You face serious felony charges if you are arrested for molestation of a child in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona. If convicted, you may be incarcerated for decades and would face the long-term consequences of being convicted of this crime.
Your first step after your arrest should be to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can mount an aggressive defense for you. You may have strong defenses even if you think you are guilty. By raising your defenses, your lawyer may help you get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense with less harsh punishments.
Understanding What Molestation of a Child Is in Arizona
You must understand what constitutes molestation of a child in Arizona to defend yourself and know what to expect in your criminal case. Child molestation is a sex crime in our state. Under ARS §13-1410, this offense occurs when an individual knowingly or intentionally engages in sexual contact with a child who is under 15 years old.
Sexual contact under this law is the direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals or anus with a body part or object. It is also considered sexual contact to cause another person to engage in this conduct.
This type of sexual contact is different from sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is the penetration of the vulva, anus, or penis with a body part or object or masturbatory contact with the vulva or anus.
The law explicitly excludes sexual contact with a breast as child molestation. Instead, that crime would be charged as sexual abuse.
Penalties for Molestation of a Child
Child molestation is a Class 2 felony. However, if you are convicted of this offense, you would not be sentenced like other Class 2 felonies. Under ARS §13-705, molestation of a child is considered a dangerous crime against children and is punished more harshly.
There is a mandatory prison sentence for a child molestation conviction. In addition, judges are likely to punish defendants more severely, given the nature of this crime. You would be sentenced separately for each count of child molestation. If you are convicted of a first offense, you face this possible sentence:
- A minimum 10-year prison sentence
- A presumptive 17-year prison sentence
- A maximum of 24 years
If this is a second conviction if a dangerous crime against children, your punishment would be increased to:
- A minimum prison sentence of 21 years
- A presumptive prison sentence of 28 years
- A maximum prison sentence of 35 years
The sentence for each count would have to be served consecutively, meaning your prison sentence could be doubled.
Long-Term Consequences of a Molestation of a Child Conviction
You will have a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of this crime. Once you complete your sentence and are released from prison, you must register as a sex offender on Arizona’s Sex Offender Registry for the rest of your life. You would be prohibited from having contact with any children under 18—including your children—unless you had the permission of your probation officer and agreed to undergo specific testing procedures.
In addition, because you were convicted of a dangerous crime against children, you would have restrictions on where you can live. You cannot live within 1000 feet of a school or the victim.
You would also experience other long-term consequences. They include the following:
- Your name, address, and photograph would be published in the Sex Offender Registry and could be accessed by anyone.
- You may experience bias against you and humiliation
- You could lose your relationships with your family and friends.
- You would have difficulty obtaining employment.
- You would have limited housing options.
- You may have trouble obtaining an education.