Sexual Assault Attorney in Phoenix, AZ

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Sexual Assault Defense Attorney in Phoenix, AZ

Sex crimes are considered a serious criminal offence and are prosecuted aggressively, here in Arizona. Sexual assault embodies a whole realm of actions, and if you have been charged with sexual assault, it’s important you know what you’re up against, legally. 

Arizona State Statute §13-406

What is sexual assault in Arizona? By definition, a person commits sexual assault by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without consent from that person. 

This includes physical contact with a person who lacks the mental ability to give consent or a person who is incapacitated. The term “sexual assault” describes any sexual act that lacks consent. This includes, if the other person was:

  • Intoxicated
  • Unconscious
  • Mentally ill
  • Under the age of consent
  • Consenting out of fear

or the other person feels they were deceived in order for the sexual act to take place. 

Penalties for Sexual Assault in Arizona

Sexual assault, including rape, is a class 2 felony in Arizona. The penalties often times depend on the facts surrounding the case. A few of these include:

  • Age of the victim
  • Age of the defendant
  • Whether or not the defendant has previous convictions
  • Whether or not the defendant knowingly inflicted physical harm

This list is by no means comprehensive. A person convicted of sexual assault in Arizona could serve between 5.25 years and 28 years in prison. If the person knowingly inflicted physical harm, the defendant could be subject to life in prison. Also, if the victim is under 12 years old, the defendant can also be subject to a lifelong prison sentence. 

Furthermore, they will be required to register as a sex offender, which will negatively impact everyday life afterwards with respect to employment, home ownership, etc. 

It is important to note that Arizona has very detailed sentencing structures for those who have been convicted multiple times, if the crime was against children, if the sexual act involved date-rape drugs, or if the crime is considered “dangerous”. 

Phoenix Sexual Assault Defense Attorney

False accusations of sexual assault are more common than one would think. If you have been charged with sexual assault, it is imporant that you practice, and continue to practice your right to remain silent, and contact Belen Olmedo Guerra.

It is human nature to defend yourself, especially when you did not commit what you are being accused. However, we urge you to take our advice. Telling “your side” of the story will never help you in the back of a cop car. The prosecutor and police officers have already made up their minds about your guilt. Anything you say, “can and will be used against you in the court”. You can trust us on that!

At Belen Law Firm, we understand how sexual assault charges are prosecuted in Arizona. We know how to deal with the aggressive prosecutors and police officers in this area. We work with you, going over every moment, searching for evidence to help prove and create your defense, if you must go to trial. 

Potential Defenses for Sexual Assault in Arizona

In order to establish the best defense for a sexual assault case, after ruling out a statute of limitations violation, Belen Law Firm explores both technical defenses as well as holistic defenses that show the lack of credibility for the prosecution. 

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations protects individuals from having to defend themselves against alleged offenses so far in the past that the facts become obscured. Generally the clock starts ticking from the time of the alleged sexual assault. If the defendant isn’t formally charged with the crime before the statute of limitations is up, legally he or she cannot be prosecuted against. 

If we find that the prosecuting attorney’s office is attempting to prosecute one of our clients in violation of the statute of limitations, we will file a motion to have the charges dismissed immediately. 

All Elements of Sexual Assault Must be Proven

In Arizona, a person commits the crime of sexual assault by meeting all of the following:

  • The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with the accuser, and
  • acted knowingly or intentionally.
  • The victim is another person, and 
  • the defendant acted without consent from the accuser. 

In order to convict someone of sexual assault, the prosecution must prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one of these, the defendant will be acquitted. 

An effective strategy is to find the weakest point of evidence and vigilantly attack it, for one or more elements of the alleged crime. 

Corroborating Evidence

Physical evidence, such as DNA, bruising, or semen, is not always available in cases where the accusation was made well after the alleged contact, or where the contact does not involve penetration, use or force, or obviously, when the accusations are false. One must realize that even if there were all of the “corroborating” evidence available, this doesn’t always mean that the accusations are true. Having these gives us the opportunity to examine, analyze it and use it to discredit false accusations. 

When there is a lack of physical evidence, the judge or jury must determine whose version of the story is more credible. Therefore, the goal of any criminal defense attorney is to discredit the prosecution’s tale of events and build credibility for the defendant. 

Creating Reasonable Doubt with Accuser’s Statements

Before beginning any trial, Belen Law Firm will meticulously inventory every single statement given by the accuser and his or her witnesses. This gives the ability to recognize and explore during trial any remarks made that are inconsistent with previous statements. 

Also, this gives the ability to capitalize on statements that can be proven implausible, sometimes even impossible. Testimony that generates unreliable statements should be inferred by the jury as inconsistent with what’s expected from someone telling the truth. 

Creating Reasonable Doubt by Establishing Accuser’s Motivation

The accuser’s motivation is extremely relevant and can create reasonable doubt. A thorough pre-trial investigation of the accuser’s background, as well as, the circumstances surrounding the allegation, can uncover facts that can easily stack up to motivation.

A few of the motives for an individual to make false claims include:

  • Embarrassment. Even though the accuser involved themselves in a consensual sexual encounter, the person may make a false accusation to cover up the fact that he or she willingly participated. 
  • Revenge or Contempt. A person may make accusations in an effort to seek revenge or because the accuser has developed a contempt for the defendant. 
  • Financial Incentive. A false sexual assault accusation can be a way for one person to gain money from another. More often than not, these accusations are intended to take place without the involvement of law enforcement. Although we see this with celebrities, this can happen anytime the accuser believes that the defendant will have no choice but to comply with his or her demands. A classic example is extortion associated with extramarital affairs. 
  • Divorce and Custody Disputes. One parent may falsely accuse the other of having sexually molested one or more of their children in order to gain an edge in family court. This has become so common that there have been books, articles, podcasts written about it over the past decade. 

Use of Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses testify about facts or general areas that are beyond the knowledge of the typical juror. There are forensic psychologists who can analyze video-taped interviews, especially with respect to children. This area of the law is evolving and is almost a necessity for most of the defenses in trial. 

An expert witness can also expose “taint” hearings. “Taint” occurs when a child is subjected to biased or suggestive interviews. Parents, teachers, police officers, even therapists ask leading questions, such as “he touched you there, didn’t he?” Often times, the adult is not aware of the suggestive nature of his or her questioning. Other times the adult may deliberately or maliciously attempt to distort the child’s understanding of what actually happened. Either way, children who are more eager to please adults will often give the answer that they feel like the adult wants to hear and can even build false memories that never actually occurred. 

Contact Sexual Assault Criminal Defense Attorney, Belen Olmedo Guerra

If you’ve been charged with sexual assault in Arizona, you need an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney, like Belen Olmedo Guerra. Sexual assault charges are among the most serious types of sex crimes, and a conviction can lead to not only several penalties, but also to mandatory sex offender registration, which can brand you as a sexual predator for the rest of your life.

Belen understands the severity of sexual assault charges and for that reason, is considered a 24 hour criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Criminal Defense Practice Areas

The Belen Law Firm is foremost a criminal defense firm that handles other types of criminal charges and offenses:

Homicides

Juvenile Offenses

Sex Offense

Theft Crimes

Violent Crimes

Federal Crimes

Domestic Violence

DUI Offenses

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