What Is the Difference Between Rape and Statutory Rape?
When it comes to criminal sexual activity, statutory rape is one of the most disturbing. As passionate and committed advocates, we understand the confusion and fear of being charged with statutory rape, or sexual conduct with a minor under Arizona law. The significant emotional, psychological, physical, and financial trauma should not be navigated alone. If you’ve been accused of statutory rape or sexual conduct with a minor, it’s essential to take these allegations seriously regardless of their merit.
What is Statutory Rape?
What is statutory rape, and what does it mean to be accused of it? Statutory rape is a common or layman’s term for sexual conduct with a minor who is under 18 but older than 15 years old. Sexual conduct with a minor refers to unlawful sexual contact with a minor that includes oral sexual contact, digital penetration, sexual intercourse, or masturbatory conduct with anyone under 18. In Arizona, “rape” is identified as sexual assault, and “statutory rape” is identified as sexual conduct with a minor. The significant difference between sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape) and sexual assault (rape) is that consent has no bearing when it includes minors. The victim is not considered the legal age to consent to any sexual activity regardless of whether they were willing participants. There is also a significant difference in sexual conduct with a minor who is under 15 years old and sexual conduct with a minor over 15 years old. If the minor is under the age of 15, there is no defense even if a person believed the individual was over 18. If, however, the minor is over 15 years old, then it is a defense if a person believed the minor was over 18.
Sexual Assault (Rape) refers to non-consensual oral sexual contact, digital penetration, or sexual intercourse that is achieved by force, threats, incapacitation, or fraud. During prosecution, consent plays a vital role in the direction of these cases. It’s important to note that sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape) and sexual assault (rape) are very different and separate crimes with specific evidentiary and sentencing rules associated with each. There are many actions considered unlawful sexual conduct with a minor that is related to statutory rape, including:
- Attempted sexual assault – This occurs when an individual attempts to engage in sexual conduct, including oral contact or any penetration with someone else without that person’s consent. When it includes minors, it is considered attempted statutory rape and still considered a grave crime. You do not need to engage in intercourse to be convicted. When steps are taken to engage in intercourse using force, threats, or coercion with a minor or an adult, it is referred to as attempted rape. An individual can be convicted of attempted rape when it can be proven that steps taken to engage in sexual conduct were taken when the person could not legally consent due to levels of intoxication.
- Amongst minors, oral sexual contact, digital penetration, sexual intercourse, or masturbatory conduct is still considered statutory rape between minors. Other determining factors of statutory rape include:
- Mental disability
- Physical incapacity
Even if sex is initiated by minors, mentally disabled, or physically incapable individuals, it is considered statutory rape under the law. There is only one exception to this rule called the Romeo and Juliet Law. This litigation refers to minors that engage in sexual intercourse and are less than two years apart in age. It only applies to minors that are 15, 16, and 17. If minors engage in consensual sexual intercourse at this age, they are protected under the Romeo and Juliet Law. This law also applies to individuals who are 18 but are still in high school and engage in consensual sex with partners within two years of the same age.
False Statutory Rape Accusations and Actions to Take
If you’ve been falsely accused of statutory rape, you must take the allegations very seriously and contact our office immediately. In the meantime, you must refuse to speak to anyone from law enforcement about the facts of the case. As attorneys, we can have those discussions with the police, but everything you say can and will be held against you if you disclose details. Other essential actions to take include:
- Define the nature of your relationship with the alleged victim to our law firm
- Define why you think you are falsely accused
- If you are guilty, it’s essential to disclose this information upfront so we can determine the best course of action for the best case results
Defenses Against Statutory Rape
When you’ve been falsely accused of statutory rape or any sexual conduct with a minor, it must be addressed critically and quickly with experienced professionals and experts accustomed to handling these kinds of cases. Our law firm has over 40 years of experience negotiating, analyzing, investigating, and trial litigation in sexual crime cases, including statutory rape Arizona crimes for adults and minors.
As former criminal prosecutors and current sex crimes educators, our sex crimes expertise and background set us apart from other attorneys. When you’ve been accused of sexual crimes regardless of age, we believe you deserve the same defense and respect. Here are possible defenses against statutory rape:
- The accuser told you they were 18
- The accuser told you they were in college
- The accuser presented physical evidence like a drivers license or student ID indicating an age of 18 or older
- Met accuser on a website that showed an age of 18 or older
- The website stated that all persons were 18 years or older
- No sexual intercourse took place
For a defense of no sexual intercourse to be effective, the credibility of the alleged victim and the accused will be front and center, along with all evidence presented. It is also essential to make a list of character witnesses that can attest to your honesty and trustworthiness and the construction of a social history that depicts the positive aspects of your background. This will be valuable in establishing your credibility and positive patterns of behavior.
Sexual Battery and Statutory Rape
Sexual crimes can often get lumped together and confused as being similar when they are not. For example, sexual battery is another crime that is often considered rape or statutory rape. However, it is regarded as a separate crime under the law regarding the activity required for a conviction.
To be convicted of a sexual battery charge, any contact with the accuser against their will motivated by sexual interest can be considered a felony or misdemeanor. No sexual intercourse is needed to be accused or convicted of sexual battery. When the alleged victim is a minor, it is considered the sexual battery of a minor. The punishment is different as well:
- Rape – A rape conviction will come with a felony conviction. It also carries a prison sentence with registration as a sex offender.
- Statutory rape – A statutory rape conviction is a felony with a prison sentence and registration as a sex offender.
- Sexual battery – A sexual battery conviction can be classified as a felony or misdemeanor with differing prison sentences and registration as a sex offender.
The Best Statutory Rape Arizona Attorneys
What is statutory rape considered in a court of law? In Arizona, all types of rape are considered felonies. If you or a loved one have been the victim of statutory rape or any unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, we recommend you contact our offices immediately.
As statutory rape Arizona law experts, we can provide the necessary information and tools you need as victim advocacy experts to ensure that you are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect. We also ensure that you can live your life free of harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice process. As sexual crimes experts, we have experience with the following cases:
- Child molestation / unlawful sexual conduct with a minor
- Sexual assault
- Solicitation of prostitution
- Child pornography
- Sexual abuse
Suppose you, your child, or a loved one is accused of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. In that case, you need an attorney with the skills and background on your side who understands how to hold the police accountable to rules of evidence and due process.
Contact us today for a free case assessment and reclaim your life today!