What is ARS 13-1404 and What are the Penalties for Sexual Abuse

Mesa Aggravated DUI Lawyers

As Sexual Abuse Lawyers in Phoenix, we represent those that have been charged with Sexual Abuse. Below we will describe what the Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) or the law in Arizona regarding Sexual Abuse.

ARS 13-1404 says:

  1. A person commits sexual abuse by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with any person who is fifteen or more years of age without the consent of that person or with any person who is under fifteen years of age if the sexual contact involves only the female breast.
  2. It is not a defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section that the other person consented if the other person was fifteen, sixteen or seventeen years of age and the defendant was in a position of trust.
  3. Sexual abuse is a class 5 felony unless the victim is under fifteen years of age in which case sexual abuse is a class 3 felony punishable pursuant to ARS 13-705.

EXPLANATION of Sexual Abuse

Sex crimes in Arizona primarily fall into one of two categories: sexual crimes against an adult(s), and sexual crimes against child victim(s).

In Arizona, sexual abuse can involve any form of sexual contact.  “Sexual contact” includes direct or indirect fondling, touching, or manipulating any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast by any part of the body or by any object or causing a person to engage in such contact.

A person may be charged with sexual abuse if:

(1)   there is no consent;

CONSENT is a mutual agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity; it may be expressed, implied, or assumed.  Consent may be based on verbal or nonverbal communication as long as it is mutual. A person engaged in sexual contact has the right, at any time, to withdraw their consent.  Just like giving consent, withdrawing consent may be verbal or nonverbal (i.e. saying stop, physically attempting to avoid contact, etc.).  If an individual becomes aware that consent is not present, whether before or during, any further sexual contact or the pursuit thereof is considered sexual abuse.


Any sexual contact is “without consent” if:

  • the victim is coerced, forced, or threatened to engage in sexual contact;
  • incapable of consent by reason of age, mental disorders or defects, drugs, alcohol, sleep or any other similar impairment of cognition and such condition is known or should have reasonably been known to the offender;
  • intentionally deceived as to the nature of the act; or
  • intentionally deceived to erroneously believe that the person is the victim’s spouse.

To summarize, for the protection of both parties involved, if there is any question as to whether or not consent is present, sexual contact should be avoided.

Finally, even if the victim was fifteen, sixteen, or even seventeen, sexual conduct is automatically considered to be performed without consent if a position of trust is present.  Defendants in a position of trust include:

  • a minor’s parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, legal guardian, or foster parent;
  • the minor’s teacher;
  • the minor’s coach or instructor;
  • the minor’s clergyman or priest; or
  • engaged in a sexual or romantic relationship with the minor’s parent, adoptive parent, legal guardian, foster parent, or stepparent.

(2)   if the victim is under 15 years of age and the sexual conduct is limited to the female breast only.

Recall that, under Arizona law, the age of consent is 18.  Thus, any sexual contact with a victim under the age of fifteen will result in serious felony charges.  Conduct under ARS 13-1404 is limited to the female breast only.  Any sexual contact with a child (under the age of fifteen) that is beyond the scope of ARS 13-1404, is punishable under ARS 13-705 as a Dangerous Crime Against a Child.

What are the Penalties for ARS 13-1404 Sexual Abuse?

Penalties for sexual offenses are largely dependent on the age of the victim involved.  Sexual offenses are not limited to adults who victimize children.  In fact, felony charges may be brought against defendants as young as fourteen. Whether a sex crime is a felony or misdemeanor depends on the age of the victim, the type of sexual contact alleged, and the intent of the alleged perpetrator.

Sexual abuse is a class 5 felony unless the victim is under fifteen years of age in which case sexual abuse is a class 3 felony punishable pursuant to ARS 13-705.  A class 5 felony is punishable by a presumptive term of two years in prison (even for a first offense.)  A class 3 felony pursuant to ARS 13-705 (Dangerous Crime Against a Child) is punishable by a (minimum) penalty of 2.5 years in prison.

Sexual abuse under ARS 13-1404 is serious.  A defendant found guilty of sexual abuse must register as a Sex Offender if the victim is under the age of 18.

We Can Help, There Is Hope!

As expert Criminal Defense Attorneys in Arizona, we know the impact being charged with Sexual Abuse can have on a person, family, and community. Often there are types of sexual abuse accusations that are not true. We have been defending those who are facing these types of charges for over a decade. We have specific legal defenses that we have used in previous cases successfully. Every case is unique and different, yet in Mesa often times they are prosecuted the same way. It’s our job to understand the facts of your case and minimize or reduce any jail time if we are not able to get the case dismissed.

Recommend that you take the time to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys to discuss how we can help. In Mesa we are located at:

The Hogle Law Firm – Phoenix
1 East Washington St #500
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 757-7788

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