Have you been accused of a sex crime? The stigma of being charged strikes fear in the hearts of most people. Acquaintances, co-workers, and even family members may assume you are guilty. Your life can be turned upside overnight. You’ll wonder how you’ll be able to defend against the charge, and whether you’ll have to register as a sex offender.
This is one area of the law where it pays to have an experienced sex crime lawyer at your side as early in the process as possible. As a result, if you learn you are being investigated for a possible sex crime, or if the police try to question you, talk to an attorney at Castañeda Law before doing anything or speaking to anyone. We can begin to protect your rights even if you have not yet been arrested, and even if no formal charge has been made. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
What is a Sex Crime?
Chapter 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes is entitled “Sexual Offenses.” It includes many sex crimes, although other related offenses appear elsewhere in the statutes. The following is a list of the more commonly charged sex offenses, along with a brief explanation of each:
- Sexual Assault. This offense consists of engaging in sexual intercourse (or oral sexual contact) without the other person’s consent. It includes forcible rape, the administration of a date rape drug, coerced sex, as well as sexual intercourse with a person who may be unable to consent effectively because of a mental disorder or other condition. Sexual assault is a class 2 felony, and the statute contains minimum terms in prison, even for a first offense.
- Sexual Abuse. If you engage in “sexual contact” with a person who is over 14 without that person’s consent, you have committed sexual abuse. Sexual contact means touching, directly or indirectly, the private parts of another person. If the other person is under 15, the offense consists of contact with the female breast only. Sexual abuse is a felony, although the level will depend upon the age of the alleged victim.
- Sexual Misconduct. This offense applies only to behavioral health professionals, psychiatrists and psychologists, who have sexual intercourse with a client currently under they care or supervision. This offense is a felony.
- Molestation of a Child. Sexual contact (other than with the female breast) with a child under the age of 15 is a class 2 felony. It is considered a dangerous crime against children, and is therefore subject to the special sentencing rules in R.S. 13-705. This includes minimum sentences, and enhanced penalties for prior felony offenders.
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child. This statute applies to a person who engages in three or more acts of sexual assault, sexual conduct (intercourse or oral sexual contact) or molestation of a child under the age of 14. This crime is a felony, and, like child molestation, is a dangerous crime against children. In order to be convicted of this crime, the “trier of fact” (usually, the jury) must unanimously agree that at least three such acts occurred.
- Sexual Conduct with a Minor (“Statutory Rape”). Engaging in sexual conduct with anyone who is under the age of 18, is a felony. However, the specific classification depends upon how old the alleged victim is, and whether the suspect is in a “position of trust” with respect to the minor. A position of trust includes, parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, clergy, and others.
- Prostitution is defined as any agreement under which one person engages in, or offers to engage in, sexual conduct in exchange for money or other consideration. The variations on this offense include enticement for purposes of prostitution, procurement, pimping, child prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution, pandering, and more. Most of these are felonies, although the act of prostitution itself – engaging in sex for money – is a class 1 misdemeanor for a first or second offense.
- Indecent Exposure. Exposing one’s genitals, anus, or specific portions of the female breast in the presence of another person, and being “reckless” concerning whether that person would be “offended or alarmed,” is a class 1 misdemeanor. If the person present is under 15, or if the defendant has prior history of certain sex crimes, indecent exposure is a felony. In that case, a conviction carries specific sentencing enhancements.
There are numerous other sex crimes on the books in Arizona. They include public sexual indecency, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a minor (including child pornography), adultery, unlawful sexual conduct (applies to adult probation department employees and juvenile court employees), voyeurism, bestiality, and more.
Will I have to Register as a Sex Offender?
Under A.R.S. 13-3821, a conviction of any one of over 20 crimes will trigger the registration requirement. For many crimes, registration is mandatory, meaning that the judge must require it. Arizona law also has a catch-all provision, A.R.S. 13-118, which allows a prosecutor in any criminal case to file an allegation that the crime was sexually motivated. If the state proves its case, including sexual motivation, beyond a reasonable doubt, then the judge has the discretion to order registration as a sex offender.
Registration as a sex offender is, as most people know, a potential nightmare. If you have to register, your identity will become available on the internet, and you will be required to notify law enforcement of your address and other information, and to update that information on a regular basis. However, even assuming you are ordered to register, there is a procedure available in certain cases to petition the court for the termination of the registration requirement.
Defending Clients Charged with Sex Crimes
Sex crimes are treated harshly by the courts and by society. Most of these offenses are felonies, and many include enhanced punishments. If you are facing a sex charge, you do not have to go through the process alone. Our attorneys can help. We will listen to what you have to say, provide you with an intelligent defense strategy, and always treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve. Contact Castañeda Law today and speak to a Phoenix sex crimes lawyer.
Call us at (602) 560-3131 for a consultation