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Is Sugar Dating Legal in Arizona?

Posted on December 9, 2023 in Sex Crimes

Certain laws in Arizona may apply to romantic relationships and dating scenarios. Various circumstances are viewed as illegal if they meet the definition of sexual exploitation, harassment or manipulation. One example is “sugar dating,” which refers to various dating arrangements characterized by one older, wealthy spouse and one young spouse in need of financial assistance. This type of dating could be viewed as exploitative and go against Arizona law.

What Is Sugar Dating?

Sugar dating is when two people with a disparity in income enter into a romantic relationship that is mutually beneficial for both of them. It occurs when one wealthy individual (typically older) agrees to supplement the other person’s income or buy him or her things in exchange for benefits such as sex or romantic involvement.

In this arrangement, the wealthier spouse is often referred to as a “sugar daddy” or “sugar mama,” while the spouse in need of financial assistance is the “sugar baby.” Today, there are dating apps and websites specifically created to help people enter into these types of relationships. Examples include SeekingArrangement and SugarDaddyMeet.

Why Is Sugar Dating Viewed as Exploitative?

Sugar dating or “sugaring” is a gray area of the law. While there are no specific laws against it in Arizona, it is generally viewed as exploitative and could potentially meet the definition of various sex crimes. Sugar dating can be exploitative due to the imbalanced power dynamic between the two individuals. The older, wealthier spouse may be in a position to exploit or manipulate the younger person into engaging in unwanted sexual acts. This could result in the crimes of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.

Sugar Dating vs. Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Legally speaking, sugar dating is not prostitution. The state’s definition of prostitution according to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-3214 is to engage in, offer to engage in or agree to sexual activity with another person in exchange for money or another valuable. It is a transaction, while sugar dating is a relationship between two people.

However, the two are closely related and the lines between them can easily become blurred. Sugar dating can become prostitution if it crosses the line into a transaction that exchanges money or goods for sexual intercourse or other sexual contact. It could also cross the line into sex trafficking if the commercial sex boundary is crossed.

Sex trafficking is classified in A.R.S. 13-1307 as intent to cause another person to engage in any prostitution or sexually explicit performance by deception, force or coercion. In a sugar dating scenario, the sugar daddy/mama could threaten to withhold funds if the sugar baby does not comply with sexual requests. This is an example of coercion that could be viewed as sex trafficking.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges for Sugar Dating?

Sugar dating is a risky behavior that could result in one or more criminal charges being brought against either party. If you are facing charges for sugaring, such as for prostitution or sexual assault, contact the criminal defense attorneys at AZ Defenders for a free and confidential case evaluation. We can help you understand and defend your rights as a defendant. We are highly experienced sex crime defense lawyers in Arizona.