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Phoenix Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer

Sexual assault charges are serious matters, and it’s vital for anyone facing such charges to secure reliable legal representation as soon as possible. Individuals living in the Phoenix area can reach out to the Orent Law Offices to secure representation from one of our experienced attorneys. Sexual assault cases and other criminal cases involving sex crimes are sensitive matters. It is the criminal defense attorney’s job to ensure the court sees the facts of the case as they actually transpired. The jury must make a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence at hand, and the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt rests on the prosecution.

Sexual assault cases take many forms, and anyone facing such charges should retain experienced legal counsel. People who cannot afford a private defense attorney may rely on a court-appointed public defender, but these individuals often handle many cases at once and cannot provide the same level of personalized service as a private firm. Consider the following information about sexual assault laws in Arizona and reach out to the Orent Law Offices if you’d like to meet with an attorney.

Sexual Assault Charges in Phoenix

Any unwanted sexual contact classifies as “sexual assault,” but several factors may lead to different, more serious charges:

  • Sexual assault can include sexual intercourse or sexual contact with someone against his or her consent.
  • Sexual battery includes any sexual contact that results in bodily harm to the victim.
  • Aggravated sexual assault can include any sexual assault carried out against an intoxicated or unconscious person. It can also apply to sexual assault in which the perpetrator used physical violence in the act.
  • Statutory sexual assault occurs when the victim is under the age of consent in the state in which the incident occurred. Some exceptions to the age of consent law apply.

Many factors can escalate sexual assault charges from misdemeanors to felonies and first-degree felonies to second-degree or higher felonies. Almost any type of sexual assault conviction will lead to heavy fines and prison time. The convicted individual will also face a lifetime appearing on the public sex offender registry and face numerous restrictions in terms of housing, employment, and other aspects of life.

Age of Consent

The “age of consent,” or the age at which the law acknowledges an individual can knowingly consent to sexual activity, is 18 in Arizona. Anyone who engages in sexual conduct with a person younger than the age of 18 may face statutory sexual assault charges. It’s important to note that consent does not matter in statutory sexual assault cases. Since the law does not recognize the younger person as having the ability to provide fully informed consent to sexual activity, the younger person’s willingness to participate in the sexual activity does not matter in most cases.

There are exceptions to age of consent violations. Close-in-Age or “Romeo and Juliet” laws exist to protect underage couples from unjust prosecution for consensual sexual activity. If one or both of the individuals in question are underage, Arizona’s Romeo and Juliet law may apply in the event of prosecution.

Punishments for Age of Consent Violations

Arizona has some of the harshest punishments for age of consent violations. It’s vital for anyone in any kind of relationship with an underage individual to carefully consider the legality of such a relationship in light of these punishments.

Molestation of a child younger than the age of 15 is a Class 2 felony carrying a minimum sentence of five years in prison. If the offender is at least 18 years old or is tried as an adult and the victim was 12 or younger, the offender will receive life in prison and must serve a mandatory 35 years before being eligible for parole. For victims older than the age of 12, the presumptive sentence is 20 years in prison.

These same punishment standards apply to various other age of consent law violations, including aggravated luring of a child for sexual exploitation, commercial sexual exploitation of a minor, and continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than age 14. Luring a minor for sexual exploitation is a Class 3 felony carrying a minimum punishment of 3.5 years in prison.

Sexual conduct with a minor under age 12 will lead to life in prison with no possibility of parole until the convicted individual serves at least 35 years, if the offender is 18 or older or tried as an adult. If a person 18 or older engages in sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 12 and 15, the presumptive sentence is 20 years in prison.

Defenses Against Criminal Sexual Assault Charges

Cases involving sex crimes often elicit strong emotions from the jurors and others involved in the case. It’s the criminal defense attorney’s job to ensure the jury considers the events in question as they actually incurred and refrain from making their own judgments. The justice system exists to ensure accused individuals retain their constitutional protections through trial proceedings, and there are several defenses a criminal defense attorney may suggest for a sexual assault case:

  • The aforementioned Romeo and Juliet laws may inoculate an underage couple from worrying about age of consent violations. Additionally, the age of a defendant in a statutory sexual assault case often influences the case’s result and the defendant’s punishment.
  • It is an unfortunate fact that some people make false accusations of sexual assault for various reasons. A person cannot give affirmative consent and then revoke it following completion of a consensual act. Some people make false sexual assault claims as an attempt to win money from a lawsuit, while others may do so out of revenge against a former lover. If the defendant in a sexual assault case can prove the plaintiff legally consented to the sexual activity in question, he or she may avoid conviction.
  • In rare cases, defendants may attempt to argue that they not in control of their actions at the time of the incident in question due to mental health issues. In these cases, the burden of proving the defendant’s insanity will fall to the defense attorney, and a judge may order the defendant to enter mental health treatment as part of the sentencing.
  • Mistaken identity. Some victims of sexual assault can positively identify their attackers, but this is not always the case. A victim of a sexual assault from a stranger may mistakenly accuse someone who looks like the attacker. The wrongfully accused individual may avoid lengthy legal entanglements with a solid, corroborated alibi, but there have been several documented cases of innocent people spending years in prison due to mistaken identity or false accusations. A defense attorney will help a mistakenly identified defendant prove his or her alibi in court.
  • Involuntary intoxication. If the defendant in a sexual assault case was drugged or otherwise unable to control his or her actions, an attorney may argue this as a defense against the charges in the case.

Sex Offender Registry

One of the most significant penalties facing those convicted of any type of sexual assault or other sex crime is permanent registry on the sex offender list. These lists typically exist at the state and federal level and are open for public use. Anyone can look up the registered sex offenders living nearby, and anyone who receives a conviction for sexual assault will need to register on this list. Penalties can extend to housing restrictions, travel restrictions, and even limitations prohibiting some types of employment.

When facing such severe punishments, it’s vital to secure competent, experienced legal defense from certified attorneys. Our experienced criminal defense lawyer at Orent Law Offices is here to help accused individuals in the Phoenix area, so reach out as soon as possible to get started. We offer free case evaluations to new clients, so we can meet with you and let you know what to expect from the trial. Contact us today for more information.

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    Great experience. Craig was honest and upfront from the get go. Always easy to get a hold of and professional. I would highly recommend Craig Orent as your choice for representation."