Sexual Conduct with a Minor
Molestation of a Child
Public Sexual Indecency
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation
Most of Arizona's sex crimes are felonies. Some of the offenses are Class 2 felonies, placing them just one classification below murder. The presumptive prison sentence for a first time sexual assault conviction is 7 years, with a maximum of 14 years.
Arizona's laws have several other factors that alter that sentencing scheme. For example, if the victim is under the age of
15 at the time of the offense, the crime is charged as a Dangerous Crime Against Children. In that case, sentences range up to life in prison.
Additionally, many of Arizona's sex offense statutes require a person convicted to register with the sheriff of their county. It might then be sent to your neighbors or placed on sex offender websites.
Finally, a conviction for some Arizona sex offenses will result in the court imposing lifetime probation. Said another way, the person who has served their sentence in prison will never really have a chance to put the past behind them and move on from the allegations.
It is important early in the investigation to hire an attorney and develop a strategy.
In cases involving children alleged to be victims, the case typically begins after the child has made a disclosure of abuse to someone who has then reported it to law enforcement, the Arizona Department of Child Safety, or both. Often, the person reporting the case is a mandatory reporter under Arizona law.
Law enforcement will often conduct a joint investigation with DCS to determine if there is enough evidence to support criminal charges. DCS will focus their separate investigation on the safety of the child. This can include DCS removing children from the home. While the investigations are separate, DCS and law enforcement will often share information.
These investigations can move very quickly when the allegations involve a child living with the alleged perpetrator. They can also drag on for months or years in complex investigations where the child is believed to be safe. Typically the detectives working these cases are considered elite by their departments. They employ a wide-ranging set of techniques to resolve their cases.
The police and prosecution have a limitation on when they can file most criminal cases: a statute of limitations. That period begins to run from the time the state knew or should have known the offense occurred. That can bring some peace of mind to people accused of a crime. However, many sex offenses are not reported at the time of the offense.
Often, these cases do not come to light for months or years after the crime is alleged to have occurred. The limitation period begins to run at that point.
Sex offenses that are Class 2 felonies (sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor under 15, molestation, et cetera) have no statute of limitations. The state can bring charges at any time.
For the remaining offenses, the applicable statutes of limitation generally are:
Petty Offenses: 6 months
Misdemeanors: 1 year
Class 2-6 Felonies: 7 years
It is important to consult with an attorney before assuming a case can no longer be charged.