Have you been charged with Child Molestation (ARS §13-1410) in Arizona? A conviction for child molestation may leave you facing decades in prison and lifelong consequences. If convicted, mandatory punishments even after time served will include Registering as a Sex Offender, restrictions on who you can spend time with and where you live.
This article covers the following topics of what you need to know about child molestation and how you might defend against this charge.
- What are the Arizona Laws against Child Molestation
- Possible Punishments in Convicted
- What Happens After Time Served
- Proven Defense Tactics from our Sex Crime Attorneys
If you are facing allegations of child molestation, you need to get help from a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense law firm, a firm that has substantial experience defending against sex offense allegations.
Watch this short video in which David explains Child Sexual Molestation in Arizona:
At DM Cantor, our attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of clients against child molestation and other sex offense crimes. Chances for a dismissal, reduction of charges, or an acquittal are greatly reduced without expert sex crime lawyers who have successfully defended these charges.
What are the Arizona Child Molestation Laws?
According to the Arizona Revised Statute, A.R.S. §13-1410, the crime of child molestation occurs when someone knowingly, or intentionally, engages or causes someone else to engage in sexual conduct with a child that is younger than the age of 15 years old. Child molestation does not include contact with the breast of a female. This crime is classified as a class 2 felony and can result in a sentence of up to 24 years in prison for a first offense.
Under A.R.S. § 13-705, child molestation falls in a class of offenses called dangerous crimes against children or DCACs. Crimes that fall into this category will result in lengthy prison sentences followed by lifelong consequences, including mandatory sex offender registration.
If you have been charged with child molestation, getting a reduction of your charges, a dismissal, or an acquittal without the experience of sex crimes specialist can be very difficult. Accusations of sex offenses are serious and should be treated as such. You need to seek immediate legal help as soon as possible after you have been charged to secure a better outcome in your case.
Punishments for Child Molestation
In Arizona, a conviction of child molestation is classified as a Class Two (2) Felony as well as a DCAC (dangerous crimes against children), which carries enhanced penalties. If you are convicted of child molestation as a first offense, you will face the following penalties for each count of conviction:
- A minimum prison sentence of 10 years for each count
- A presumptive prison sentence of 17 years for each count
- A maximum prison sentence of 24 years for each count
You also will not be eligible for early release or parole before you complete 100% of your prison sentence because the offense is a DCAC.
If you have been convicted of one prior DCAC or another predicate felony, your potential penalties will be enhanced upon a subsequent conviction for child molestation. For a second conviction, you will face the following possible penalties:
- A minimum prison sentence of 21 years for each count
- A presumptive prison sentence of 28 years for each count
- A maximum prison sentence of 35 years for each count
Each sentence runs consecutively. Since this is a DCAC, 100% of the prison time must be served before being eligible for release.
If you are convicted of two separate counts of child molestation, you will have to serve your prison sentences consecutively. This means that the minimum sentence that you might receive for the first offense with two convictions will be 20 years instead of 10. All of the sentencing ranges will be doubled.
Finally, if you are convicted of child molestation and have two prior historical convictions, you will face a sentence of life in prison.
Depending on your age and your criminal record, a conviction for child molestation in Arizona could mean that you will never be discharged from prison. As such, a charge of child molestation is extremely serious and must aggressively be defended against.
What Happens After Serving a Sentence
If you do complete your prison sentence and are discharged, you will have to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life. You will also not be allowed to have contact with any person who is younger than age 18, including your own children unless you undergo multiple testing procedures and have consent from your probation officer.
Under A.R.S. § 13-3727, people who are convicted of dangerous crimes against children, including child molestation, also face multiple residency restrictions. If you are convicted of this offense, you will not be allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school or from the residence of your former victim.
A child molestation conviction will negatively impact you for the rest of your life. Even long after you have discharged your prison sentence, you will face continuing registration requirements and residency restrictions. You may also face other collateral consequences for having a felony child molestation conviction on your record, including the following:
- Publication of your name, address, and photograph on the sex offender registry
- Stigma and humiliation
- Loss of friends and family
- Difficulty finding jobs
- Trouble finding a place to live
- Challenges getting approved for an apartment or house
At DM Cantor, our criminal trial lawyers are thoroughly well-versed in defense strategies against child molestation charges. We understand how the police and prosecutors usually try to present their cases and have an extensive criminal case library at our law firm. We will use all of the resources available to us to mount a strong defense against your child molestation charges.
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Potential Defenses to Child Molestation Charges
The defenses that might be available to you will depend on the circumstances and facts of your case. Some of the common legal defenses that may be available include the following:
- False accusations
- Flaws in the forensics used in the investigation
- Violation of your Miranda rights
- Denial of your right to counsel
- Faulty identification
In many cases, people are charged with child molestation while divorces or child custody disputes are pending. In these cases, the defendants’ former partners or spouses might falsely accuse them of molesting their children in an effort to retaliate against them or to gain the upper hand in their custody cases. In other cases, teenagers may falsely accuse their stepfathers or fathers of child molestation because they want them out of their families.
When false accusations of child molestation arise, it is important to challenge them immediately. An experienced attorney may assess how the report initially was made and examine any prepared Child Protective Service reports. He or she may also review how the child was interviewed and whether any suggestions might have been made to color the child’s statement. A lawyer may also obtain copies of divorce paperwork that may have been filed. Finally, an attorney may ask you to undergo a polygraph examination to demonstrate your innocence.
In some cases, the manner in which the forensic evidence was collected is flawed. For example, there might be issues in how D.N.A. evidence was collected or tested. There may also be a chain of custody problems for the evidence that might make it inadmissible in the prosecutor’s case. An experienced lawyer will look at how the evidence was gathered and how the testing was performed. He or she will also look at the chain of custody to see if any problems exist. If any evidentiary issues exist, your lawyer may file motions to challenge the admissibility of the evidence. Winning these types of motions may result in the prosecutor being forced to dismiss the charges.
Another potential defense might arise when the interviewing process was flawed. For example, if the child was coached by a parent or another adult prior to being interviewed, the child’s statement might be thrown out. Similarly, if the child was led by the forensic interviewer or police detective to make statements the officer needs to bring charges against you, your lawyer may challenge the interview and the child’s statements.
Common Defenses to any Criminal Charge
A common defense that we can raise in many cases is Miranda rights violations. In Arizona, the police must read you your Miranda rights when you are taken into custody before they can ask you questions about your case. Police sometimes try to get around reading suspects their Miranda rights by repeatedly saying things like, “You are free to leave.” However, the court and your lawyer will look at the circumstances to determine whether you were truly free to leave, or if you were in the custody of the officers at the time that you were interrogated.
If the police engage you in custodial interrogation, without advising you of your rights, we might be able to file a motion to seek the suppression of your statements as well as any evidence the police might have uncovered as a result of what you said. Evidence that is gathered as a result of incriminating statements that you had made during a custodial interrogation when you were not advised of your rights are considered to be the fruit of the poisonous tree. As such, that evidence may be suppressed along with the incriminating statements that were gathered in an unconstitutional manner.
Arizona uses a voluntariness standard when determining whether an incriminating statement will be admissible. If we can show that you were intimidated or coerced by the police into making an incriminating statement or a false confession, we might also be able to win the suppression of your statements.
In some cases, criminal suspects are denied the right to talk to a lawyer when they request one after they have been arrested. When you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney. If you do, the questioning must cease. If the police continued to ask you questions and denied your request to speak to your lawyer, any statements that you made may be suppressed.
Finally, some people falsely identify defendants as being the perpetrators who committed the offenses against them. In the context of child molestation, this might occur when the child is unfamiliar with the adult and misidentifies the person who is charged as the perpetrator. Witnesses may also falsely identify people because of such things as faulty lineup procedures and other factors. Police may also write misleading reports that contain false statements and other misleading information. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate every case to uncover all of the potential defenses that might be available to our clients.
Get Help from Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at DM Cantor
If you have been accused of child molestation in Phoenix or anywhere in Arizona, getting help from a skilled and experienced child molestation lawyer is crucial. An attorney that specializes in sex crimes will review all of the evidence and reports in your case in an effort to identify the defenses that should be raised.
If you are convicted of child molestation, you will face a lengthy prison sentence and lifelong collateral consequences. David Michael Cantor is a Board-Certified Criminal Law Specialist (click to learn what that means) through the Arizona Board of Legal Specialists and has extensive experience defending people who have been accused of many different sex offenses. DM Cantor has a track record of success with defending our clients against allegations of child molestation.
The lawyers at DM Cantor are trained in forensic interviewing techniques, which allows us to conduct thorough cross-examinations of detectives and mental health professionals who interviewed the children. We believe that every defendant deserves to present the strongest case possible and always work our hardest to protect the freedom and rights of our clients.
To learn more about your charges and the defenses that we might be able to raise for you, contact DM Cantor today by calling us at (602) 691-5907.