You are yet to live through your worst nightmare until you are accused of sexual misconduct in Phoenix, Arizona. Crimes like sexual assault are a hot-button topic in America and worldwide because of the evil and controversy associated with the offense. The legal repercussions of being convicted are nothing compared to the damage sexual misconduct allegations can do to your personal relationships, career prospects, and living situation. It remains imperative to act quickly and seek legal help before the court of public opinion does irreparable damage to your reputation before you are arraigned in court. At the Arizona Sex Defense Attorney, we can help build a solid defense strategy against the accusations you face and strive to reduce their impact on your life.

With increased advocacy efforts against sexual misconduct and more people understanding the lasting consequences of sexual assault on the victims, the prosecution is likely not to be lenient. Irrespective of a victim’s age, social or economic status, you could face the full wrath of the law if you lack dependable legal counsel and representation.

Sexual Assault Defined (Arizona Revised Statute 13-1406)

Under A.R.S. 13-1406, sexual assault is defined as the act of knowingly and intentionally engaging in oral sexual contact or intercourse with any person without their consent. The crime is generally categorized as a Class 2 felony.

When a crime involves a minor below the age of 15 years, the defendant may face harsher repercussions because the offense is categorized under “dangerous crimes against children.” Under ARS section 13.705, crimes classified as dangerous crimes against children may attract penalties, including life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, probation, or pardon.

Sexual assault is a broad topic, and it covers a range of actions/ crimes, including:

  • Rape

  • Sodomy

  • Child molestation

  • Inappropriate sexual touching

  • Unconsented sexual intercourse

  • Date rape

  • Statutory rape

Here are a few key definitions relevant to the crime:

Intentionally/ Knowingly

Legally speaking, the term “intentionally” means that you knew of your conduct or should have known about the action you were partaking in. Note that “intentionally” committing a crime does not necessarily require you to understand the unlawfulness of your acts.

Sexual Intercourse

This refers to penetration into the anus or vulva using any part of the body, an object, or masturbatory item.

Oral Sexual Contact

This refers to oral contact with the vulva, penis, or anus.

Without Consent

Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13.1406, the term “without consent” could be used to imply the use of:

  • Force

  • Deceit

  • Drugs

  • Coercion

  • Threats or intimidation

It is also important to note that the courts will always consider a victim’s capacity to consent. A person can give consent only when they are 18 and older. Moreover, persons with mental or developmental disabilities may not consent, more so if they suffer from impaired cognition.

Arizona Sexual Assault Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations for sexual assault in Arizona may vary under various circumstances. Often, victims have 2 years from the day an incident occurred to file a lawsuit. However, the laws allow more time for victims to file lawsuits, especially when they were below the age of the majority (18) at the time of an incident.

In 2019 Gov. Doug Ducey passed a law to extend the statute of limitations for child sex assault lawsuits. The new law dictates that:

  • Minors who suffer sexual assault have until they are 30 years to file lawsuits.

  • Child sexual assault/ abuse victims of any age have until the end of this year (2020) to file lawsuits against their perpetrators.

  • Victims who file lawsuits more than 2 years following a crime must provide “clear and convincing evidence” against their offenders.

Can I Be Charged With Sexual Assault Without Proof?


It is possible to be charged with sexual assault even if your accuser cannot provide any evidence. However, can you be convicted of the crime?

After sexual assault allegations are made against you, your fate will depend on the quality of legal defense you seek. Winning any sexual misconduct case is never an easy affair, even when the odds are in your favor.

While the laws give you the right to be "innocent until proven guilty," the court of public opinion is likely to side with an alleged victim, subjecting you to the presumption of guilt— “guilty unless proven otherwise.”

Moreover, a civil lawsuit holding you accountable for sexual assault will require a lower burden of proof. The rules and procedures that apply during civil lawsuits are different from those used during criminal cases. There are different rules of evidence, and these lawsuits don’t require the prosecution to uphold the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

Civil lawsuits operate on a considerably lower burden of proof where the prosecution merely needs to prove that you committed the crime by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means you may be held responsible for paying restitution if the evidence shows that you “more likely than not” committed sexual assault against your accuser.

Types of Sexual Assault

As aforementioned, sexual assault is a broad term that encompasses a range of crimes. What is similar with all these offenses is that the perpetrator intentionally engages in sexual intercourse or contact without a victim’s consent.

These offenses include:

  • Rape

  • Forcible object penetration

  • Forcible sodomy

  • Sexual encounters with minors

  • Marital rape

  • Incest, etc

Here are other common types of sexual assault:

Acquaintance Rape

This is a form of rape where the perpetrator is well known or trusted by the victim. He/she could be a friend, co-worker, classmate, or neighbor. Often, this form of rape happens during parties or first dates. It could even occur in relationships between:

  • Teachers and students

  • Doctors and patients

  • Religious leaders and parishioners

  • Coaches and athletes

Statistics show that over 80% of rape incidents are classified under acquaintance rape. Over 50% of these incidents happen during the first date.

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV)

This is yet another form of sexual assault where the victim and the perpetrator have had consensual sex in the past. A classic example of intimate partner sexual violence is marital rape. IPSV can also happen in dating relationships, and there is often some form of battering or violence involved.

Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Like date rape (acquaintance rape), drug-facilitated sexual assault is often not committed by a stranger. The victim finds no reason to fear and continues to unknowingly ingest food or drinks that are laced with drugs that cause symptoms such as:

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Impaired judgment

  • Lack of coordination

  • Loss of inhibition

  • Loss of consciousness

Drug facilitated sexual assault is considered a heinous crime because the victim is reduced to not being able to call for help, resist or escape. Sometimes, the perpetrator of a crime may even use drugs that wipe out the victim’s recollection of what happened. If convicted of drug-facilitated sexual assault, the courts may impose an additional 3 years on your sentence.

Moreover, having sexual contact or intercourse with a person high on voluntarily ingested drugs or alcohol may also amount to sexual assault. Alcohol affects consciousness, impairs judgment, and lowers inhibition. Legally speaking, a person under the influence lacks the capacity to consent.

Statutory Rape

ARS 13 1405 defines the legal age of consent in Arizona as 18—years old. This classifies any person under 18 years as a juvenile and, hence, is legally unable to consent to sexual contact or intercourse with an adult. This crime would attract mandatory jail time, even if the perpetrator didn’t use threats, force, or violence.

The “Romeo and Juliet” Exception

The “Romeo and Juliet” law may apply if two minors between 15 and 17 engage in consensual sex. It also applies when the perpetrator of a crime is no more than 2 years older than the alleged victim. However, this exception cannot be made if the victim is younger than 15 years.

Child Molestation

Any form of sexual contact with a minor is considered sexual assault. This is irrespective of whether the offender is also a child, a young person, or an adult. Often, the perpetrator is older than the victim and uses threats, bribes, tricks, blackmail, or force to commit the crime.

Sex crime laws are designed to protect children. As such, child sexual assault isn’t exclusively physical. It can also involve emotional or verbal abuse. Some of the acts classified as child sexual assault include:

  • Sexual touching

  • Performing or attempting to perform vaginal, anal, or oral penetration

  • Exposing your private parts to a minor

  • Exposing a minor to pornography

  • Taking pornographic videos or pictures of a child

Penalties for Sexual Assault in Arizona

Under the Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1406, sexual assault is a Class 2 felony. The precise penalties for a crime will highly depend on the specifics of a case.

The general conviction punishment includes:

First Offense:

  • A minimum of 5—years jail time

  • An average of 7—years jail time

  • A maximum of 14—years jail time

Second Offense:

  • Imprisonment for a minimum of 7—years

  • Imprisonment for an average of 10 ½ years

  • Imprisonment for a maximum of 21—years

Third Offense:

  • A minimum sentence of 14—years

  • An average sentence of 6—years

  • A maximum sentence of 28—years

As aforementioned, the penalties imposed may highly depend on the circumstances revolving around a crime. For instance, the courts may increase sentencing by 3 years if a defendant committed sexual assault by drugging the victim.

If you are a first-time offender, the penalties for your crime may be as follows:

  • Incarceration for a minimum of 8—years

  • Imprisonment for an average of 10 years

  • Imprisonment for a maximum of 17—years

Note that the prison sentence is likely to be longer if the offense falls under dangerous crimes against children.

In this case, the penalty may include:

First Offense:

  • Jail time for a minimum of 13—years

  • Jail time for an average of 20—years

  • Jail time for a maximum of 27—years

With A Past Felony Conviction:

  • Imprisonment for a minimum of 23—years

  • Imprisonment for an average of 30—years

  • Imprisonment for a maximum of 37—years

Life imprisonment is the proposed sentence for sexual assault perpetrators who cause their victims to suffer serious bodily harm. Sometimes, the courts may also choose to impose life imprisonment if a victim is 15 years or younger. This is irrespective of whether the crime resulted in physical injury or not.

Under ARS § 13.3821, persons convicted of sexual assault must register as Arizona sex offenders. You should register within 10 days following a conviction and within 10 days of entering a new county within the state.

Best Defenses for Sexual Assault Charges in Arizona

Preparing to battle sexual assault charges is no easy feat. It remains crucial to work with a competent criminal defense attorney who can help gather evidence and present strong arguments in your defense. Swaying the opinion of the judge and jury in your favor may require more than mere understanding of the laws and your rights as a defendant.

Here are some of the best defenses your attorney may use:


One of the critical elements the prosecution must prove to convict you is that you didn’t have the consent of your victim. As long as your accuser is of legal age (18—years and above) and is of sound mind, an attorney can argue that you had their permission.

A lawyer can use numerous intelligent tactics to cast doubt on whether you violated a victim’s will. Because the prosecution cannot prove consent using tangible evidence, it is considered circumstantial, making it easy for a skilled lawyer to use it as a means to weaken the prosecution’s case.

It remains crucial to use this defense wisely because it could backfire, depending on your criminal history. For instance, a history of sex crime convictions may not blend well with a consent defense. It could leave the jury and judge with the assumption that you want to add salt on an injury by slandering the integrity of a victim’s testimony.

Victim’s Ulterior Motives

Another possible way to discredit a victim’s allegations is by unveiling situations that may cover the truth or obstruct the course of justice. Again, this defense can create reasonable doubt of whether a crime indeed occurred.

Your attorney may begin by doing a thorough background check on your accuser. This will help gather facts surrounding the fall of events that lead to the “victim” filing charges against you.

Some of the common motives for making false accusations include:

  • Contempt—the accused may falsely accuse you of sexual assault out of spite, anger, or the intention to seek revenge.

  • Embarrassment—the accused may claim that they didn’t participate willingly because they are embarrassed by their sexual encounter. This is often possible, depending on the social, professional, or marital status of an accuser.

  • Financial Incentive— a classic example of cases where an accuser may make false accusations to obtain a financial incentive is if the defendant is having an extramarital affair. Even though the intentions of the accuser may not be to involve the police, they may stick to their fabricated story when things get out of hand.

  • Divorce or Custody Disputes—cases where one parent falsely accuses the other of molesting the kids are not rare, especially during divorce or child custody proceedings. Some spouses can file falsified claims to ensure the family court rules in their favor. In extreme cases, the accuser may even coach the kids or other parties to testify against you.

You Are Innocent

It is not enough to simply claim innocence. If you want to use innocence as your defense, you must prove that your actions don’t warrant the allegations made against you. Again, this is a tricky defense tactic that doesn’t work in all circumstances.


One of the most complicated defenses to use is insanity. Your lawyer may argue that you suffered temporary or permanent insanity at the time the alleged crime occurred. The courts will consider the legal definition of insanity and not necessarily the term’s medical meaning.

You may have to schedule a mental evaluation and obtain records that can support your claims of not being in your right state of mind. It may also be necessary to call in an expert witness who can enlighten the court about the possible impacts of your medical diagnosis. While this cannot confirm whether you acted when legally insane, it may sway the opinion of the judge or jury.

It is vital to understand that using this defense means that you will also be claiming to be a possible threat to society. Even if you are acquitted, the judge may order mandatory psychiatric treatment.

It Wasn’t You (Mistaken Identity)

Your lawyer may tell the courts that you don’t dispute that a crime occurred and sympathize with the victim. However, you are not the perpetrator of the crime. If someone attacked the victim at night or drugged them before an incident, for instance, they may not have had a good look at their assailant.


One of the best ways to prove that you are falsely accused is if you have an alibi. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a person; it could be other forms of evidence such as video surveillance as you entered and exited a restaurant. If the date, time, or location where the sexual assault occurred conflicts with evidence from your alibi, the court may drop the charges against you.

Onus of Proof

This defense may work in your favor by casting doubt on the prosecution’s case. The prosecution bears the burden of proof, and your lawyer may claim that they have nothing against you but hearsay.

Choosing the proper defenses to use is the first step towards giving your case a winning chance. Irrespective of the allegations you face, a skilled lawyer can tactfully choose the best defenses that could help prove your innocence or cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Other defenses a skilled sex defense attorney can use include:

  • The police violated your rights during the search, seizure, or interrogation process

  • Prejudice on the part of the prosecution or police

  • The victim didn’t file a case within 2 years according to the statute of limitations

How Can An Arizona Sex Defense Attorney Help?

Sexual assault allegations can put your reputation, freedom, and future on the line. It is essential to seek legal counsel and representation to have your charges dropped or reduced. Here is what a sex defense attorney can do to help:

  • Investigate the facts of your case

  • Collect evidence that works in your favor

  • Prepare a defense strategy depending on the strength of the case against you.

  • Negotiate for a plea bargain with the prosecution

  • Interrogate witnesses

  • Represent you during trial

It makes sense to enlist an attorney right after allegations are made against you. The expert will inform you of your rights and ensure you are not at risk of self-incrimination. You can also expect the specialist to guide you through the due criminal process and focus on building a defense strategy that could ensure your case comes to the best possible conclusion.

Find an Arizona Sex Defense Attorney Near Me

If you are accused of sexual assault in Phoenix, Arizona, the worst thing you can do is panic and merely cry innocent. Your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the jury, and the prosecution will be ready to throw wild cards your way, and you can never be sure what to expect, even if the odds are in your favor. They will be ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater unless you have a strong defense team in your corner, striving to prove your innocence. At the Arizona Sex Defense Attorney, we understand the severity of the charges you face and can defend you irrespective of whether the prosecution is ready to prosecute you in court or you are under investigation. We have a team of skilled lawyers, investigators, and defense research specialists with decades of combined experience who can work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. Call us now at 602-922-3272 for a free consultation and case evaluation.