques and forensic interviewing specifically for these types of crimes.  These investigations generally start out clandestinely, and law enforcement will almost undoubtedly set up a “confrontation call” where the reporting party will make a scripted and recorded call, with law enforcement present, to the alleged suspect to.  These calls generally involve the reporting party asking the alleged suspect why they did something, and they will want an explanation.  These calls are not protected, and any statements made to the reporting party and thought to be in private, are being recorded in this set-up call.  Moreover, law enforcement may lure an alleged suspect in, and get them to talk in what may seem like a harmless conversation that may very well turn into an interrogation.

 

If you are under investigation and have been arrested, it is very important to contact an experienced attorney with knowledge in this esoteric area of the law, and with experience dealing with countless law enforcement officers throughout the years.  Do not talk to law enforcement or answer any questions over the phone in what may seem like a harmless conversation, until you speak to a seasoned attorney familiar with these types of investigations and prosecutions.

 

TYPES OF SEX OFFENSES WE HANDLE:

 

SEXUAL ASSAULT (Rape): ARS 13-1406

Sexual Assault or Rape occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without consent of such person.

 

Sexual Assault is a Class 2 Felony that has its own sentencing structure.  These offenses also carry mandatory sex offender registration requirements, and the allegation itself may carry profound negative impacts.  A first time Sexual Assault offense carries with it a minimum term of 5.25 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 7 years, and a maximum sentence of 14 years.  These ranges go up, depending on whether the person has any allegeable priors.  Also, if any type of drug has been used in the offense (i.e., date rape drug, roofie, etc.), an additional 3 years will be added to the sentence.  Further, if the Sexual Assault involved any intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury, the person can be sentenced from 25 years to life in prison.  All prison sentences served under this section are at a hard 100% time.  There is no soft 85% time with this type of conviction.

 

MOLESTATION OF A CHILD: ARS 13-1410

Child Molestation occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in, or causes a person to engage in, sexual contact (except sexual contact with the female breast, see Sexual Abuse, ARS 13-1402) with a child under 15 years of age.  This is an offense that is essentially a “touching” or “fondling” of a child’s genitals or anus.  It does not require any type of penetration (that is “intercourse” punishable by the Sexual Conduct with a Minor statute).

 

“Sexual Contact” means any direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast by any part of the body or by any object or causing a person to engage in such contact.

 

Child Molestation is a Class 2 Felony and is punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children (“DCAC”) under A.R.S. 13-705.  This offense carries a mandatory prison sentence with a minimum of 10 years prison, a presumptive sentence of 17 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison (these numbers are similar to the sentencing range for Second Degree Murder in Arizona).  Because Child Molestation is a DCAC, the person must serve 100% of the prison sentence before release eligibility.  Further, if the person is convicted of two or more counts of Child Molestation, the sentences MUST run consecutive to each other (stacked or one on top of the other).  As with the other offenses listed here, a Molestation conviction requires a person to register as a sex offender.

 

SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH A MINOR: ARS 13-1405

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 18 years old.  Sexual intercourse includes sexual intercourse, or anything involving “penetration”, including any oral sex.

 

Punishment for Sexual Conduct with a Minor is dependent upon the age of the victim.  If the person is over the age of 18, and the victim is 15, 16 or 17 years of age, the offense is a non-dangerous Class 6 Felony, that carries probation eligibility, and a possible prison range of 4 months to 2 years.  If the person is over the age of 18, and the victim is 14 or under, it is a Class 2 Felony punished as a Dangerous Crime Against Children under A.R.S. 13-705.  These offenses carry mandatory sex offender registration requirements.

 

SEXUAL ABUSE: ARS 13-1402

Sexual Abuse occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual contact with any person who is 15 or more years of age without consent of that person, or with any person that is under 15 years of age if the sexual contact involves only the female breast.

 

“Sexual Contact” means any direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast by any part of the body or by any object or causing a person to engage in such contact.

 

Sexual Abuse is a non-dangerous Class 5 Felony if the victim is 15 years old or older.  A first time non-dangerous Class 5 Felony carries a sentencing range of probation eligibility for a first-time offender, with a possible prison sentencing range of 6 months to 2.5 years in prison.  However, if the victim is under 15 years of age, Sexual Abuse is a Class 3 Felony and is punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children under A.R.S. 13-705.  A Class 3 DCAC is probation eligible, but also carries a possible prison sentencing range of 5 to 15 years.  A DCAC requires 100% of the sentence be served.

 

INDECENT EXPOSURE: ARS 13-1402

Indecent Exposure occurs when a person exposes his or her genitals or anus, or a female exposes the areola or nipple of her breast (excluding breastfeeding), and another person is present, and the defendant is reckless about whether such other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.

 

Indecent Exposure is one of those offenses that is dependent upon the facts and requires the person to be “reckless” about whether a “reasonable” person would be alarmed by a certain act.  A person knowingly walking into a restroom or locker room may have some different expectations than someone walking into a church or a classroom.

 

Indecent Exposure is a Class 1 Misdemeanor if the person who witnessed the exposure was 15 years of age or older.  A Class 1 Misdemeanor in Arizona carries a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months, and a fine up to $2500, including an 84% surcharge, and probation up to 3 years.  If the person who witnessed the exposure was under 15, then the offense is a Class 6 Felony.  This offense is not punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children.  A non-dangerous Class 6 Felony in Arizona is probation eligible and carries a possible prison sentence range of 4 months to 2 years.  This offense carries mandatory sex offender registration requirements.

 

PUBLIC SEXUAL INDECENCY: ARS 13-1403

Public Sexual Indecency occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in an act of sexual contact , oral sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or bestiality (which is an act involving contact between a person’s mouth, vulva, or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal) while another person is present, and the defendant is reckless about whether the other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.

 

Similar to the offense of Indecent Exposure, this is a crime that is analyzed and defended on whether or not the defendant was “reckless”, and the other person, as a “reasonable person” was offended.  Had the defendant taken steps to hide his actions?  Was the other person in a time and place where he or she should have been offended?  Each case requires an analysis and investigation into these possible defenses.

 

If the other person who witnessed the sex act is 15 or older, the crime is charged as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  A Class 1 Misdemeanor in Arizona is up to 3 years’ probation with up to 6 months jail, and a maximum of a $2500 fine.  If the person who witnessed the act is under 15, then the offense is charged as a non-dangerous Class 5 Felony.  A first time non-dangerous Class 5 Felony is probation eligible with a possible prison range of 6 months to 2.5 years.  This offense carries mandatory sex offender registration requirements.

 

FAILURE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER: ARS 13-3821 AND 13-3824

In Arizona, a person must register as a Sex Offender if residing either permanently, or temporarily in the State, and were convicted of certain felony sex crimes, or attempted sex crimes, in Arizona or any other jurisdiction, so long as the other jurisdiction’s laws are substantially similar to Arizona’s laws.

 

Even if a person convicted of a registration required offense is not an Arizona resident, they may have to register in Arizona if certain requirements are met, including employment in Arizona for an aggregate of 30 days in a calendar year, or enrolled in school in Arizona for more than 14 days consecutively or 30 days in the aggregate in a calendar year.  If the defendant was convicted as a juvenile (adjudicated) of one of the specified crimes, the duty to register terminates at the age of 25, or the court may order the termination of the duty upon successful completion of probation.

 

Registering as a Sex Offender in Arizona is compulsory for life and requires a person to go to the local sheriff’s office in the county they reside and inform that office of their new address, or change of name, within 10 days of “entering and remaining” in that county.  There is a $2500 initial registration fee, and then a $1000 annual fee for the license registration.  The person also must get a new driver’s license every year, with a new photograph and updated address or contact information.  Also, within 72 hours, excluding weekends and legal holidays, after moving from the person’s residence within a county or after changing the person’s name, the person must inform the sheriff in writing of the new residence, address, or name.  If the defendant moves from a county to a new county, the defendant must inform the sheriff of the county they are leaving, and the sheriff in the new county.

 

A person in Arizona who merely fails to obtain the annual driver’s license will be charged with a non-dangerous Class 6 Felony.  All other violations under this section will be charged as a Class 4 Felony, which can carry harsh sentencing ranges depending on how many historical priors can be alleged.  For a first-time offender for a Class 4 Felony, it is probation eligible with a possible prison sentencing range of 1 to 3.75 years (presumptive 2.5 years).  If the person has 1 historical (allegeable) prior felony conviction, the offense will be treated as a Class 4 Felony Category 2 (repetitive offense) where there is no probation eligibility, and a prison sentencing range of 2.25 years to 7.5 years (presumptive 4.5 years).  If the person has 2 historical prior felony convictions, the offense will be treated as a Class 4 Felony Category 3 (repetitive offense).  There is no probation eligibility in Category 3, and the prison sentencing range is a minimum of 6 years, maximum of 15 years, and a presumptive sentence of 10 years prison.

 

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF A MINOR (CHILD PORNOGRAPHY): A.R.S. 13-3553

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor is an offense related to the making, distribution, or possession of child pornography.  This type of conduct is criminalized in every jurisdiction.  But the State of Arizona carries some of the harshest penalties in the nation, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office aggressively prosecutes these offenses.  In Arizona, Sexual Exploitation of a Minor is a Class 2 Felony punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children under A.R.S. 13-705.  Because this offense is a DCAC, a person must serve 100% of the prison sentence imposed.

 

Law enforcement is generally easily able to detect these offenses and track them to specific IP addresses, which leads them to investigate, and ultimately obtain a warrant for a person’s home to seize all of the person’s electronic devices and anything on them.  Law enforcement will generally serve the warrant on the person’s residence whether or not the person is there, and whether or not the person’s family is there.  During the execution of the warrant, law enforcement will seize all electronic devices, including the devices you have on the person when they make contact with them. There may not be an arrest right away, but law enforcement will confiscate all of these items and maintain them for processing.  Law enforcement may be able to forensically evaluate the devices immediately, or it could take months.  Regardless, it is very important to not discuss anything with law enforcement at any point in time, and to not discuss the situation with anybody except an attorney experienced in handling these matters.  There are several issues that may be raised in this type of investigation  (i.e., search warrant, computer forensic examination, third party culpability etc.), and if you are the target of an investigation, it is very important to immediately contact a seasoned attorney familiar with this esoteric area of the law.

 

This type of offense is extremely serious, and the State treats it harshly.  Many people have the misconception that “just possessing photographs” is treated quite differently than committing the actual act.  However, that is not true at all.  Possessing just 1 photograph of Sexually Exploitative material is a Class 2 Felony, Dangerous Crime Against Children, carrying a sentence of 10 to 24 years in prison, the presumptive sentence being 17 years.  However, the State never charges just one count.  An indictment in most Arizona Superior Courts consist of 10 counts, all of them carrying a minimum sentence of 10 years. By law, these sentences must run consecutively (stacked), so the minimum sentence at trial is generally 100 years.  These offenses are as serious as any offense in the State of Arizona.  It is important to consult with an attorney who can advise you through an investigation, and prosecution.

 

LURING A MINOR FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: ARS 13-3554

In Arizona, Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person lures or offers sex with a person knowing, or having reason to know the person is under the age of 18.

 

This offense is generally charged in situations where a person is chatting online with a police officer who is holding himself out to be a juvenile (14 generally).  If a person attempts to solicit some type of sexual behavior, the person can be charged and convicted with Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation despite the fact that the person they were dealing with was really a police officer over the age of 18.  In these “sting operations” law enforcement will generally reach out to people and engage with them.  If a person is predisposed, they unknowingly engage with law enforcement, who is holding themselves out as a 14 year old girl.  Law enforcement is very skilled in these sting operations, and knows not to push the person, but after a meeting is arranged, law enforcement will ask the person to bring certain items (i.e., 3 Red Bulls, condoms, 4 Butterfinger Bars, etc.) to corroborate.

 

Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation is a Class 3 Felony.  If the arrest arose out of a “sting operation” where the person was communicating with a law enforcement officer posing as a person under the age of 15, the offense is probation eligible, but carries a possible prison sentencing range of 2 to 8.75 years prison, with the presumptive being 3.5 years.  If the arrest arose out of a situation where the person was communicating with an actual person under the age of 15, the offense is punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children under A.R.S. 13-705.  This offense is probation eligible, but carries a possible prison sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison, with a presumptive of 10 years.  Because this is punishable as a Dangerous Crime Against Children, any person convicted must serve 100% of the sentence. Also, Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation is an offense that requires sex offender registration.

Have you been arrested? Do you need help avoiding jail time?