Sexual Misconduct with a Minor

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Charges of Sexual Misconduct in Arizona

Sexual misconduct with a minor carries severe penalties that can affect you for the rest of your life. Therefore, if you face charges for sexual misconduct with a minor, you should understand the applicable laws, legal procedures, and potential penalties. A sex crime defense attorney can provide you with critical guidance so you know your legal rights when facing criminal charges for sexual misconduct with a minor.

What Is Sexual Misconduct With a Minor Per Arizona Law?

Arizona law defines sexual misconduct with a minor as any act of sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with a minor under 18 years old. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 57,000 children suffered sexual abuse in 2016 alone. Most victims experience abuse at the hands of an adult in a position of trust. Ninety-three percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse knew the victim, such as people in a position of trust or authority.

What Is a Position of Trust?

A position of trust refers to a situation in which one person has authority over another.

In situations involving sexual misconduct with a minor, people in a position of trust may include:

  • Parents, step-parents, foster parents, or other legal guardians
  • Relatives, including uncles, aunts, and grandparents
  • Friends of the family
  • Teachers, childcare professionals, tutors, and school staff
  • Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals
  • Coaches and instructors for extracurricular activities and hobbies
  • Clergy, priest, pastor, or another member of a church or religious organization

If you face accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor, you may want to speak with a criminal defense lawyer’s team as soon as possible. Depending on your case’s circumstances, you could face significant long-term penalties, including fines, jail time, prison time, and registry with local and national sex offender registries.

Crimes Related to Sexual Misconduct With a Minor

Sexual misconduct with a minor often occurs with other sex crimes. However, the three most common offenses related to sexual misconduct are:

  • Sexual exploitation of a minor: Exploitation includes recording, photographing, filming, or otherwise developing or duplicating visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexual exhibition or conduct. It also includes the distribution of such depictions by any means.
  • Luring a minor for sexual exploitation: Luring a minor includes offering or soliciting sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Molestation of a child: Child molestation involves knowingly engaging in sexual contact with a child under 15 years old.

Each of the above crimes constitutes a felony in and of itself, and additional charges for the above crimes could accompany sexual misconduct.

Sexual Misconduct With a Minor Is a Felony Offense

Sexual misconduct with a minor in Arizona constitutes a felony offense. Felony classifications in Arizona range from a Class 6 felony, the least serious, to a Class 1 felony. First- and second-degree murder results in a Class 1 felony, and the highest level of felony charges for sexual misconduct is Class 2. The penalties and sentences of each charge vary depending on whether the defendant has prior offenses and the severity of the offense for which they currently face charges.

If sexual misconduct with a minor occurs with a minor under 15 years or older, the defendant faces a Class 6 felony, which carries a sentence of up to 2 years in jail. Depending on the case’s circumstances, a Class 6 felony may result in a misdemeanor. This carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to 6 months in jail. However, the judge or jury can increase the sentence and penalties for a Class 6 felony if they believe the facts of the case warrant it.

Sexual misconduct with a minor over 15 results in a Class 2 felony offense if the offender was in a position of trust as defined above. While a conviction under a Class 2 felony usually carries a prison sentence of up to 12.5 years, the sentence can go as high as 35 years if the defendant has a criminal history, there were aggravating circumstances, or the crime is a dangerous crime against children, under Arizona law.

Sexual misconduct with a minor under 15 results in a Class 2 felony and comes with significant fines and prison time up to 35 years, under the dangerous crimes against children statute. In addition, offenders convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor under Arizona law will not receive parole, suspension, probation, or release until they fully serve their sentence.

Sexually Violent Persons

Sexually violent persons refer to individuals with a mental illness, low IQ, or behavioral disorder that renders them more likely to engage in sexual violence. A designated sexually violent person will remain in a state-managed healthcare facility to undergo treatment for their disorders. Upon completion of treatment, they could go to a less restrictive facility or the facility may discharge them if they no longer pose a threat to the public.

Long-Term Consequences of a Felony for Sexual Misconduct With a Minor

Sexual misconduct with a minorSuppose you receive a conviction for sexual misconduct with a minor. In that case, you must register as a sex offender on the National Sex Offender Registry and Arizona Sex Offender Registry for the rest of your life. Arizona requires individuals convicted of sex offenses to register with the local sheriff’s office within 72 hours of their conviction or arrival in Arizona. Even if you are visiting from out of state, you must provide your registration information to the local authorities.

The local sheriff’s office establishes registration requirements based on a state-mandated risk assessment. The assessment categorizes offenders based on nineteen factors that evaluate their criminal history and crime severity to determine whether they could reoffend.

The results allow authorities to place offenders in one of three warning levels following Arizona law:

  • Level I: Level I offenders present the least risk of reoffending. They do not always need to register on a public sex offender database. The local sheriff can use their discretion regarding whether to disseminate notifications to the community when the offender comes to the area.
  • Level II: Level II sex offenders present a moderate risk to the public because they may reoffend or commit another sex crime. They must register in a publicly-available sex offender registry. In addition, the sheriff must notify the community, local schools, community groups, and potential employers of the sex offender’s presence through non-electronic means and a press release in the local paper.
  • Level III: Level III sex offenders pose the highest risk of reoffending or committing sex crimes after release. They must also register in the sex offender database. The local community must receive notice via non-electronic notifications and a press release in the local paper.

Arizona law prohibits Level III offenders convicted of dangerous crimes against children or similar crimes in another state from living within 1,000 feet of a private school, childcare facility, or the home of a former victim.

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Arizona Is a Felony

Registration as a sex offender in Arizona involves several processes, and failure to adhere to all the regulations, even seemingly minor ones, can have real consequences, including jail time, prison time, probation, and fines.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 provides specific federal guidelines for sex offender registration. Some states, Arizona included, have additional requirements and penalties.

Convicted sex offenders must provide the following information to register in Arizona:

  • All addresses where the offender lives, works, and studies
  • Description, registration, and license plate number for any vehicles the offender owns or uses
  • Fingerprints, palm prints, DNA samples, and a current physical description of the offender
  • Current state-issued identification or driver’s license
  • Current photo of the offender

As a registered sex offender, you must keep your information current and report any changes to the above information within 72 hours of the change. You must also periodically appear before the local authorities to verify current registry information. If you fail to adhere to the registration requirements in the Adam Walsh Act and Arizona law, you could face jail or prison time.

If you face charges associated with sexual misconduct with a minor, you may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney’s team immediately. An attorney familiar with federal and state laws governing sex crimes can help build a defense to try and reduce the severity of your charges and lower the associated penalties.

Defense Strategies Against Allegations of Sexual Misconduct With a Minor

A criminal defense lawyer specializing in sex crime defense can use various strategies to defend you against allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Such strategies may include:

  • The alleged victim was not a minor
  • No sexual acts occurred
  • The defendant received a false accusation of sexual misconduct
  • The authorities violated the accused individual’s Miranda Rights
  • The authorities used coercion, threats, or other illicit methods to obtain witness statements
  • The authorities forced a confession through tricks or intimidation
  • The investigation involved flawed or incorrect procedures
  • The investigating authorities created false, inaccurate, or misleading reports

Your Phoenix criminal defense attorney can leverage their knowledge of legal requirements, investigative procedures, and case law to build a defense tailored to the particulars of your case. Unfortunately, individuals commonly face charges of sexual misconduct with a minor when they have not done anything illegal.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help With Your Sexual Misconduct Case

The goal of your defense involves finding the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to seek dismissal of all charges. If the facts of your case preclude the possibility of a full dismissal, your lawyer can work to reduce the charges, mitigate the punishment, and reduce your penalties.

To protect your legal rights, your lawyer may:

  • Thoroughly investigate the claims, reports, and documented evidence
  • Review evidence documenting the arrest and investigation
  • Examine witnesses to verify details from their testimony
  • Review the alleged victim’s history to establish their credibility
  • Negotiate release conditions and bail
  • Negotiate plea deals to reduce charges and penalties
  • Represent you during arraignment, hearings, depositions, and trial proceedings

You Have a Constitutional Right to Legal Representation

If you need to fight accusations of sexual misconduct, you have a constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment to a fair trial and an attorney to represent you. After an arrest, officers may try to elicit a confession or incriminating statements during an interview. Even if you did not commit the crimes as charged, you may want to remain silent until you speak with an attorney’s team.

Protect yourself by advising the officers that you do not wish to make any statements or answer questions until you speak with your attorney. Then, use your phone call to call a criminal defense lawyer right away.

You should not try to talk your way out of an arrest, as your words could hurt your case. A lawyer familiar with criminal law in Arizona can help you navigate the legalities and protect your right to a fair trial.

Contact a Law Firm That Focuses on Sex Crime Defense Cases

Sexual misconduct charges can be life-altering, so it can prove crucial to work with an attorney with extensive knowledge of the investigative procedures and legal processes associated with sex offenses. A criminal defense lawyer understands how to navigate the entire legal process. An attorney can scrutinize the evidence in your case, negotiate with prosecutors, and represent you at trial if necessary.

You can contact a criminal defense attorney’s team to discuss your case and learn more about your legal right to representation. Some law firms offer free case reviews. You can use this call to get answers to your questions and learn what comes next for your case.

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