I Accidentally Had Sex With a Minor – Will I Go to Jail?

Sex with a minor in Arizona is a serious criminal offence. In fact, according to the state’s laws, a person found to have had sexual conduct with a minor can be charged with statutory rape. This is because state laws put the age of consent at 18 years. Therefore, anyone below that age is incapable of consenting to sexual activity.

If charged and convicted with statutory rape, you face severe jail time. However, facing a statutory rape charge does not mean you will face a conviction. There are defenses available in specific circumstances. If you have been charged with sexual conduct with a minor, contact an Arizona sex crimes lawyer immediately to know your legal options.

Sexual Conduct with a Minor in Arizona – Definition, Sentences

Arizona law classifies sexual conduct with a minor as either a Class 2 or Class 6 felony.

  • Class 6 felony – Where victim is between the ages of 15 and 17

Sexual conduct with a victim aged 15, 16 or 17 years is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to one year in jail.

  • Class 2 Felony – Where victim is aged below 15 or offender is in a position of trust

Sexual conduct:

  • Where minor is below 15 or
  • Where the assailant is the guardian or
  • Where minor is below 18 and the assailant is a guardian, parent, adoptive parent, teacher, clergyman or priest, is a Class 2 felony.

If convicted, you face:

  • Life in prison without probation until after 35 years if minor was below age 12
  • Five years in prison is minor was under age 15
  • 20 years in prison if offender was at least 18 and the victim was 12, 13 or 14.

However, a charge for sexual conduct with a minor is not a direct conviction. There are defenses available to you, the defendant. Successfully argued, these defenses will help you escape conviction.

Defenses to Sexual Conduct with Minors

Arizona law envisions a number of defenses to a statutory rape charge:

  • Mistake of age

A defendant charged with sexual conduct with a minor can claim he did not know and could not have reasonably known that the victim was below 18.  

  • Marriage

A defendant charged with sexual conduct with a minor can claim the victim was the spouse (either legally married or cohabiting) at the time the act was committed.

  • Romeo and Juliet exception

Consensual sex where the victim is 15, 16 and 17 and the defendant is below 19 or is in high school and no more than 2 years older than the victim is a defense. This exception protects teenagers engaging in sexual activities.  

If you accidentally committed sexual conduct with a minor, there could be a defense appropriate for you. Call us today to schedule your free legal consultation.