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Defenses to statutory rape under Arizona law

Arizona state law prohibits certain types of sexual conduct involving minors. This category of sex crimes, commonly referred to as statutory rape, is codified in chapter 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Several defenses to this crime are also included in these statutes.

In this state, the age at which a person is able to consent to sexual activity is 18, and no person below the age of 15 can be considered to have engaged in intercourse consensually. If a minor is between these two ages and engages in sexual activity with an older party, that older party may defend against a criminal charge if he or she is less than two years older than the minor, is in high school and is less than 19 years of age. For example, if an 18-year-old high school student engages in intercourse with a 17-year-old, the former could defend against a statutory rape charge by asserting that the 17-year-old engaged in the intercourse consensually.

Charges of illegal sexual conduct with minors can be also be defended against in the following situations:   

  •          The act in question was performed while the defendant was conducting a lawful medical practice
  •          The act in question was performed in an emergency situation by a licensed health care provider who was rendering a recognized type of medical treatment
  •          The defendant did not know that the victim was below 18 years of age, and could not have reasonably known it
  •          The defendant was not motivated by sexual interests

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that statutory rape is generally governed by state law, but federal laws on the issue do exist. As such, it is important to note that it is possible for an Arizona resident to face federal charges for a sex crime involving a minor. 

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