When two people engage in sexual relations, the role of consent becomes very important. In Arizona, 18 years of age is considered to be the legal age of consent, meaning a person is presumed to be old enough to understand what is taking place and make the decision to engage in sexual activity at that time. When the question of consent arises in a situation, it’s possible a defendant can be charged with a serious sex crime. To understand the importance of consent in Arizona and how it can factor into such serious charges, here is information you need to remember.
In Arizona, anyone under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual relations. Thus, if you have sex with a 17-year-old individual or anyone younger, you can and likely will be charged with a sex crime. This holds true even if the person who was underage consented, agreed to, or went so far as to initiate sexual relations. Almost always, the charges against you will be a felony, meaning you could face a significant prison sentence.
In Arizona, the age of consent law is aimed at making sure young people are not taken advantage of by those older than them who want to engage in sex. Since those under 18 are not considered to be mature enough to understand the ramifications of their actions, this law was established to shield younger people from being preyed upon by child sex abusers.
If you are charged with sexual assault, it will most likely be classified as either sexual abuse or statutory rape. As to the specific charges in your situation, it will depend upon the sexual act or acts committed, as well as the unique circumstances surrounding what allegedly took place.
When you have been charged with sex crimes in Arizona, whatever attorney you work with will explain the various defenses you have available to you for your case. The most common is that you could not have possibly known the true age of the victim. Other defenses include proving that there is a pattern of false accusations on the part of the alleged victim or that the person was your spouse when the alleged actions took place.
In Arizona, as in many other states, there exists what is known as a Romeo and Juliet law. Aimed at protecting young people who engage in sexual relations with one another, this affirmative defense can protect you as the defendant if it can be proven sex was consensual and you were no more than two years older than the other person.
Should you find yourself facing sexual assault charges, don’t let what may be unfounded allegations against you ruin your life. Instead, learn about your legal options by contacting an Arizona criminal attorney at the Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing.