Sexual Abuse – ARS 13-1404

In today’s video, we are talking about a crime in Arizona called sexual abuse.

It’s a very serious offense, carries a lot of stigma around it, we’re going to talk about what the specific language of the statute says, how the law works in terms of penalties.

If you want to look at the actual language of the law, you’ll find it in Title 13 Chapter 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, specifically sexual abuse is housed in 13-1404.

If you plug that statute into google, you’ll see the language here but I’ll run through it in a little bit of layman’s terms so you can understand how it works. Let’s take a look at what it means.

First and foremost, sexual abuse is when there is, somebody is intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact. Now, sexual contact is defined in a different part of the law.

It’s not defined in the statute. I have a different video about that, if you want to know what sexual contact is, go look to that definition but more or less, it is what it sounds like, it’s sexual contact.

With any person age 15 and up without their consent. So anybody who’s 15 years or older, if you’re engaging in any sort of sexual contact with them and you’re doing it intentionally or knowingly, meaning you don’t do it by accident, then that will be considered sexual abuse.

That’s the specific name of the law. If that person is under the age of 15 and it involves contact with a female breast, so, that’s it.

If they’re under the age of 15 and it’s only contact with a female breast, that’s also going to be considered sexual abuse.

If it’s with something other than the female breast, if it’s another part of the body of anybody, it’s going to be a different crime, we’ll talk about that later, it’s called molestation.

But specifically here, the law covers two things. It’s any sexual contact with any person over the age of 15 without their consent, or under the age of 15, female sexual breast. Those are the two ways that somebody can be charged with sexual abuse.

Now, consent is not a defense. So, sometimes when people are charged with this crime, they’ll say, yes but that person agreed to do this, engage in this sexual contact with me.

The law says, specifically, consent is not a defense if a person who is age 15, 16, or 17, is part of the case here, and the defendant was in a position of trust.

Another key term of art, it’s a legal term of art that I talk about in a definitions video of sexual offenses but really what that means, if a person is a parent, guardian, adoptive parent, a foster parent, if they’re a teacher, clergyman, coach, somebody in that position of trust, consent will not be a defense, even if they’re 15, 16, or 17.

So, if it’s a coach with a high school student, or a priest with somebody in his congregation, that is something that is not going to be considered a defense if they consent to it.

Penalties are quite serious.

So, for sexual abuse, it’s a Class 5 Felony but it really escalates massively if the person is under the age of 15, then it becomes a Class 3 Felony.

So, you can see here, the penalties are very severe.

In Arizona, our felony scale, Class 1 is at the top, it’s the most serious, it’s really only for crimes like murder, Class 6 is the lowest level felony offense, it’s at the bottom.

So, you can see here, both of these different designations are kind of right in the middle.

You’ve got a Class 3 and a Class 5, they both carry very serious penalties depending on what your prior record looks like.

So, this is how the statute works.

Now, there’s other statues that intertwine with this. We’ve got sexual conduct with a minor. We have molestation, we have other offenses, sexual assault, sexual abuse covers these two very specific things.

So, if you are considering whether you’re going to be charged with a sex offense, it’s important that you understand the wide-range of different conduct that is prohibited throughout the different statutes.

But if you know that you’ve been charged with sexual abuse and you want some help with it, give our office a call.

As I said, this is a very serious offense. It requires a team who knows what they’re doing with these types of charges.

My office, my team here, we’ve handled many of these types of cases, helped many people through them.

Remember there’s a lot of stigma that surrounds any sex offenses. That’s just how society functions.

The fact is, until you’re proven guilty, or you agree you’re guilty, you are innocent, this is the United States of America.

Just because you’ve been charged with a crime doesn’t mean that you’re guilty of a crime. Innocent people are charged all of the time.

Everybody deserves a proper defense.

Everybody deserves due process.

So, if you feel like you need some help, give us a call. We offer free case evaluations, we look forward to speaking with you soon.

Thanks for watching.

Sexual Abuse is a very serious offense that carries real criminal, as well as stigma-related, consequences. The exact language of the statute and the elements required to be convicted can be found in the Arizona Revised Statues under § 13-1404. Sexual Abuse is when someone intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual contact (“sexual contact” is defined by _______) with any person who is 15 years or older without consent; OR any person under the age of 15 if contact involves only a female’s breast. Contact with other parts of the body, male or female, for minors, is not covered by this statute.

Often in sexual abuse cases, information about consent is brought up at the time of the charge or later in court. Consent, however, is NOT a defense in cases where someone who is 15, 16, or 17 years old is the victim and the defendant was in a position of trust; generally, this refers to people such as parents, foster parents, teachers, coaches, clergymen/priests, etc. Other defenses such as a defendant reasonably being unaware of the victim’s age, the age difference (i.e. 15-17 year old victim and under 19yo defendant), and those listed under ARS § 13-1407 should also be explored in building a thorough defense.

Penalties for Sexual Abuse can cover a wide range. The maximum possible sentence will depend on the class of felony one is facing. Sexual Abuse can be categorized as a Class 5 or Class 3 Felony. In Arizona, Class 1 Felonies are the most severe and carry the highest range of sentencing; Class 6 Felonies are the lowest in the felony category. Whether a Sexual Abuse is categorized as a Class 5 or Class 3, depends on the age of the victim. If the victim is under 15 years old, the charge will be aggravated to a Class 3 Felony offense. Other factors such as prior offenses or the facts of the case can also aggravate the charge to a more serious sentencing range.

A Class 3 Felony under this statute (Sexual Abuse of a victim under 15 years old) carries a possible sentence of minimum 2.5 years prison, presumption 5 years prison, and maximum 7.5 years prison. A conviction of this offense also carries a Dangerous Crime Against a Child (DCAC) designation. If someone has a prior DCAC designated conviction, a subsequent conviction raises the sentence range to 8, 15, 22 years as minimum, presumptive, and maximum, respectively. A Class 5 Felony under this statute (if the victim is 15 years or older) carries a possible range of probation up to 2.5 years in prison. Again, prior felony convictions can aggravate sentencing for time beyond 2.5 years. Additionally, a conviction for Sexual Abuse will require you to be registered as a Sex Offender if the victim is under 18 years old.

Although there may be some overlap, there are several statutes relating to sexually motivated offenses. Charges such as Sexual Assault, Molestation, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, etc. will have some overlap and intertwine with Sexual Abuse. However, this statute is very specific and requires elements to be met and proven by the State in order to uphold and charge and prove someone guilty.