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Molestation of a Child Laws in Phoenix

Children are a vulnerable group in society and cannot defend themselves from most criminal acts. For this reason, Arizona laws are strict on individuals who commit crimes against children. You will be arrested and charged under ARS 13-1410 if you engage in any form of sexual contact with a minor under fifteen.

When you are arrested and charged with this offense, it is important to understand the nature of the charge and what is needed to convict you. This helps you plan a defense to fight the charges and avoid a conviction. The stakes are high for defendants facing charges of molesting a child. The consequences of a conviction under ARS 13-1410 include a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. 

Additionally, you will be required to register as a sex offender and deal with the collateral consequences of the criminal record. If you or your loved one faces child molestation charges in Phoenix, AZ, you will benefit from the expert legal guidance we offer at Phoenix Criminal Attorneys. We will help protect your rights and build a solid defense to secure a favorable outcome in your case.

Overview of ARS 13-1410

Under ARS 13-1410, child molestation occurs when you knowingly and intentionally engage in sexual contact with a person under fifteen years. Child molestation is classified as a serious and violent domestic violence offense. Due to the danger you pose to a child by engaging in such conduct, molestation attracts a separate sentencing scheme from other crimes of the same level.

A conviction for acts like having sexual intercourse with a child will see you serve a mandatory prison sentence. You will only be released after serving 100% of your sentence. Before you face a conviction under ARS 13-140, the following factors must be true in your case:

You Intentionally engaged or caused another person to engage in sexual contact with a minor. An act is considered intention if you do it deliberately. Under this statute, sexual contact could range from inappropriate touching to fondling and sexual intercourse. However, the prosecution does not have to show proof of sexual intercourse. Any other form of sexual contact with a child can suffice as molestation. Additionally, contact with the female breasts does not fit the definition of molestation.

The child was under fifteen years old. Sexual contact with a minor is considered molestation if the alleged victim is under fifteen years. Therefore, the prosecution must prove that the alleged victim falls under the specific age category before you are convicted.

You knew about the child's age. Arizona laws define molestation as intentional and knowing sexual contact with a child. Therefore, you are guilty of the offense if you knew the child's age before committing the act.

Penalties for Molesting a Child in Arizona

Child molestation is charged as a class two felony. Although the general sentencing for this offense requires you to spend between three and twelve years in prison, child molestation as a dangerous crime affects your sentencing. Under ARS 13-705 on dangerous offenses against children, you will face e following penalties:

  • A 10-year minimum prison sentence.
  • A 17-year presumptive prison sentence.
  • A 24-year maximum sentence.

If you have a prior felony conviction, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 years and a maximum of 35 years for each offense count. If you face charges for molesting multiple children, you will be charged and punished separately for each offense. The prison sentences will be consecutive to each other in this case.

After a conviction for child molestation in Arizona, it is impossible to receive a probation sentence. Therefore, you must serve your entire prison sentence behind bars.

Sex Offender Registration

The most challenging consequence of a child molestation conviction is the requirement to register as a sex offender. If you are convicted or found guilty due to insanity, you must provide your details for placement in the sex offender registry. Often, your sex offender registration begins when you complete your prison sentence for the offense. 

The initial registration for sex offenders requires a $250 fee, and you must provide the following details:

  • Fingerprints.
  • All names and aliases.
  • Current photographs.
  • Mailing address.
  • DNA evidence and a blood sample.
  • Online Identification.

After the initial registration, you will need to renew the registration yearly. The safety department maintains the sex offender registry to notify the public of a sex offender's location. Additionally, law enforcement officers can be able to monitor sex offenders.

Being in the sex offender registry will have serious consequences on your life. In addition to the social stigma, you will be restricted on where you can live or work. Most employers are reluctant to offer jobs to convicted sex offenders. Therefore, the conviction could ruin your career.

Both minors and adults who face a child molestation conviction must register as sex offenders. Therefore, if a minor is in this predicament, they could lose their chance at admission to a good college.

Legal Defense Against ARS 13-1410

The consequences of a conviction for molesting a child are serious and life-changing. Therefore, you must be quick to obtain legal guidance and build a defense against your charges. The following are some defenses you can present against your child molestation charge:

False Allegations

It is not uncommon for a child molestation charge to stem from false accusations. Most crimes against children are reported in the middle of bitter divorce and custody battles. When deciding on divorce settlements and child custody, the court can assess the criminal history of each parent. This helps ensure the child’s safety. 

The other parent of your child may feel compelled to bring false accusations against you for an upper hand in the custody case. Your defense attorney will help you uncover and beat the false allegations by challenging and analyzing how and when the report was made.

Coerced Confessions

Since no physical evidence is necessary to substantiate a child molestation charge, the case will depend on the testimony provided by the victim and confessions from the defendant. Most of these confessions are obtained after interrogations and coercion by law enforcement officers.

If you are a victim of a coerced confession, you can attack the reliability of the evidence obtained. Your lawyer will help you do this by challenging your willfulness to accept liability for the crime.

Accidental Contact

Not all sexual contact with minors is intentional or calculated. The prosecution must prove that your actions were intentional before your conviction for molestation. You can beat your charges and avoid a conviction by arguing that your contact with the child was accidental. Sometimes, a caring gesture could be misunderstood and reported to law enforcement officers as molestation.

Violation of Your Miranda Rights

The police officers must read your Miranda rights before interrogating you about the crime. If you made incriminating statements while under custody and your Miranda rights were not read, You could petition the court to throw them out of your case. Removing some evidence from your case could weaken the prosecutor’s case and increase your chances of beating the charges.

Attack Witness Credibility

In addition to the testimony from the alleged victim, a sexual molestation charge could be anchored on witness testimony. Especially in cases where the alleged witness is also a child, you can attack their credibility. Children are easy to manipulate. Therefore, they may only be quoting what was said and not what they witnessed.

Police Misconduct When Obtaining Evidence

During an investigation for child molestation, the police must obtain a search warrant to search your home, vehicle, or person. Unfortunately, some law enforcement officers will quickly enter your home or coerce you into submitting to tests without a warrant. A common form of police misconduct is a search without a warrant exceeding the warrant’s scope.

You can attack the evidence obtained through the illegal search and have it removed from your case.

Frequently Asked Questions on Child Molestation in Arizona

Sex crimes against children are charged and punished harshly in Arizona. Therefore, arresting and being charged under ARS 13-1410 could be challenging. The following are frequently asked questions on arrest and punishment for molesting a child:

  1. Can a minor be charged with molesting another child?

In Arizona, child molestation is defined as sexual contact with a person under fifteen years. Since a minor is anyone under eighteen years. Therefore, a child over fifteen and under fifteen can be arrested and charged for sexual contact with a younger child. Minors facing criminal charges in Arizona are handled in the juvenile justice system.

If a parent or guardian learns of the sexual molestation by a minor and fails to report it, they could be charged with failure to report under ARS 13-3620.

  1. What evidence is needed to obtain a guilty verdict in a child molestation case?

No evidence of sexual intercourse is needed to prove molestation. For this reason, there is no physical evidence in a child molestation case. Mostly, your prosecution will rely on the victims or witness testimony to prove that you engaged in the criminal act.

  1. How does child molestation differ from sexual contact with a child?

The main difference between sexual contact and the molestation of a child is the act that constitutes the crime. For sexual contact, the prosecution must present evidence of sexual intercourse or oral sex to obtain a conviction. Molestation, on the other hand, only needs Testimony indicating that you touched a child’s sexual organ or caused them to touch you sexually.

Another difference between ARS 13-1410 and ARS 13-1405 is the victim’s age. With child molestation, you will only be charged and convicted if the alleged victim is under fifteen years. However, charges of sexual conduct with a minor will arise if the victim is under eighteen.

  1. Is the mistake of age an acceptable defense to child molestation charges?

No. In Arizona, you cannot raise a reasonable mistake of age as a defense against ARS 13-1410 charges. However, this defense may apply when you are charged with sexual contact with a minor.

  1. What is a dangerous crime against a minor, and how will it affect my sentencing under ARS 13-1410?

ARS 13-705 defines a dangerous crime against a child as any of the following acts done on a child under fifteen years:

  • Sexual molestation.
  • Sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Child pornography.
  • Sexual extortion.
  • Sex trafficking of a minor.

Molestation of a child falls under this statute which increases the potential penalties you face after your conviction. Additionally, this sentencing scheme affects your prison term and how soon you can be released.

Offenses Related to Child Molestation in Arizona

Child molestation is one of the most serious offenses you can commit against a child. When you face charges under this statute, the prosecution can introduce charges for the following related crimes to your case:

Sexual Conduct with a Child

If you knowingly engage in sexual intercourse or oral sex with a child, you will be arrested and charged under ARS 13-1405. You will be found guilty of sexual contact with a minor if the prosecution can prove these facts:

  • You intentionally engage in oral sex or sexual intercourse with another person. Unlike child molestation, evidence of sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with the alleged victim is necessary to obtain a conviction. Sexual intercourse involves penetration of the vagina or anus by the penis or any other object. Oral sex, on the other hand, is the contact between the mouth of one person and the penis, vagina, or anus of the other person.
  • The alleged victim of your acts was a minor. In Arizona, the age of sexual consent is eighteen. Therefore, sexual intercourse or oral sex with a person under the age of consent will attract an arrest, criminal charges, and a conviction for sexual contact with a minor.

Depending on the factors of your case and the victim’s age, unlawful sexual contact with a child attracts a class six or class two felony charge. If the child is under fourteen years, they will be charged with a class two felony. You may also be charged with a class two felony for conduct with a child over fifteen years if the minor was in your case.

You are considered to be in a position of trust if you are an apparent legal guardian or teacher of the alleged victim. A conviction, in this case, will attract a prison sentence of twelve to thirty-five years. If you face charges for sexual conduct with a child, you will require expert legal guidance to navigate the case.

Child Pornography

You commit the crime of child pornography when you record, photograph, film, or visually depict a child engaging in sexual conduct. Even when you are not involved in producing the content, you can be charged with child pornography for distributing sexual content that features a minor. For child pornography or child exploitation, sexual conduct means any of the following acts:

  • Sexual intercourse between individuals of the same or opposite sex.
  • Masturbation.
  • Sexual bestiality.
  • Sexual penetration with a foreign object.

In addition to proving that you filed or distributed sex-related material, the prosecution must show that the alleged victim was under eighteen years. Child sexual exploitation is charged as a class two felony in Arizona. The maximum sentence for violating ARS 13-3553 is ten years if you do not have a prior conviction. 

If the victim of your crime were under fifteen years, your crime would be charged under ARS 13-705 on dangerous crimes against minors. A conviction under this statute is punishable by up to twenty-four years in state prison. In addition to prison time, a conviction for child pornography will put you on the sex offender’s registry.

Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation

Charges for luring a child for sexual exploitation arise when you lure another person to engage in sexual contact with the knowledge that they are under eighteen years. Luring a child for sexual exploitation is charged under ARS 13-3554 and has the following elements:

  • You offer or solicit sexual activity from another person.
  • You knew or should have known that the person was a child.

Violation of ARS 13-3554 is a class three felony. If you are convicted of luring a child for sexual exploitation, you risk facing a prison sentence of three to seven years. The sentence is enhanced if the alleged victim of your actions is under fifteen years.

Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me

You will be charged for violating ARS 13-1410 if you knowingly engage in sexual contact with a child under fifteen years. Even when you are completely innocent, facing an arrest and criminal charges for child molestation can take a toll on you. The stigma of the pending charge, coupled with the potential penalties of a conviction, requires you to act quickly. 

Fortunately, all elements of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before your conviction. Therefore, not all arrests under this statute result in a conviction. With the guidance of a skilled criminal lawyer, you can fight the charges and avoid the consequences of a conviction.

Your choice of legal representation when you battle child molestation can make a difference in the outcome of your case. We at Phoenix Criminal Attorney have extensive knowledge and legal experience to fight your charges, avoid a conviction, or obtain a reduced sentence. If you face criminal charges in Phoenix, AZ, we invite you to contact us at 602-551-8092 today.

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