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sex crimes attorney phoenix

Every criminal case, especially those involving sex crimes, requires competent and skilled representation. A good Phoenix criminal defense attorney will analyze the facts, investigate your case, and protect your rights while exploring all available defenses for you and your case. Here at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we assist a large number of clients in navigating the perplexing waters of state and federal courts and criminal justice systems every year. With our extensive knowledge and experience, we’ll place you in the best possible position for a successful conclusion. Call us now at 602-910-4040 to book a consultation with a Phoenix sex crimes attorney.

Is a Sex Crime a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

If you are charged with a sex offense in Arizona, the crime may either be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Whether a sex offense is a felony or a misdemeanor determines the potential sentence. The type of sex crime and the intent of the accused both influence whether a sex offense is a felony or a misdemeanor. Whether the crime was committed against another adult or against a child also plays a large role in the determination of the charge. 

Misdemeanors are offenses for which the law allows a penalty of up to one year in prison. Because the punishment is lower, the offense is more likely to be comparable in severity. Felonies, on the other hand, are much more serious and can result in significantly harsher penalties, including well over a year of imprisonment.

Different Types of Sex Crimes

There are a number of different crimes that constitute sex crimes in Arizona. Some of the more common offenses a sex crimes attorney at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group may handle include the following:

Sexual Abuse

According to A.R.S. 13-1404, sexual abuse occurs when someone “intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with any person who is fifteen or more years of age without consent of that person or with any person who is under fifteen years of age if the sexual contact involves only the female breast.” Sexual abuse is classified as a class 5 felony, unless the victim was under the age of 15 at the time of the abuse. In this case, it would be considered a class 3 felony.

Sexual Assault/Rape

A.R.S. 13-1406 states that sexual assault 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. For a first offense, the mandatory minimum is 5.25 years, presumptive is 7 years, and the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment. Penalties increase when the offender has historical priors. 


Under A.R.S. 13-3211, 13-3214, and Phoenix City Code 23-52, prostitution occurs when a person knowingly offers sexual services in exchange for something of value, which in this case is typically money. Prostitution is a class 1 misdemeanor unless it is the fourth or subsequent offense, which then enhances the crime to a class 5 felony.

It’s important to note that escort services are legal in Arizona, as long as no sexual acts are committed in exchange for money. 

Solicitation of Prostitution

On the other side of things, solicitation of prostitution occurs when a person offers money (or something of value) for the sexual services of another person. In short, this crime refers to the person who is paying for the act of prostitution. Per the Phoenix City Code, solicitation of prositution is also a class 1 misdemeanor. 

Sex Trafficking

As explained under A.R.S. 13-1307, sex trafficking occurs when a person intentionally traffics another person with the goal of forcing them to engage in prostitution or sexually explicit performance by deceit, force, or coercion. The offense is generally a class 2 felony. However, if the victim was under the age of 15, it becomes a dangerous crime against a child and therefore increases the severity of the punishment.

Sexual Conduct with a Minor (Statutory Rape)

Sexual conduct with a minor is the most serious sexual offense that may be committed against a child. This offense occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under the age of consent in Arizona, as stated in A.R.S. 13-1405. If the minor is under the age of 15 and/or if the offender was in a position of trust (like a teacher or coach, for example), it is a class 2 felony. Sexual conduct with a minor over the age of 15 and without the offender being in a position of trust is a class 6 felony.

Keep in mind that the Romeo and Juliet Law in Arizona may be a valid defense if the case involves two young adults who are close in age.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Child Pornography)

Sexual exploitation of a minor, or child pornography, occurs when a person records, films, develops, duplicates, distributes, transports, exhibits, receives, sells, purchases, electronically transmits, possesses, or exchanges any visual depiction of a minor engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual behaviors. You can find this statute under A.R.S. 13-3553.

Arizona imposes some of the harshest penalties when it comes to a child pornography conviction. The offender faces a class 2 felony conviction and can receive a minimum of 10 years per pornographic image. As an example, the possession of 20 pornographic images can land an offender 200 years in prison. If charged with this, you need an Internet sex crimes lawyer right away.

Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation

According to A.R.S. 13-1554, luring a minor for sexual exploitation is a class 3 felony that occurs when a person offers or solicits sexual conduct with another person knowing (or having reason to know) that the other individual is a minor. This crime is a class 3 felony.

Child Molestation

Under A.R.S. 13-1410, child molestation entails the intentional or knowing engagement in (or causing a person to engage in) sexual contact with a child who is under the age of 15. The exception is sexual contact with the female breast, which would instead fall under the crime of sexual abuse. The molestation of a child is considered a dangerous crime against children (DCAC) and is a class 2 felony. 

Public Indecency

A.R.S. 13-1403 defines public indecency as intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact, oral sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or bestiality within the presence of another person or people. It suggests that the defendant is “reckless” about whether a reasonable person would be offended or disturbed by the conduct. Whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on who witnessed the conduct. If the person was above the age of 15, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. If they were below the age of 15, it is a class 5 felony. 

Indecent Exposure

As per A.R.S. 13-1402, indecent exposure occurs when a person exposes themselves to another person and is reckless about whether a reasonable person would be offended or disturbed by the conduct. A person may expose themselves by showing their genitals or anus, or, for females specifically, showing their areola or nipple. This does not include women who are breastfeeding. Like with public indecency, the charge depends on who was present at the time of the exposure. If the person was over the age of 15, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. If below the age of 15, it is a class 6 felony. 

Penalties for Sex Crimes in Arizona

Sex crimes, especially against children or minors, are some of the most heavily prosecuted in the state of Arizona. In fact, many sex crimes result in harsher penalties than even those of second-degree murder. As such, penalties for these crimes are severe, often carrying mandatory prison sentences and flat terms. Flat terms do not allow for early release and require the offender to serve each day of the imposed sentence. 

Here are some of the flat terms for specific sex crime charges:

  • Sexual assault/rape = 5-14 years
  • Prostitution = 15-180 days
  • Sexual conduct with a minor = 13 years to life imprisonment
  • Child pornography = 10-24 years
  • Child molestation = 10-24 years, or 35 to life if the child is under the age of 12

In addition to the conviction itself, the defendant will be required to publicly register as a sexual offender. Sex offender registration almost guarantees that a person will be turned down for future employment opportunities as well as housing applications. The stigma attached to a sex crime conviction will follow the offender for life and can significantly impair their ability to have healthy interpersonal connections. That is why it is so important to hire a competent Phoenix sex crimes attorney as soon as possible.

Defenses Against Sex Crimes

Your sex crimes attorney can assert several defenses to the accusation depending on the sort of offense you’ve been charged with and the facts of your case. Some of the defenses we use here at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group include:

  • False allegations
  • Conduct was consensual
  • Did not and could not possibly know the victim was underage
  • False evidence by a witness
  • Mistaken identity
  • Faulty forensic tests
  • Unfair bias among witnesses, the prosecution, or the police

Above all, it is essential to be as open and honest with your sex crimes attorney as possible from the start of your case to ensure that you obtain the best defense possible.

Phoenix Sex Crime Defense Lawyers

Criminal accusations might be frightening, but no matter what, you possess the right to a fair trial and legal protection. If you’ve been charged with or accused of a sexual offense, it’s important that you speak with a Phoenix sex crimes attorney right away. Our attorneys here at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group are dedicated to ensuring that your rights are not infringed. We are filled with a passion for justice and fight hard on behalf of all of our clients. Rest assured, we’ll put up a strong defense that confronts these charges head-on. 

If you find yourself in Phoenix or the neighboring areas and are facing sex crime allegations – don’t hesitate! Call us today at 602-910-4040.



Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to help guide you in your time of need.

Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Esq.

Founder & Principal Attorney of Ybarra Maldonado Law Group
Criminal Law, Immigration Law, Personal Injury, and Civil Rights
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Brett Turley, Esq.

Senior Criminal Defense Associate Attorney
Ybarra Maldonado & Associates
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