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age of consent in arizona

What Is the Age of Consent in Arizona?

How old is consenting age? Each state has a different age of consent. The age of consent is when someone can enter into a sexual relationship with another person. If you engage in sexual contact with someone under the age of consent, you are committing a sex crime. In Arizona, the age of consent is 18 years old. Under Arizona law (ARS 13-1405), it is illegal to intentionally have sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with someone who is under the age of 18. Anyone under 18 years of age does not legally have the ability to consent to sexual activity. There are few exceptions to the age of consent in Arizona law.

Arizona courts have a long history of prosecuting sexual assault. If you are charged with a sex crime in Arizona, you need to have an experienced Phoenix sex crimes attorney. They will protect your rights and investigate your case while providing experienced representation. At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we will pursue all available defenses for your case. Our experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorneys look at all aspects of the case. This puts you in the best position for a successful outcome.

Call us today at 602-910-4040 to book a consultation or schedule a consultation online.

What Is the Arizona Age of Consent?

The age of consent in Arizona is 18 years old. The age of consent is the age at which someone can legally consent to sexual conduct with other people. Those who violate the Arizona age of consent laws are committing sexual crimes. You face conviction for a sex crime, and you may have to register as a sex offender.  If two people have consensual sex, the adult party is committing statutory rape. Even in consensual relationships, if one party is a minor and thus under the age of consent, this applies.

Arizona Dating Laws

Arizona has strict laws outlining consent for sexual activity. This is because children and teenagers do not have fully developed brains. Because of this, they have a difficult time making decisions about sexual activities. Arizona made laws to prevent adults from taking advantage of people under the age of consent. If you have a romantic or sexual relationship with someone under the age of consent, you are committing statutory rape. For example, if you are 18 and your partner is 17, that is statutory rape.

What Are the Consequences of Breaking the Age of Consent Law in Arizona?

As with all laws, there are consequences to breaking Arizona’s Age of Consent law. Consensual sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor is considered statutory rape. It has a few categories depending on the age of the persons involved.

What Is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape is a consensual sexual interaction or oral sexual contact with someone under the age of consent. This includes sexual intercourse. Do not let the term “statutory rape” confuse you. This act does not need force or violence. Consent would not provide legal protection. No Arizonan under the age of consent can legally consent. If your partner is younger than 18 and you are having consensual sex, it is a criminal offense. Statutory rape is a felony in most cases. These felony charges could require mandatory registration to the Arizona sex offender registry. The incarcerated time ranges from probation to life in prison.

Arizona classifies felonies based on the relative ages of the people involved. Prior felony convictions play a huge part in sentencing decisions. For people accused of statutory rape, prior sentences increase the prison time.

Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Sexual conduct with a minor is sexual contact between a person of any age and someone under the age of consent. According to Arizona’s statutory rape laws, this occurs if you are 17 and you have consensual sex with a 15-year-old.

Sexual conduct with a minor becomes a Class 2 felony if the minor is under 15 or if the accused is in a trusted position. Trusted positions include a parent/legal guardian, foster parent, adoptive parent, or teacher. This is sexual abuse because you were in a trusted position with the minor.

For offenders under 18 years of age, statutory rape will always be a Class 2 felony. But the prison time will vary depending on the details of the case and the judge. For sexual contact with minors under 15, there is a minimum of probation to 12.5 years in prison. For minors between 15-17, this typically falls under the exception of the Romeo and Juliet law.

If the accused is over 18 and they have sexual contact with a minor who is 12 or under, that is a Class 2 Felony. It holds a mandatory sentence of 35 years to life in prison. If the minor is between 13-15, there is a minimum sentence of 13 years and a maximum of 27. If the minor is at least 15, it is a Class 6 felony and is a minimum of probation to 2 years imprisonment.

What Are Defenses Against Statutory Rape?

There are a few defenses to statutory rape charges. All these defenses require that the sexual intercourse was consensual above all else. You need to be honest with your sex crimes attorney from the beginning of your case. This will get you the best defense possible.

Romeo and Juliet Law Arizona

There are a few different exceptions to the Arizona Age of Consent Law. The most used exception is the Romeo and Juliet Law. This exception can only apply if:

  • the minor is at least 15 years old
  • the accused is under 19 or attending high school
  • if the age difference is no more than 24 months
  • all sexual contact was consensual

If the case meets all the above criteria, then this is a valid defense. This is also known as the close-in-age exemption.

Mistaken Identity

You can use this defense if the minor is 15, 16, or 17 and the accused did not know that the minor was underage. If the accused believed the minor was over the age of 17, this might provide a defense for statutory rape. Again, this only applies if they had consensual sex or consensual sexual contact.

Marriage Exception

There are few exceptions to the age of consent in Arizona. One such exception is the marriage exception. It states that a person can marry at 16 as long as:

  • their spouse is 3 years older or less
  • A legal parent or guardian consents to the union, OR the minor is legally emancipated.

Other Defenses

Other common defenses used against a statutory rape accusation include:

  • Lack of physical evidence–if there is no evidence of statutory rape, the entire case is based on testimony alone.
  • False Allegations–investigating the truthfulness of an allegation is an important part of case research. There are many reasons why someone would falsely claim that a sex crime had been committed.
  • Witness Credibility–part of an effective defense is being able to prove the credibility of a witness.

Phoenix Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

Being accused of a sex crime can be intense and scary. You have the right to a fair and speedy trial. At Ybarra Maldonado and Alagha, we can offer you legal protection with our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. If you’ve been accused of statutory rape or violating the age of consent law, reach out to us immediately. Call us today at 602-910-4040!

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