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Posted on March 15, 2022 in Sex Crimes

4 Defenses to Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is a serious criminal charge in Arizona. Arizona Revised Statute §13-1405 defines sexual conduct with a minor as knowingly or intentionally engaging in oral sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person under 18 years of age. 

Note that the statute does not require the act to include force or violence. Therefore, you could be charged with statutory rape even if the sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with a minor was “consensual” in your eyes. 

You can be charged with the crime because a minor under the age of 18 years cannot legally consent to sexual contact. Therefore, even though a minor willingly engages in sexual activity, the law views the sexual contact as statutory rape.

Penalties for a Statutory Rape Conviction in Arizona

Statutory rape charges are felony charges. The level of felony depends on the ages of the accused and the victim. For example, statutory rape of a minor under 12 years of age by an adult over the age of 18 years is a Class 2 felony. The prison sentence can be 35 years to life. 

If the victim is 12 to 14 years of age, it is a Class 2 felony charge, but the sentence is generally 13 years to 27 years in prison. If the victim is between 15 to 17 years of age (and the accused is not in a position of trust), the charge is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two years in prison. 

The mandatory prison sentences may decrease if the accused is under 19 years of age. 

In addition to serving time in prison, the Arizona sex offender laws require that a person convicted of statutory rape register as a sex offender. Being on the sex offender registry can have significant negative impacts on the rest of your life. 

What Are the Potential Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge in Arizona?

If you are charged with statutory rape in Arizona, you should immediately contact a Phoenix sex crimes lawyer. You need a lawyer to investigate the charges against you to create a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of fighting statutory rape charges. 

Innocent people are often convicted of crimes. Relying on the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” could result in a prison sentence and being a registered sex offender for the rest of our life.

Four defenses to statutory rape charges in Arizona are:

Marital Exception

Arizona has an exception to statutory rape laws for legally married parties. Therefore, consensual sex is not illegal between a married minor and their adult spouse. 

Romeo & Juliet Exception

Consensual sex between teenagers of similar age is not criminalized in Arizona. The exception is known as the Romeo & Juliet law

The minors must be between the ages of 15 to 19 years old. The sex must be consensual, and the parties must be no more than two years apart in age. 

Coerced Confessions and Illegally Taped Confessions

In many cases, the confessions of an accused person are the key evidence used to convict the person of statutory rape. However, if the confession was illegally obtained, the confession may not be admissible in court.

For example, suppose the police officers obtained a confession after hours of intense interrogations where the accused was not given a break, water, or food. In that case, a defense attorney may attack the confession’s reliability. The accused may have broken down and said whatever the officers wanted them to say just to make the harassment and coercion stop.

Illegally taping a confession may result in the confession being inadmissible in court. A “confrontation call” occurs when a minor or the minor’s parent calls to confront the accused person. The goal is to have the accused confess to the sexual conduct without telling the person that the phone call is recorded. A defense attorney may question the legality of the call and whether the evidence is admissible.

Illegally Obtained Physical Evidence

The evidence collected to prove statutory rape may require a search warrant. Clothing, DNA, and trace materials could be inadmissible if the police did not obtain a search warrant or lacked probable cause for a search warrant. A defense attorney carefully analyzes the procedures used by the police to collect evidence in a statutory rape case.

Other Defenses to Statutory Rape in Arizona

There could be several other defenses to statutory rape charges that your Phoenix sexual crimes attorney may argue. Other defenses include:

  • Sexual conduct in furtherance of a lawful medical practice
  • Medical treatment by a licensed physician, nurse, or other person rendering emergency care
  • Incapacity to consent when the defendant could not reasonably know the victim’s age (and the victim was 15-17 years old)
  • Lack of evidence 
  • False allegations by the victim and witnesses 

The facts and circumstances of the case form the defense strategy used at trial. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix can provide guidance and advice about the best way to defend yourself against sex crimes like statutory rape.

Contact the Sex Crimes Lawyers at Orent Law Offices In Phoenix To Get Legal Assistance Today

For more information, contact the sex crimes attorney Craig Orent. Give us a call at (480) 656-7301 or visit our law office at 11811 N Tatum Blvd UNIT 3031, Phoenix, AZ 85028. We offer a free case evaluation, so get the help you deserve today.

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