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Arizona Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Consent of all parties involved is always required for any kind of sexual activity, although one's sexual activities generally are a private matter. Most states still had anti-sodomy laws in the early 21st century that effectively criminalized any so-called "unnatural" sex acts, regardless of consent or whether the act was done in private. Not surprisingly, these laws were used to discriminate against same-sex couples and were found to be unconstitutional by Lawrence v. Thomas in 2003.

However, some consensual sex acts remain criminalized under state laws, particularly when they involve unwitting third parties in an offensive or shocking manner. For instance, engaging in sexual acts in public (or even in private, if the act is visible to others) or exposing your genitals in public are considered illegal under most state laws. This is an evolving area of law that typically reflects the times and the unique culture of each state. In fact, some states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books even though they are unenforceable.

This article provides a brief overview of Arizona laws prohibiting certain consensual sexual acts.

Arizona Laws Prohibiting Certain Consensual Sexual Acts

This article provides a brief overview of Arizona laws prohibiting certain consensual and nonconsensual sexual acts. Keep in mind that 'consent' is a legal term defined by state criminal law. For example, it is impossible for anyone under the age of 18 to consent to sexual activity in Arizona.

Sodomy Laws Applicable to Arizona does not criminalize sodomy; however, "sodomy" is used in obscenity definitions and sexual assault definitions in the criminal code for non-consensual acts. The law related to the criminalization of sodomy was repealed in 2001.
Penalty for Sodomy Not applicable
HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders Under A.R.S. § 13-1415, a court can order that the convicted perpetrator charged with a sexual offense undergo HIV or STI testing.
Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts Adultery: Under A.R.S. § 13-1408, when a married person has sexual intercourse with another other than their spouse, or if an unmarried person has sexual intercourse with a married person who is not their spouse, then the crime of "adultery" is committed. The penalty for adultery is a class 3 misdemeanor. Public Indecency: Under A.R.S. § 13-1403, when a person performs one or more sexual behaviors while another non-consenting person is present, and the person performing the sex act is reckless as to whether the non-consenting witness should be offended or alarmed, the crime of "public indecency" is committed. The sex acts listed in the statute include sexual contact, oral sexual contact, sexual intercourse, and bestiality. The penalty for public indecency is a class 1 misdemeanor unless the witness is a minor. If the witness was a minor, the penalty is a class 5 felony.
Other Crimes Relating to Non-Consensual Sex Acts

Loitering: Under A.R.S. § 13-2905, when a person in a public place solicits another person to engage in sexual activity in a way that is offensive or likely to disturb the peace, the charge is "loitering." The punishment for loitering is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Indecent Exposure: Under A.R.S. § 13-2905, when a person exposes their genitals while another non-consenting person is present, and the person exposing themselves is reckless as to whether the witness would be offended or alarmed, the charge is "indecent exposure." The penalty for indecent exposure is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, when a defendant has two or more convictions of a violation of A.R.S. § 13-2905, then the penalty is a class 6 felony. Indecent exposure to a person under the age of 15 is also a class 6 felony.

Prostitution & Other Related Offenses Under §13-3208, it is a crime to own or operate a house of prostitution. Anyone that does so knowingly is guilty of a class 5 felony. Under this statute, it is also a crime to work as a prostitute. The offense of working as a prostitute is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor. Under §13-3204, it is a crime to receive the earnings of prostitutes. Anyone who does so knowingly is guilty of a class 5 felony.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Penalties for Sex Crimes in Arizona

The facts and circumstances surrounding a particular case determine what sentence a defendant will receive for a guilty plea or conviction for a sexual crime. Generally, a first-time loitering offense is a class 3 misdemeanor and first-time exposure and indecency charges are class 1 misdemeanors. Multiple convictions or incidents involving children under the age of fifteen may result in felony charges. In those circumstances, an individual also may be required to register as a sexual offender. Additionally, Arizona has code A.R.S. § 13-1415, which allows for a court order for HIV or STI testing if a defendant is convicted of certain sexual offenses.

Related Resources

Charged with a Sex Crime in Arizona? Let an Attorney Help You

Criminal prosecution for a sex crime can have serious consequences for a defendant. If you have been arrested for a sex crime, you may consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you still have the right to counsel and the public defender's office in your county may be able to assist you.

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