Charges of Sexual Assault or Rape in Arizona

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Legally referred to as sexual assault in Arizona, "rape" is among one of the most severe criminal offenses that you can face. If you are convicted of this offense, you can face decades of incarceration and potentially spend the rest of your life in prison. If you have been charged with sex assault, it is critical for you to retain an experienced sexual assault defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Law Office of Michael Alarid III offers highly skilled and knowledgeable representation to people who are facing serious felony charges, including rape offenses.

What is Sexual Assault in Arizona?

Under ARS 13-1406, you can be charged with rape if you knowingly or intentionally engage in oral sex or sexual intercourse with another person without his or her consent. This is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with and is a Class 2 felony.

The penalties can be increased when you commit the offense after administering a dangerous drug such as ketamine, GHB, or flunitrazepam to the victim before engaging in sexual intercourse with him or her while he or she is unconscious. A conviction for sexually assaulting a victim under the age of 15 is a dangerous crime against children and is subject to increased penalties under ARS § 13-705.

Sex Assault Penalties

Under ARS 13-1406, rape is a Class 2 felony. If you are convicted of rape charges as a first offense with no prior predicate felony offenses, you will face from 5.25 years up to 14 years in prison. The presumptive sentence for a first offense is seven years.

If you are convicted of this offense and have a prior predicate felony conviction, you will face from seven years up to 21 years in prison. The presumptive sentence will be 10.5 years in prison. If you have two or more prior predicate felony convictions, you will face a minimum of 14 years in prison up to 28 years. The presumptive sentence will be 15.75 years.

If the offense involved any knowing or intentional infliction of serious bodily injury, you could face a prison sentence ranging from 25 years up to life. Any person convicted of rape will be required to serve their entire prison sentence before they can be released and are not eligible for suspended sentences or early release.

If you used a "date-rape" drug to commit this offense, three years would be added to the minimum, presumptive, or maximum sentence that you might receive.

Arizona Dangerous Crimes Against Children

When the victim is younger than age 15, this offense will be charged as a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC) under ARS § 13-705. This statute provides much harsher penalties when the victims are children. If you are convicted of sexual assault with a victim younger than age 15, you will face very severe penalties.

If it is your first offense, you will face a minimum of 13 years in prison up to 27 years. The presumptive sentence is 20 years. If you have one prior predicate felony conviction, you will face a minimum of 23 years in prison up to a maximum of 37 years. The presumptive sentence will be 30 years.

If the victim was younger than age 12, you could be sentenced to 35 years up to life in prison. The judge could alternatively impose a sentence of 13 years up to 27 years with a presumptive term of 20 years.

Anyone who is convicted of a dangerous crime against children is not eligible to be released from prison until they have served their entire prison sentences. If you are convicted of more than one count, the sentences must be served consecutively to each other.

No matter how old the victim might be, being convicted of rape will require you to register on the state's sex offender registry for the remainder of your life. You will also be prohibited from having contact with anyone younger than 18, including your children.

If you want to have contact with your children, you will first have to undergo testing and get the consent of your sex offense probation officer.

Sex Assault vs. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a different offense and is found in ARS § 13-1404. While sexual abuse is also a felony sex offense that will require you to register as a sex offender and face prison time, it is not as serious as a rape charge under ARS 13-1406.

You can be charged with sexual abuse if you knowingly or intentionally have sexual contact with another person's anus, genitals, or female breasts without their consent. It is a Class 5 felony when the victim is 15 or older. If the victim is under age 15, it is a Class 3 felony and will be charged as a dangerous crime against children under ARS § 13-705.

Child Molestation Charges – Class 2 Felony

If you are accused of having sexual contact with a child under the age of 15, you can also be charged with child molestation under ARS § 13-1410. Child molestation is broader than a rape charge and includes more types of sexual acts.

When the victim is 14 or younger, you can be charged with child molestation for any form of sexual contact with the victim other than with the breasts of a female. Child molestation is a Class 2 felony and is also a dangerous crime against children.

Sex Offender Registration

If you are convicted of rape, you will be required to register as a sex offender in Arizona for the rest of your life. You will have to report to the sheriff's office in the county where you live and provide your name, address, physical description, the offense of conviction, and other details. Your information will be published on the state's sex offender registry.

You will be required to register each year and to get a new driver's license with a new photograph annually. The cost of the initial registration is $250, and the subsequent registration costs are $100 each.

If you fail to comply with your registration requirements, you can be charged with failure to register as a sex offender and face additional penalties.

Effective Defenses to Rape Allegations

While rape is a serious charge, it is possible to defend against it. Your attorney will carefully review the evidence against you to identify all of the possible defenses to assert. Some of the potential defenses to rape allegations include the following:

  • The alleged victim did consent to sex.
  • The police used flawed eyewitness identification procedures.
  • You had an alibi for the time the offense occurred.
  • The allegations are false.
  • The lab analysis and testing procedures were flawed.
  • Your constitutional rights were violated.

In some cases, an alleged rape victim will have consented to sexual intercourse but later has second thoughts. The victim may then claim that he or she was sexually assaulted to try to preserve his or her reputation.

If you have solid evidence that the victim consented, it is a strong defense to a rape charge since one of the elements requires the prosecutor to prove that you engaged in sexual intercourse without the victim's consent. However, proving that the victim consented can be tricky.

In many cases, it won't be possible to present direct evidence showing consent. If the victim was a minor or was otherwise incapacitated, he or she could not have legally consented. Your attorney might review the victim's history and any previous allegations that he or she has made to determine whether this might be a viable defense strategy.

Some people are charged with rape after they are identified by the victims using photo lineup procedures. Eyewitness identifications are often flawed, and many people have been wrongfully convicted based on this type of evidence. Your attorney may review the photo lineup or other identification process that was used and file a motion to challenge your identification if the police did not follow the proper procedures or if the lineup was inherently biased and designed in such a way that the victim was likely to select you.

If you were somewhere else at the time of the rape and could not possibly have committed the offense, your attorney will need to have strong evidence to present to the judge or jury. For example, if you have plane tickets and hotel receipts showing that you were in a faraway city, they could result in your charges being dismissed.

While it is rare, some alleged victims make up rape allegations when they were never raped or assaulted. Proving this can be difficult. Your attorney will look at the alleged victim's motivations to lie and challenge his or her testimony during cross-examination. If the alleged victim has a history of convictions of falsely accusing people of crimes, that can be relevant.

If the police have DNA or other forensic evidence to use against you in your case, your attorney can review how the evidence was collected and the lab procedures that were used to identify you. If there were flaws in the procedures used or a problem in the chain of custody, it is possible your attorney might be able to get the forensic evidence against you suppressed.

Finally, your attorney will review how the police completed their investigation. If they violated your constitutional rights, your lawyer would file evidentiary motions to try to get some or all of the evidence against you suppressed.

Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney
The Law Office of Michael Alarid III PLLC

Contact the Law Office of Michael Alarid III

Facing rape charges can be a nightmare. If you have been arrested for rape, you should retain a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Michael Alarid III.

We have established a record of success while defending people accused of very serious crimes. Call us today at (602) 818-3110 to schedule a free consultation to go over every aspect of your charges.

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