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Sex with a Minor: Not Knowing Their Age


Engaging in sexual conduct with a minor is a serious crime. Commonly and previously called statutory rape, being convicted for having sex with someone between the ages of 15 to 18 could result in a prison sentence, sex offender registration, lifetime probation, as well as numerous additional consequences. But what if you were unaware that your sexual partner was under the legal age of consent, or you were made to believe they were of legal age?

In Arizona, as long as your sexual partner was at least 15 years of age, mistaking their age can be used as a defense in some cases. According to Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1407 (B), “It is a defense to a prosecution…if at the time the defendant engaged in the conduct constituting the offense the defendant did not know and could not reasonably have known the age of the victim.”

If the defendant made reasonable attempts to know the age of the victim such as checking their driver’s license, it can work as a defense in court.

Sentencing for Sexual Conduct with a Minor (Statutory Rape)

The sentences you face for being convicted of Sexual Conduct with a Minor between the ages of 15 to 18 can vary based on the age of the minor, existing prior convictions, and the facts. According to Arizona Code 13-1405 (B):

  • Sexual conduct with a minor 15 years of age or older is a class 6 felony
  • Sexual conduct with a minor 15 years of age or older sentencing can be enhanced if you are in a position of trust and are not eligible for probation, pardon, suspension of sentence, or release from confinement, is a class 2 felony.
  • Sexual conduct with a minor under 15 years of age is a class 2 felony and a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC), which carries different and harsher punishments

If you are convicted of a Sexual Conduct with a Minor for engaging in a sexual act with someone under 15 years of age, the sentence will vary depending on the minor’s age. If the minor was between the ages of 12 and 14, each count carries a prison sentenced of 10 -27 years with 17 years as the presumptive. Each count is also mandatory consecutive, which means the sentence must be stacked. If the minor was under the age of 12 the Court can impose a life imprisonment sentence where the person is not eligible for parole until they have served 35 years of the life sentence.

In cases where both parties involved were under the age of 18, both parties may be convicted of Sexual Conduct with a Minor. However there are many statutory defenses such as both parties being over the age of 15, consent, the defendant is under the age of 19, and is no more than 24 months older than the victim. Numerous defenses can be used to completely exonerate a person of any wrongdoing.

If you were accused of Sexual Conduct with a Minor and are facing criminal charges, contact our Phoenix sex crime attorneys at MayesTelles PLLC today. We have the training, knowledge, and skill necessary to build you a strong defense and fight for your freedom. Many of our criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors, so we understand how the other side thinks. Call us today at (602) 428-7104 to set up your case consultation.

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