Statutory Rape Laws in Arizona

Arizona Statutory Rape Laws

The Arizona age of consent is 18, which means that younger individuals do not have the legal right to provide consent for participation in sexual activity. Whenever such activity occurs between adults and minors, charges may be pressed under statutory rape laws in Arizona.

Age of Consent Arizona

In Arizona, the age of consent is 18 years old. This means that any sexual activity with someone under 18 is considered statutory rape, even if the other person appears to be willing. Some exceptions exist for consensual sexual activity between minors who are close in age.

For example, if both parties are between 15 and 17 years old, and their age difference is less than two years, the activity may not be considered statutory rape. However, it is important to note that any sexual activity with someone under 15 years old is considered a serious crime in Arizona, regardless of the age difference between the parties involved.

Statutory Rape Legal Framework

In the case of statutory rape, the prosecution does not have to prove assault has occurred. The regulation aims to protect young individuals who lack the information and experience to consent.

In Arizona, statutory rape is addressed by the sexual abuse and molestation laws. The age of the minor participant in the sexual activity determines several offense categories.

Sexual contact with a minor occurs whenever sexual activity occurs between an adult and a person under the age of 15. This is a Class 2 felony that can result in a five-year prison sentence for minors under the age of 15. If the offender is 18 or older and the minor is 12 or younger, the offender will be ineligible for release from prison for at least 35 years (see A.R.S. 13-705 (A)).

Molestation occurs whenever there is sexual contact with a minor without penetration. This is another Class 2 felony with similar consequences to sexual conduct with a minor.

As per Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1405 and 13-1404, several other offenses will also fall under the statutory rape category:

  • The aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation is a Class 2 felony
  • Commercial sexual exploitation of a minor is also a Class 2 felony
  • Luring a minor for sexual exploitation is a Class 3 felony that carries a minimum prison sentence of 3.5 years
  • Public sexual indecency occurring in front of a minor is a Class 5 felony that carries a prison sentence of 1.5 years

The Romeo and Juliet Exemption

The statutory laws and punishments outlined above are universally applicable apart from one exemption. The exemption will occur whenever the two individuals who engage in sexual activity with each other are close in age.

The so-called Romeo and Juliet law prevents the prosecution of underage individuals who engage in sexual activity with each other. The exemption is applicable in the following situation:

  • Two individuals engage in consensual sexual activity with each other
  • They are at least 15 or older
  • There is an age difference of no more than two years between the two individuals

Arizona court will examine the specifics of the situation to rule out whether both individuals will be prosecuted or if the Romeo and Juliet law could be used to craft a defense strategy in the case of a court trial.

Possible Statutory Rape Defenses

Statutory rape is a serious charge that could result in a life-altering sentence and other repercussions. A criminal defense attorney will acquaint themselves with the situation to identify the defense strategy to deliver the best results w.r.t. statutory rape laws in Arizona.

The Romeo and Juliet exemption is a very common defense scenario.

statutory rape laws in arizonaMistakes of age could also be employed. In this instance, the criminal defense lawyer will establish the fact that the defendant did not know the victim was underage at the time when the sexual activity took place. Such defense can be employed whenever the minor is aged at least 15. If there is evidence, the defense could also show that the underage individual presented themselves to be older to engage in sexual activity.

In Arizona, there’s also a statutory rape exemption for married couples. Whenever sex occurs between a married minor and their adult significant other, statutory rape laws, do not apply. Rape that occurs in the context of marriage will be prosecuted.

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