Although young people sometimes choose to engage in sexual conduct, the state views those under the age of 18-years-old as lacking the capacity to give legal consent for such contact. As a result, relationships between people over the age of consent and minors may lead to the elder partner-facing serious criminal charges.
Understanding the state’s laws regarding intimate relationships involving minors under the age of legal consent may help people protect themselves and their rights.
Sexual conduct with a minor
The state of Arizona refers to the charge commonly known as statutory rape as sexual conduct with a minor. According to state law, sexual conduct with a minor occurs when someone has intentional oral sexual contact or intercourse with someone under 18-years-old. Depending on factors, such as whether the defendant was a teacher, coach or otherwise in a position of trust to the alleged victim, this offense may classify as a class two or as a class six felony.
Romeo and Juliet defense
According to state law, in response to statutory rape charges, people may argue a defense commonly referred to as a Romeo and Juliet law. The state generally does not pursue criminal charges against those alleged to have engaged in sexual contact with a minor if the following circumstances exist:
- The alleged victim is 15-, 16- or 17-years-old
- The defendant attends high school
- The defendant is not older than 19-years
- The defendant is not more than 24-months older than the alleged victim
- Both parties consented to the sexual conduct
Facing charges for sexual conduct with a minor often has significant consequences. However, building a solid defense may help people safeguard their freedom, as well as their good names.