If you engage in sexual conduct with someone under the age of 18, does it matter if it's consensual? In Arizona, as in all other states, the answer is no. The age at which individuals have the legal ability to give consent is 18. A common myth is that in order for sex to be rape, it has to be forced. Statutory rape is the exception, because while the "victim" can be willing, their consent does not carry legal weight until age 18.
Arizona's statutory rape law is found in the Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1405. According to this statute,
A person commits sexual conduct with a minor by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under eighteen years of age.
Sexual Conduct with a Minor: Age Restrictions
Statutory rape is a felony offense in Arizona. The severity of that felony depends upon the age of the victim. So for sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 15 and 18, the charge is a class 6 felony. Sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15 is a class 2 felony.
Sexual Conduct with a Minor: Relationships
The degree of the felony can also differ based on the type of relationship the victim had with the defendant. According to § 13-1405, statutory rape is a class 2 felony if the defendant was the victim's –
- Parent (Stepparent or Adoptive)
- Legal Guardian / Foster Parent
- Priest or Clergyman
Sex with a Minor: Affirmative Defenses
In Arizona, a person can only be convicted of statutory rape if they intentionally and knowingly engaged in sex with someone under the age of 18. It may be an affirmative defense that the defendant did not and could not reasonably have known that the victim was under the age of 18. Another possible defense is giving proof that no sexual conduct took place. Both can be difficult to support, which is why involving a skilled criminal defense attorney is essential.
What are the penalties for statutory rape in Arizona?
The sentence for class 6 statutory rape in Arizona is 1.5 years in prison for a first-time offense classified as dangerous. The sentence for class 2 dangerous felony statutory rape in Arizona is minimum 7 years in prison. To learn more about sentencing requirements for felonies in Arizona, view Arizona's Mandatory Minimum Sentences. You can also learn more about rape charges here.