For young people on their own in college and experiencing life without the limits of a home environment, understanding what is permissible and what's not comes down to perception a lot of times. College brings a lot of new experiences to young students, and that includes sex. Where the line is drawn to demarcate consent or no consent to sex or sexual activity is often confusing and can get a lot of people into some serious trouble when no harm was intended.
That "trouble" seems to increase each year at Northern Arizona University (NAU). In fact, for the third consecutive year, reports of rape have increased on the NAU campus. Reports at NAU amount to more than what has been reported at both Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. If you attend NAU or any other college and are accused of rape or another sexual assault offense, your future is at risk. It is important for students to understand the difference between consensual sexual relations and sexual assault according to Arizona criminal law. Knowing the difference can mean all the difference to your future and your success.
What is Sexual Assault in Arizona?
Arizona law uses the term "sexual assault" for rape. A person commits sexual assault if he or she
intentionally or knowingly engage in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without consent of such person.
The law is very clear. If you have the other person's consent, you have not committed sexual assault. Next-day regrets do not make an encounter sexual assault. Remember, you are not guilty of Sexual Assault until proven so by a judge or a jury, so hiring an aggressive, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is essential for protecting your future.
What does Consent mean in Arizona?
"Consent" is an important part of Arizona's Sexual Assault law. Consent does not have to be given in words but can be expressed by a person's actions. As long as the person gives consent of his or her own free will -- by words or by actions -- a sexual encounter is not sexual assault.
It's important to note that under Arizona law, a person under 18 years of age cannot legally give consent to any sexual actions.
Arizona Sexual Assault Penalties
Sexual assault is a Class 2 felony.
The minimum sentence is 5.25 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of seven years. If the offender has one previous felony conviction, the minimum sentence increases to a minimum of seven years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 10.25 years in prison.
In addition, the minimum sentence increases by three years if the defendant knowingly gave the victim without the victim's knowledge of any of the following:
- gamma hydroxybutyrate, or
- ketamine hydrochloride.
A person who "knowingly or intentionally engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person who is under eighteen years of age" can also be charged with Sexual Conduct with a Minor, which is a Class 6 Felony if the minor is over 15 years of age and a Class 2 Felony if the minor is under 15 years of age. A person under 18 years of age cannot legally give consent to any sexual acts, regardless of consent by words or actions.
A judge may also impose a fine up to $150,000 on any person convicted of a felony.
Have You Been Accused of Sexual Assault in Northern Arizona?
Being accused of sexual assault can have long-lasting consequences on your life, beyond the jail time and fines associated with a conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney from The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp can protect your future by building the strongest defense for you. If you have been accused of sexual assault in Mohave, Yavapai, La Paz, or Coconino Counties in Northern Arizona, contact us today for a free case evaluation.