Victims of sexual assault face devastating consequences for their ordeal. Oftentimes, victims struggle to regain a sense of physical and emotional security, and they can develop a range of disorders and depression. If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault, then understanding how your state treats the crime against you can help when it comes to seeking legal recourse. Every state tends to treat sexual assault differently by providing its own guidelines as to what constitutes sexual assault and what does not. If you have been the victim of sexual assault in the state of Arizona, below is an overview of what conditions constitute sexual assault.
Perpetrators of Sexual Assault
According to Arizona’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program, the state has seen a rise in the total number of sexual assault arrest charges. In the past 10 years, there has been a 24 percent increase in sexual assault charges, which means that victims are gaining the empowerment and support they need to take the necessary legal recourse against their assailants. Current statistics also indicate that, unfortunately, two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Furthermore, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 18, and 80 percent are under age 30.
In the state of Arizona, sexual assault is treated as a criminal offense. Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1406, sexual assault is a class 2 felony. First-time offenders can face a minimum of 5.25 years in prison and a maximum of 14 years in prison. Prior convictions warrant much more severe penalties, which typically lead to an increased prison sentence.
Intimacy or Sexual Assault
Differentiating between intimacy and sexual assault can be very difficult. However, there are two significant factors that affect whether an encounter is intimate or sexual assault. These factors are the victim’s consent and his or her age. First, an individual is a victim of sexual assault if the assailant knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual conduct with them without their consent. The second instance, which involves age, is characterized as statutory rape if the victim is a minor under the age of 15 and the assailant is an adult.
The Burden of Proof
When it comes to cases of sexual assault, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. The prosecution must provide evidence and witnesses to prove that the defendant committed a crime. One major difficulty that most courts and victims face is navigating this dilemma when alcohol is involved. Alcohol makes satisfying the burden of proof more difficult, because intoxication tends to cloud judgment and prevents parties from recounting the exact course of events that led to the assault.
If you or someone you love has been accused of or is the victim of sexual assault in the state of Arizona, the Law Offices of Gonzales and Poirier can provide you with the legal support you need. Our Flagstaff criminal law firm caters to clients throughout our community and the Northern Arizona area. We can help you navigate through this difficult period to help you get the justice you deserve.