Sexual abuse includes sexual acts that are intended to do the following to the victim:
- Harass; or
The state laws governing criminal sexual abuse may vary depending upon whether the victim is an adult or a minor. Sexual abuse perpetrated upon a child is often referred to as child molestation.
Sexual abuse of an adult is often referred to as aggravated sexual assault or rape. A perpetrator commits sexual abuse if the case another to engage in a sexual act by causing fear in that individual or causing fear in that individual.
Sexual abuse may also be perpetrated if the victim is not capable of comprehending the exact nature of the conduct or is physically incapable of communicating their unwillingness to engage in the sexual act. Sexual assault includes sexual activity that occurs without the consent of all of the parties involved.
Sexual assault is classified as a crime in every state. The laws prohibit any sexual activity with individuals who are unable to consent.
There are certain categories of individuals who are considered to be unable to consent to sexual activity, including:
- Mentally ill individuals;
- Children under the age of eighteen, or
- Individuals who are intoxicated.
Examples of sexual assault may include but are not limited to:
- Forced sodomy; and
In some states, including Texas, sexual abuse is used to describe criminal acts that involve sexual conduct against children. Most states define incest as sexual relations which are engaged in with a close family member.
Individuals commits incest when they engage in sexually inappropriate acts with family members or with extended family members. Individuals who are considered close family members may vary by state but typically include:
- Aunts and uncles; and
- Nieces and nephews.
Aggravated sexual abuse occurs when a perpetrator uses force against a victim or threatens that victims, causing them to fear:
- Serious bodily injury; or
Aggravated sexual abuse may occur when an individual knowingly renders the victim unconscious and then engages in a sexual act. Another example of this offense may be when a perpetrator administers an intoxicant or another drug to an individual without their consent, impairing their ability to control their conduct and then engages in sexual acts with the victim.
A statute of limitations (SOL) provides the amount of time that a victim has to file a lawsuit or a prosecutor has to file charges. Typically, if a victim files a lawsuit after the SOL expires, their case will be dismissed.
Pursuant to Arizona sexual abuse laws, there are different statutes of limitations for civil and criminal sexual abuse claims. Because of this, it is important for a victim to report sexual abuse as quickly as possible.
A court will usually apply the statute of limitations which existed at the time the abuse occurred. This means that although the statute of limitations may have been lengthened during the time since the incident occurred, a court will typically not review a time-barred case.
In addition to these issues, a prompt reporting of an incident and a prompt investigation will likely lead to stronger evidence in the case, resulting in jail time for the perpetrator as well as compensation for the victim’s injuries.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in Arizona
In civil lawsuits, victims of sexual abuse are requesting damages and compensation from their abusers. Victims may be entitled to non-economic and economic damages and well as compensation for their pain and suffering.
In contrast to many states, Arizona does not have a special statute of limitations for cases of civil sexual abuse. The personal injury statute of limitations is applied instead.
A sexual abuse claim in Arizona must be filed within:
- Two years of the act, or
- Within two years of the victim’s 18th birthday for claims of childhood sexual abuse.
If sexual abuse occurs at an individual’s place of employment, they may also be able to file a sexual harassment lawsuit pursuant to federal law. The victim is required to file a charge, or complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the occurrence of the sexual abuse or harassment.
The EEOC will investigate the individual’s claim and determine whether or not a lawsuit will be pursued by the EEOC on their behalf. If the EEOC does not litigate the individual’s claim, a Right to Sue letter will be issued.
A lawsuit must be filed within 90 days of the receipt of the Right to Sue letter.
Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse in Arizona
A criminal case will be filed by the State of Arizona for sexual abuse charges in Arizona on behalf of a victim. In order for criminal charges to be filed, the victim is required to notify law enforcement of the sexual abuse.
Law enforcement will then investigate the victim’s claims. In addition, a prosecutor may file charges against the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is found guilty of the charges, the defendant may be sentenced to jail time and sex offender registration.
In Arizona, no statute of limitations exists for:
- Violent sexual abuse, and
- Sexual assault that involves a child under the age of 15.
Other felonies in Classes 2-6 are required to be filed within 7 years of the offense. A misdemeanor offense is required to be filed within 1 year.
The statute of limitations, however, does not begin to run until the perpetrator has been identified. If an individual needs help understanding the statute of limitations in their case, they should contact law enforcement immediately.
Other Compensation for Sex Abuse Victims in Arizona
In the State of Arizona, a victim may receive up to $25,000 in crime victim compensation for:
- Related medical bills;
- Lost wages; and
- Other expenses.
There are reporting and filing deadlines for crime victim compensation claims. Typically, the victim is required to report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours of the incident as well as to apply for the benefits within 2 years of discovering the crime.
Arizona defines the offense of sexual conduct with a minor as knowingly or intentionally having sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with another individual under the age of 18. This offense is classified as a Class 2 felony or a Class 6 felony, depending upon the facts of the case.
In Arizona, a Class 2 felony is punishable by up to 12 years in prison. A Class 6 felony may be punished by up to 2 years in prison.
Do I Need an Arizona Lawyer for My Sexual Abuse Case?
Sexual abuse and sexual assault claims can be emotionally challenging. They may also involve strict procedural rules as well as a detailed legal analysis.
If an individual is filing a civil suit against the perpetrator, their personal injury lawyer can assist them through the process and educate them regarding the laws of the state and their rights. If a criminal charge is also filed, the state will prosecute the offense on behalf of the victim.
If you are facing charges of sexual abuse, it is important to have the assistance of an Arizona criminal lawyer. As previously noted, the punishment for these offenses can be severe, so it is important to have an attorney fighting for your rights and presenting any defenses which may be available in your case.