The Differences Between Felony And Misdemeanor Sex Crimes


What ultimately separates felony and misdemeanor sex crimes is the intent, the age of the victim, and the type of incident that occurred. No sex crime is something to be taken lightly, but felony sex crimes are substantially worse. It’s fair to say that the difference between felony and a misdemeanor sex crime is how easy it would be to explain the circumstance as a misunderstanding in which an individual felt or became victimized.


While a minor form of contact between an adult and another nonconsenting adult may be relatively simple to defend against, any type of sexual contact at all between an adult and a child is gravely serious. Penalties for all sex crimes, misdemeanor or felony, have substantially increased over the years. Felonies are even more intense, with a life sentence being a possible outcome for certain crimes.


The only first-degree felony is murder, which means that a class 2 felony is the heaviest felony you can be charged with without ending someone’s life. Since most felony sex crimes are class 2 felonies, they’re typically prosecuted with the full weight of the law.


What Is Considered A Felony Sex Crime?


Several sex-related crimes in Arizona are always considered felonies. A lot of them come with very specific sets of standards that outline the thresholds for which the crime is prosecuted as a felony. All crimes against people under the age of 15 are subject to sets of enhanced penalties because of measures Arizona has taken to increase the severity of crimes committed against children. These are often referred to as Dangerous Crimes Against Children offenses.


Sexual Exploitation Of Minors / Child Pornography


While child pornography is strictly prosecuted in every state, Arizona has some of the harshest penalties. Arizona defines child pornography as being involved in any way with the visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct or being portrayed in a sexually exploitative manner. This includes merely owning or duplicating that content by any means – whether it is physical or electronic. These materials cannot be viewed or exchanged in any way without being subject to criminal prosecution.


Each individual instance, including separate photos, can be counted as a separate charge, with a minimum of ten years per piece of content. This means that five pieces of content is a 50 year minimum sentence – maximums can far exceed the minimums.


Sexual Conduct With A Minor


Children under 18 are legally incapable of consent. There is no way in which it can be claimed that a child voluntarily consented in any kind of sexual conduct. Sexual conduct with a minor is defined as a any situation where an adult person knowingly and willingly engages in intercourse or oral sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18. It is a class 2 felony that comes with mandatory minimum sentencing.


Child Molestation


Knowingly engaging in any kind of sexual contact with a child under fifteen years of age is defined as molestation of a child in Arizona law. The only exception is circumstances that solely pertain to sexual contact with a female breast. No matter the circumstances, the law does not accept the defense that a child willingly participated.


Sex Trafficking


Sex trafficking charges occur when a person forces, deceives, or coerces someone into engaging in prostitution or any kind of sexual performance. It is a class 2 felony. This charge is used for the trafficking of both minors and adults. The penalties for trafficking someone under the age of 15 are substantially stricter, as they constitute as a dangerous crime against a child.


Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse can either be a class 5 felony or a class 3 felony, depending on the age of the victim. A class 5 felony constitutes the intentional sexually-motivated touching of anyone over the age of 15 without their consent. A class 3 felony is reserved for victims under the age of 15, provided that the sexual contact only involved the female breast.


If the individual was a medical professional, this can be used as a potential defense. It is sometimes within the duties of a medical professional (or someone acting under the direction of a medical professional) to make contact with the female breast for the purpose of examination. If the individual could not reasonably know that the individual was underage (for example, they snuck into a nightclub or venue that only allows entry to individuals over the age of 18), this might also be used as a viable defense.


Sexual Assault


Sexual assault is when an adult engages in intercourse or an act of oral sex with an individual who did not consent to contact. First offenses carry a maximum of 14 years in prison, while someone with a prior charge can be subject to a maximum of 21 years or more. If this is a third offense, the maximum continues to increase up to life.


People convicted of sex crimes cannot receive probation, pardon, or early release. Suspended sentences are also off the table. It’s a class 2 felony, and it’s often prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


The only defense against sexual assault is to prove that the victim’s claim of lack of consent is dishonest.


Finding Felony Sex Crime Representation


In Arizona, you can easily spend the rest of your life behind bars following a felony sex crime conviction. The justice system is unlikely to show mercy, and penalties have only become enhanced over the years. You could be fighting for your life, and you need a lawyer to defend you from allegations.


Call us right now – any time, day or night. We can schedule a free consultation to discuss your felony sex crime case. We’ll review the details and let you know what your best defense will be. Every single second counts when you’re dealing with something as serious as a felony sex crime, and we need to begin working on your defense right away.