Being charged with sexual assault or rape in Arizona is extremely serious. If you are facing sexual assault or rape charges, you are facing one of the most serious offenses under Arizona law. A conviction for this offense can permanently alter the course of your life and subject you to severe penalties, including decades in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. Because of the severity of the penalties for a sexual assault or rape conviction, this type of offense is sometimes called a “life-ender.”
Watch this video of David Michael Cantor talk about Rape / Sexual Assault Charges in Arizona.
A sexual assault charge is a type of offense that you should not face alone. You need to seek the help of an experienced sex crimes attorney who can aggressively defend you against the charge.
What is the Definition of Sexual Assault in Arizona?
In Arizona, sexual assault, or rape, involves a person engaging in oral sex or sexual intercourse with another person without obtaining the person’s consent either knowingly or intentionally, as described under the statute A.R.S. § 13-1406. This offense is a Class 2 felony carrying some very severe penalties.
In Arizona, rape charges can include any non-consensual penetration with either a part of the body or with an object. The penetration can be of the vagina, mouth, or anus of someone else without consent. If the alleged victim is intoxicated, drugged, comatose, or disabled and the offender know or reasonably should have known of the condition, he or she is not considered to be able to consent. In this situation, penetration of the incapacitated person is also considered to be a sexual assault or rape as is oral sexual contact with the person’s anus, penis, or vagina. Both men and women can be victims of rape or sexual assault.
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What are the Penalties for Rape / Sexual Assault?
Under A.R.S. § 13-1406, sexual assault is classified as a Class 2 felony carrying severe penalties. If you are convicted of sexual assault, the penalties that you might receive will depend on your criminal record and the facts and circumstances of what happened.
If you are convicted of a first offense of sexual assault in Arizona, you will face a prison sentence in the following range:
- Minimum prison sentence of 5.25 years
- Presumptive prison sentence of 7 years
- Maximum prison sentence of 14 years
If you have one prior felony conviction that can be alleged, the prison sentence that you will face will be enhanced. For a conviction with a prior offense, you will face a prison sentence that falls in the following range:
- Minimum prison sentence of 7 years
- Presumptive prison sentence of 10.5 years
- Maximum prison sentence of 21 years
If you have two or more prior felony convictions that can be alleged, your prison sentence will fall in the following range for a third or subsequent conviction:
- Minimum prison sentence of 14 years
- Presumptive prison sentence of 15.75 years
- Maximum prison sentence of 28 years
If the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault include a knowing or intentional infliction by you of serious physical injury on the victim, the judge can sentence you from 25 years up to life in prison. If the facts include you giving the victim a drug such as Rohypnol, which is known as the “date rape drug”, the court will add three years to the minimum, presumptive, and maximum ranges for your conviction.
If the alleged victim in your case was a minor who was younger than age 15 at the time of the sexual assault, the offense is considered to be a Dangerous Crimes Against Children or DCAC under A.R.S. § 13-705. A DCAC sexual assault conviction carries different penalties depending on your criminal record.
If it is your first DCAC conviction, you will face a prison sentence that falls in the following range:
- Minimum prison sentence of 13 years
- Presumptive prison sentence of 20 years
- Maximum prison sentence of 27 years
If you have a prior conviction for a predicate felony such as a prior DCAC or another serious felony, your penalty range upon a second DCAC conviction for sexual assault will be as follows:
- Minimum prison sentence of 23 years
- Presumptive prison sentence of 30 years
- Maximum prison sentence of 37 years
If the victim in your case was 12 or younger, you can be sentenced to serve a prison sentence of 35 years to life. Alternatively, the judge can sentence you to a minimum of 13 years, a presumptive of 20 years, and a maximum of 27 years.
DCAC convictions require people to serve 100% of their sentences before they are eligible for release from prison. If you are convicted of two counts, the counts must be served consecutively to each other. No matter the age of your alleged victim, a conviction for sexual assault will require you to undergo sex offender registration for the rest of your life. You will not be able to have contact with any minors, including your children or grandchildren.
If you want to have contact with your children or grandchildren, you will first have to complete multiple tests and obtain your probation officer’s consent. Finally, under A.R.S. § 13-801, all felony convictions carry the potential for fines of up to $150,000, plus an additional 84% surcharge.
Collateral Consequences for a Sex Assault Conviction
Some people who are charged with criminal offenses believe that once they complete their sentences and their cases are closed by the criminal court, they can move on with their lives. If you are convicted of sexual assault in Arizona, however, you will face collateral consequences that can continue to impact your life long after your original sentence has been completed.
Having a sexual assault conviction on your record will make it very difficult for you to secure employment. Many private employers run criminal background checks on their prospective employees. When an employer sees a sexual assault conviction on your record, you are unlikely to be hired for the job. A sexual assault conviction can preclude you from applying for certain positions, including social work, social services, teaching, and many others. If you have a professional license in law, medicine, or another regulated profession, a sexual assault conviction will likely lead to the loss of your license.
Sex offenders also have problems finding places to live. If your sexual assault conviction is also a DCAC, you will be prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Many landlords refuse to rent apartments to anyone with a felony on his or her criminal record. Even landlords that will allow tenants to have certain types of felony convictions are reticent to rent to people who have sexual assault convictions for fear of potential liability.
Finally, having a conviction for sexual assault on your record can also cause problems in your relationships with your friends and family and can make it more difficult for you to form romantic relationships with others. Others may view you harshly, and the stigma of being a registered sex offender and someone who has a sexual assault conviction can stay with you for the rest of your life.
Common Defenses to Sexual Assault / Rape charges
When you meet with your criminal defense lawyer, he or she will examine your case and the evidence to identify all of the potential defenses that might be available to you. The defenses that might be raised in your case will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the report, the investigation, and your arrest. Some of the potential defenses that might be raised include the following:
- False accusation of sexual assault
- Consent was given
- Bad eyewitness identification procedures / False identification
- Constitutional violations of your rights
- Flaws in the forensic portion of the investigation
While it is not too common, some people do make false accusations of sexual assault. This is particularly insidious because a falsely accused person can still be convicted and can spend years in prison. A famous example of this occurring is the Brian Banks case. Banks was a promising high school football star who had scholarship offers to college when he was falsely accused of rape by a schoolmate. After he spent years in prison, the woman who falsely accused him admitted that she had lied to secure money from the school through a lawsuit. Banks was sentenced to serve a prison sentence of five years. While he was exonerated, he spent five years in prison for a rape that he did not commit because of being falsely accused.
If the attorneys at DM Cantor believe that you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, we will aggressively investigate the charges to expose the false accusations and try to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case against you.
Consent is another defense to sexual assault charges. In some cases, an alleged victim will claim that he or she was sexually assaulted when he or she did consent to sexual intercourse at the time that it occurred. This often happens at college parties or after people meet at bars. Some women will have sexual intercourse at parties or after meeting people at bars and will claim that they did not consent because of concerns about their reputations or about how their boyfriends or girlfriends will react. Others may make these types of claims because they are angry with their alleged rapists.
False identifications are another prevalent problem. Research demonstrates that eyewitness identification is faulty because of how people perceive events differently. The police often use flawed identification procedures such as leading the witnesses to select a specific picture out of a photo lineup or using pictures in a photo lineup that are too dissimilar to the suspect that the police want to charge. If there appears to be an identification issue, a good defense attorney will file a motion to challenge the eyewitness identification and the procedures that were used to obtain it.
The police and lab analysts also sometimes make mistakes when they collect and test the evidence. For example, if there are problems with the chain of custody for forensic evidence that was gathered in your case, your lawyer may challenge the evidence as inadmissible because of the inability of the prosecutor to show the chain of custody. Lab analysts also sometimes make mistakes with DNA analysis. Your criminal defense lawyer may hire a DNA expert to examine any DNA evidence in your case to potentially challenge it.
Your lawyer will likely want to examine all of the evidence and interview all of the witnesses who might have seen you or the victim before the alleged rape occurred. He or she may subpoena and review any video surveillance evidence that might be available and ask you to submit to a polygraph examination. A lawyer might also photograph the crime scene and diagram it. Finally, a lawyer might interview character witnesses to determine both your and the alleged victim’s reputation for untruthfulness and promiscuity.
If you were interrogated by the police after your arrest, we might look at how the interrogation was conducted to determine whether your constitutional rights were violated. If the police failed to read you your Miranda rights, denied you your right to counsel after you asked for a lawyer, or coerced you, we may be able to get any incriminating statements that you subsequently made suppressed.
Get Help from an Experienced Defense Attorney
If you’re suspected or charged with Sexual Assault or Rape in Arizona, you need to consult with a lawyer about your case. Sex crimes in Arizona carry very strong penalties if you are convicted. David Michael Cantor is a Certified Criminal Defense Specialist and the premier Defense Attorney in Arizona. His associations and awards include being an AV® rated lawyer, listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers® – Criminal Law Section, voted Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association, voted Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer by the American Society of Legal Advocates, and is a fellow member of the American Bar Foundation. At DM Cantor, we have over 5,000+ case victories and 150+ Complete Jury Trial Acquittals, Not Guilty / All Charges!