Sexual Abuse Charges

Sexual abuse allegations in Arizona carry severe legal consequences and have a lasting impact on an individual's life, reputation, and future opportunities. These cases are often highly complex, with laws specific to each alleged offense's circumstances.


At Kolsrud Law Offices, we understand the gravity of such charges and specialize in providing expert legal defense for those accused of sex crimes. Our comprehensive knowledge of Arizona's sexual abuse statutes, including ARS 13-1404, enables us to offer legal strategies tailored to the unique aspects of each case.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Sexual Abuse defined under Arizona Law

How Is Sexual Abuse Defined Under Arizona Laws?

Sexual abuse is a specific criminal offense in Arizona, and it has a well-defined legal meaning under ARS 13-1404. Understanding this definition is essential for both those facing charges and the general public.


Definition According to ARS 13-1404

  • Sexual abuse is defined as intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact with any person who is fifteen or more years of age without consent. The definition emphasizes the lack of consent rather than the nature of the sexual contact.

Clarification on 'Sexual Contact'

  • The term “sexual contact” in this context refers to any direct or indirect touching, fondling, or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast. It does not necessarily involve intercourse.

Understanding Consent

  • Consent must be given freely, and any coercion, force, or inability to give consent due to age, mental disability, or intoxication renders the act non-consensual.

Differentiating from Other Sexual Offenses

  • Sexual abuse is distinct from sexual assault and other sexual offenses in Arizona, and each has its unique definition and penalties.


The specific language of ARS 13-1404 is critical in legal proceedings, as it forms the basis for both prosecution and defense. A conviction for sexual abuse is charged as a Class 5 felony if the victim is fifteen or older, but circumstances can elevate the charges, such as the victim's age.

sexual abuse vs assault

Sexual Abuse vs. Sexual Assault

Understanding the distinctions between sexual abuse and sexual assault in Arizona law is essential, as they are separate offenses with unique definitions, elements, and penalties. Both offenses are serious, but they differ in key ways.


Sexual Abuse (ARS 13-1404)

  • Definition: Sexual abuse involves intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual contact without consent. It emphasizes the lack of consent rather than the nature of the sexual act itself.
  • Penalties: Sexual abuse is a  Class 5 felony if the victim is fifteen years of age or older and can lead to imprisonment, fines, and mandatory treatment programs.
  • Key Elements: The primary focus is on non-consensual sexual contact, not necessarily involving intercourse.

Sexual Assault (ARS 13-1406)

  • Definition: Sexual assault, often referred to as rape, involves intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse without consent. It represents a more severe form of non-consensual sexual activity.
  • Penalties: Conviction typically results in a Class 2 felony, with potentially longer imprisonment and more substantial fines.
  • Key Elements: The defining aspect of sexual assault is non-consensual sexual intercourse, setting it apart from sexual abuse.

In summary, while both sexual abuse and sexual assault deal with non-consensual sexual activities, they are distinguished by the nature and severity of the acts. Sexual abuse focuses on sexual contact without consent, whereas sexual assault involves non-consensual sexual intercourse. 


Penalties for Sex Abuse Charges

Penalties for Sex Abuse Charges

The penalties for sex abuse charges in Arizona are severe and multifaceted. A conviction under ARS 13-1404 can lead to a complex set of legal consequences that extend beyond immediate legal sanctions.


Classification as a Felony

 Sexual abuse is a felony in Arizona. The severity of the felony classification can depend on various factors, including the age of the victim.

    • Class 5 Felony: If the victim is 15 years of age or older.
    • Class 3 Felony: If the victim is under the age of 15.

Potential Sentences

A conviction can lead to imprisonment, with the possibility of a lengthy sentence depending on the circumstances of the case. Sentences can range from several months to several years.

Fines and Probation

in addition to prison time, individuals convicted of sexual abuse may face substantial fines and a period of probation, during which compliance with specific conditions is required.

Mandatory Education or Treatment Programs

Convicted individuals may also be required to participate in sexual offender treatment or education programs.

Impact on Professional and Personal Life

A conviction can lead to a loss of professional licenses, difficulty finding employment, and strained personal relationships.

Mandatory Registration as a Sex Offender

This requirement mandates that individuals convicted of specific sexual offenses must register with local law enforcement and provide regular updates to their information.



Penalties for Sex Abuse Charges

Classification Incarceration Time Fines Probation Additional Penalties
Class 5 Felony (Age 15 or older) 0.5 to 2.5 years Up to $150,000 Up to 3 years Mandatory treatment programs
Class 3 Felony (Under Age 15) 5 to 15 years Up to $150,000 Up to 5 years Mandatory treatment programs
What Are Potential Defenses to Sexual Abuse Charges?

What Are Potential Defenses to Sexual Abuse Charges?

In Arizona, sexual abuse charges under ARS 13-1404 are a serious legal concern, carrying significant consequences upon conviction. The law, however, allows for various defenses depending on the specifics of the case. Here are some possible defenses:


  • Consent

    • If it can be proven that the alleged sexual contact was consensual, this could be a defense to sexual abuse charges.
    • This defense may require evidence, such as communications or witness testimony, demonstrating mutual agreement to the sexual activity.

  • Mistaken Identity

    • Incorrectly identifying the perpetrator may lead to a mistaken identity defense.
    • Providing evidence like alibis or other verification to show that the accused was not the offender may be essential.

  • Age of Consent

    • Understanding the legal age of consent and presenting evidence that both parties were above this age could negate the charges.
    • In Arizona the legal consent age is 18

  • False Allegations

    • Accusations might be false due to various reasons like personal vendettas, misunderstandings, or other motivations.
    • Proving the falsity of the claim may require a comprehensive investigation into the evidence and witnesses.

  • Insufficient Evidence

    • The burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • A defense may arise if the evidence is inadequate to substantiate the charges, which could result in an acquittal or dismissal.

  • Constitutional Rights Violations

    • If any constitutional rights of the accused were violated during the arrest or investigation, it might lead to a suppression of evidence or even dismissal of the charges.

The National Registry of Exonerations reported that in a study period, over 20% of sexual abuse convictions that were later overturned involved false accusations.

Dangerous Crimes Against Children and Sexual Abuse

Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC) is a term used in Arizona law to encompass specific offenses committed against minors, including sexual abuse. These crimes are considered particularly severe and are subject to enhanced penalties and sentencing guidelines.

Definition of DCAC

  • Under ARS 13-705, Dangerous Crimes Against Children include a range of criminal offenses committed against minors under the age of 15, such as sexual abuse (ARS 13-1404), sexual assault, molestation, and others.

Sexual Abuse and DCAC

  • Sexual abuse of a minor under 15 falls under the category of DCAC. It includes engaging in sexual contact without consent and is considered a Class 3 felony when involving a minor under 15.

Enhanced Penalties

  • Conviction of a DCAC offense leads to mandatory imprisonment without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The sentences can be significantly longer compared to crimes against adults or older minors.

Repeat Offenses

  •  Repeat offenses under the DCAC statutes result in even more severe penalties, including life imprisonment for some offenses.


Dangerous Crimes Against Children Penalties 

Offense Classification Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence
Sexual Abuse (ARS 13-1404) Class 3 Felony (under 15 years old) 5 years 15 years
Sexual Assault (ARS 13-1406) Class 2 Felony (under 15 years old) 10 years 25 years
Child Molestation (ARS 13-1410) Class 2 Felony (under 15 years old) 10 years 24 years
Why Choose Kolsrud Law Offices to Defend You

Why Choose Us

When grappling with severe allegations like sexual abuse in Arizona, entrusting your case to a proficient legal team is crucial. At Kolsrud Law Offices:


Experience Counts

  •  Led by Josh Kolsrud, a formal federal prosecutor, our team boasts years of hands-on experience in defending clients against various criminal charges, including sensitive sex crimes. As expert sex crimes attorneys, we translate this experience into effective, tailored strategies that align with the unique aspects of each defendant's case.

Client-Centric Approach

  • We place our clients at the center of everything we do, prioritizing transparent communication, personalized attention, and a relentless pursuit of protecting their rights. We ensure that our clients are informed at every stage, empowering them to make well-informed decisions.

Comprehensive Free Consultations 

  • In-Depth Case Evaluation: Our law firm offers free consultations where every aspect of the case is evaluated from top to bottom. This ensures that no stone is left unturned in building a winning defense.
  • Strategic Planning: During the consultation, potential defense strategies are explored, and a clear roadmap for the case is laid out.

Knowledge of Arizona and Federal Law

  • Our extensive expertise in both Arizona state law and the Federal legal system sets us apart as a top criminal defense firm. We are well-equipped to handle even the most complex cases, navigating the intricacies of Arizona Revised Statutes, and leveraging our profound understanding to achieve favorable outcomes.


Facing allegations related to sexual abuse in Arizona is a serious and often distressing situation. Knowing the nature of these charges and the potential defenses available is essential for protecting your rights and future.


Under the guidance of Kolsrud Law Offices,  you can be assured that your case is handled with the utmost competence and care. This comprehensive approach will allow you to face your legal challenge with well-founded confidence, knowing that every legal avenue is being explored for you.

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An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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