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How Do Sexual Assault Cases Differ From Aggravated Assault?

Posted on August 5, 2023 in Sex Crimes

Sexual offenses are heavily penalized in Arizona, with sentences that could impact the defendant for the rest of his or her life, if convicted. Sexual assault crimes can come with a sentence of more than a decade in prison, for example, as well as lifetime registration on Arizona’s Sex Offender List. Aggravated sexual assault is an even more severe charge (with more extreme consequences) than simple sexual assault in Arizona.

Sexual Assault vs. Aggravated Assault in Arizona

In Arizona, the crime of sexual assault is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1406 as intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without that person’s consent. This crime is a Class 2 felony in Arizona. Sexual assault can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Rape or statutory rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Sodomy
  • Oral sexual contact
  • Forced oral copulation
  • Sexual conduct involving a minor
  • Sexual contact using force or threat of force

Under Arizona law, aggravated sexual assault is the crime of sexual assault under circumstances that constitute a more serious crime. Examples include serious physical injury being caused to the victim, attempting to kill the victim during the assault, acting with an extreme indifference to human life, using or threatening to use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, assaulting someone elderly or disabled, or committing a sex crime against a child under the age of 15.

phoenix sexual assault lawyer

Penalties for Sexual Assault vs. Aggravated Sexual Assault

In general, aggravated sexual assault crimes are penalized more harshly than simple sexual assault in Arizona. Aggravated assault is a more serious crime since it involves one or more aggravating factors, such as serious injuries. The penalties for either crime will vary based on factors such as the age of the victim, the offender’s criminal history and whether physical harm was knowingly inflicted against the victim. 

The general sentencing guidelines for a defendant who is convicted of sexual assault as a first offense in Arizona is a minimum of 5.25 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 7 years and a maximum sentence of 14 years. If the defendant has a prior felony conviction on his or her record, these sentences increase to a minimum of 7 years, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years and a maximum of 21 years. With two or more prior felony convictions, the sentences are increased further to 14 years minimum, 15.75 years presumptive and 28 years maximum. 

If a defendant is convicted of aggravated sexual assault in Arizona, he or she will face even longer potential prison sentences. For an aggravated sex crime committed against a child, for example, the minimum sentence is 13 years in prison, the presumptive sentence is 20 years and the maximum sentence is 27 years. This can increase to a minimum of 23 years, a presumptive sentence of 30 years and a maximum of 37 years with a prior felony.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney for a Sexual Assault Allegation

Whether you are facing charges for simple or aggravated sexual assault in Arizona, it is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you as soon as possible. A sex crimes defense lawyer in Arizona can immediately go to work on building your defense and protecting your legal rights. Your lawyer can advise you during meetings with law enforcement, for example, to prevent you from accidental self-incrimination.

Your lawyer can meticulously investigate the sexual assault charge against you, look for holes in the prosecutor’s case and develop an aggressive defense strategy on your behalf. It is important to hire an experienced sex crimes defense attorney if you are facing any type of sexual assault charge to protect your future as much as possible. If you are facing aggravated sexual assault allegations, however, you could be facing even more severe consequences. Contact AZ Defenders right away for a free case evaluation.