Q: What are sexual crimes?
A: Sexual crimes involve some sexual contact without consent. The contact does not have to be intercourse.
Q: What is sexual contact?
A: “Sexual contact” means any direct or indirect touching, fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus or female breast by any part of the body or by any object, or causing a person to engage in such contact (ARS §13-1401).
Q: What does consent mean?
A: Consent can not only be withdrawn at any time, but sometimes a person is not capable of giving consent at all. The law actually talks about sex acts “without consent” and can be any of the following:
- The victim is coerced by the immediate or threatened use of force against a person or property.
- Unable to give consent either because of age, alcohol, drugs, or some disability.
- The victim is intentionally deceived about the nature of the act.
- The victim is intentionally deceived to falsely believe the person committing the act is the victim’s spouse (ARS §13-1401).
Q: What are the penalties for sexual crimes?
A: The penalty will depend on many things, including the amount of force used, the nature of the sexual conduct, and the age of the victim. Many sexual crimes are considered felonies, the most serious type of criminal violation.
Q: If I am 18, and my girlfriend/boyfriend is only 16, is it a crime for us to have sex?
A: It is illegal to have any sexual contact with anyone under 18, even if that person “consents” (ARS §13-1405). However, there are exceptions or defenses to the crime; they are listed in ARS § 13-1407(F).
Q: Can sexual crimes occur within a marriage?
A: Yes. The same laws that apply to sex crimes outside the marriage apply to sex crimes within the marriage.
Q: What is sexual assault?
A: Sexual assault is a crime, and a felony. Sexual assault is committed by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without the consent of that person (ARS §13-1406).
Q: Oh come on — I just grabbed her butt — so what’s the big deal?
A: Sexual abuse is a crime, and a felony. A person commits sexual abuse by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with any person 15 or older without that person’s consent or with intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with a person under 15 years of age if the sexual contact involves only the female breast (ARS §13-1404). Sexual contact with other parts of the victim’s body if the victim is under 15 years of age could result in even more serious charges.
Conviction of nearly all sex crimes requires lifetime registration as a sex offender (ARS §13-3821).
A victim of harassment that arises out of a dating relationship may also obtain a court order against that harassment (ARS §12-1809).
Q: Someone put pictures of kids having sex on the net that I downloaded to my computer. Is that a crime?
A: Yes. A person commits sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly possessing any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct (or by duplicating, electronically transmitting, or exchanging the depiction) (ARS §13-3553). It is a felony.
Q: If I text a naked picture of my 16 year old girlfriend to my friends is that illegal?
A: Yes. Even if you know the person in the picture, it is sexual exploitation of a minor if a person knowingly possesses any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct (or by duplicating, electronically transmitting, or exchanging the depiction) (ARS §13-3553). It is a felony.
Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated. The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here.