aggravated sexual assault

What is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault?

Thousands of Americans receive sex crime charges each year. These acts are frequently exaggerated or even premeditated. If someone accuses you of a sex crime, you face an uphill battle. A sex crime conviction often results in various social penalties. These include lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, job loss, and a tarnished reputation for the rest of your life. However, certain sex offenses have more severe penalties than others. If you’ve been charged with a violent crime in Arizona, it’s critical to understand the legal, financial, and professional consequences of a guilty verdict. We discuss the differences between a sexual assault charge and an aggravated sexual assault charge in Arizona below. Our attorneys also handle Internet sex crimes as well as other sex-related crimes.

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we have extensive experience handling criminal defense in Phoenix and Arizona. One of the most sacred American principles is “innocent until proven guilty,” and we strive to protect it. As attorneys, we fight tooth and nail for our clients, both in and out of the courtroom. If you or someone you know faces aggravated sexual assault or other sex crime charges, contact us today. Call our Phoenix law office at 602-910-4040 or fill out our online intake form.


Sexual assault is frequently also called rape. Most people believe that sexual assault always entails violent rape. This is when a perpetrator uses violence or threats of violence to coerce a victim into sexual activity. Sexual assault in Arizona, however, takes variety of forms under (ARS) 13-1406. For example, rape occurs when someone gives a victim alcohol or drugs to prevent them from resisting intercourse. Rape is not limited to sexual intercourse. It also includes oral sexual contact.

(ARS) 13-1406, which governs sexual assault and rape in Arizona, requires a prosecutor to show the following.

  • You engaged in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with another person without their consent.
  • You did so purposefully or knowingly.


It’s important to know and understand the following phrases and concepts, especially if you face a sexual assault charge.

Sexual Intercourse

Sexual intercourse is any part of the body or object penetrating the penis, vulva, or anus, or masturbatory contact with the penis or vulva.

Oral Sexual Contact

Oral sexual contact occurs when the penis, vulva, or anus come into contact with the mouth.

Without Consent

Doing something without consent includes all of the following.

  • The use or threat of immediate force used against someone in order to coerce them.
  • Because of a mental ailment, mental defect, drugs, alcohol, sleep, or any other comparable impairment of cognition, the victim cannot agree, and the defendant knew or should have known about this situation.
  • The perpetrator purposefully misleads the victim about the nature of the act.
  • The perpetrator tricks the victim into believing that they are the victim’s spouse.

Mental Defect

The victim has a mental deficiency, and they are unable to appreciate the behavior’s distinctly sexual nature. Or, they are unable to comprehend or exercise their right to refuse to engage in the conduct with another person.

Statutory Rape

Sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with a minor is considered statutory rape. Anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the sexual act is considered a minor. It doesn’t matter if a minor voiced consent or gave apparent consent to the sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact. Statutory rape in Arizona is known as sexual behavior with a minor and is defined by Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1405.

Arizona Age of Consent

The Arizona age of consent is 18 years old, according to (ARS) 13-1405. This means that a minor under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult and could possibly be in violation of the Arizona age of consent legislation.

Romeo and Juliet Law Arizona

While the age of consent in Arizona is 18 years old, there are several exceptions for adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19. The Romeo and Juliet statute, sometimes known as the Romeo and Juliet Act, allows for consensual intercourse between two young partners between the ages of 15 and 19, as long as their ages are not more than two years apart.

If the minor is under the age of 15, or the age difference between the parties is greater than two years, the Romeo and Juliet statute does not apply. Furthermore, the Romeo and Juliet statute does not apply when the sexual encounter was not voluntary.


Aggravated sexual assault in Arizona is committing assault, but under different circumstances that require more punishment (for deterrent reasons) than what’s imposed when assault without aggravating circumstances is committed. Generally, aggravated sexual assault is a dangerous offense, and so the commission of it, even if it’s the first offense, will result in prison time. Below, we break it down so that you better understand what aggravated assault is and what the potential penalties are for committing it if convicted of it in the state of Arizona. Aggravated sexual assault is usually charged as a felony. 


The statute on aggravated assault is lengthy and complicated. The sentences can range from 1.5 to 25 years in prison, or even more if the circumstances warrant it. The possible penalty is determined by the facts of the case and the victim’s age.


There are further elements and consequences that may affect persons who are convicted of sexual assault, in addition to the high punishments.

Use of Date Rape Drugs

If the victim was given narcotics, the prison sentence is lengthened. If a defendant commits sexual assault and gives the victim a “date rape drug” without the victim’s knowledge, the presumptive, minimum, and maximum permitted sentences are all increased by three years.

Serious Physical Injury

If a defendant commits sexual assault or rape and inflicts substantial physical injury on the victim intentionally or knowingly, the defendant may be sentenced to life in prison.

Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC)

When a defendant over the age of 18 (or who was tried as an adult) conducts sexual assault on a victim under the age of 15, the sexual assault is classified as a Dangerous Crime Against Children. This means that the criminal must be sentenced to prison under (ARS) 13-705, which deals with hazardous offenses against children.

Arizona Sex Offender Registry

(ARS) 13-3821, Arizona’s sex offender statute, compels anyone convicted of sexual assault to register as a sex offender and be included on the state’s sex offender registry.

Even if the victim is not a minor, the Arizona sex offender register requirement may still apply. 


In Arizona, the statute of limitations for most felony charges is seven years. Sexual assault, on the other hand, has a seven-year statute of limitations only after authorities have determined the defendant’s identity. There is no statute of limitations on sexual assault until the culprit is identified.

Importantly, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are both affected by the Arizona three strikes law. This law makes offenders eligible for life imprisonment after being convicted of three serious crimes on separate occasions.


There are several defenses that are frequently asserted in sex crimes and aggravated sexual assault prosecutions. This is in addition to various defenses that apply to a variety of offenses. When someone is accused of rape, it is critical for any sex crimes attorney to mount a strong sexual assault defense. When someone is accused of rape, common defenses include coerced confessions, illegal confrontation calls, lack of physical evidence, illegally obtained evidence, false accusation, witness credibility, and technical legal mistakes.

Phoenix, AZ Sex Crimes Lawyer

You are in a difficult and stressful situation if someone wrongly accuses you of aggravated sexual assault. It’s crucial to understand that not all sexual assault charges are true, and that false or incorrect allegations can be made. It’s also important to understand the difference between assault vs battery, as these two terms are not interchangeable.

Regardless of the facts surrounding an aggravated sexual assault allegation, retaining the services of an experienced sex crimes attorney is critical to a successful resolution. Call today to find out how a sex crimes lawyer from the Ybarra Maldonado Group can help you defend against this charge. We provide a confidential and free consultation. Call (602) 910-4040 to make sure you receive protection for your rights.

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