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Feldman & Royle, Attorneys at Law


A conviction for a charge of child molestation pursuant to ARS 13-1410 could lead to many years in prison. Fighting a child molestation charge requires an experienced, aggressive attorney who will fight for your rights. Challenging the thoroughness of a police investigation, examining the possible ulterior motives of a victim of their guardian and defending against false allegations and coerced confessions are only the starting point for any solid sex crimes defense.

Child Molestation Definition

What counts as molestation is defined pursuant to ARS 13-1410. In Arizona, a person commits the crime of child molestation if they:

  • Intentionally or knowingly have sexual contact with a person under the age of 15.

The term “sexual contact,” means the touching, fondling or manipulating of the genitals or anus. Sexual contact with only the female breast does not constitute child molestation, however, is criminalized by ARS 13 1404 as sexual abuse.

Child molestation charges are classified as a class 2 felony and are a Dangerous Crime Against Children offense (DCAC) pursuant to ARS 13 705.

SIDE NOTE: Sexual contact in the Arizona child molestation statute does not include the female breast. Touching the female breast would normally be criminalized by a charge of sexual abuse pursuant to ARS 13 1404. Sexual contact with a child 15 or older is also criminalized by a charge of sexual abuse.

child molestation

Child Molestation Sentence

Unfortunately, jail time for molestation charges is very common as the offense is a class 2 felony. While the general sentencing law for felonies (ARS 13-702) would provide a range of between 3 years and 12.5 years in prison for a class 2 felony, the child molestation law specifically states that if you are convicted of that offense, you will be sentenced under ARS 13 705, entitled Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC).

That law says that an adult convicted of child molestation will be subject to a:

The possibility of probation for the crime of child molestation is not possible. Those convicted of sexual child molestation will also be subject to the mandatory sex offender registry in addition to substantial fines and other penalties that may be imposed.

Sex Offender Registry

When it comes to crimes involving children, particularly sex crimes, Arizona law provides harsh penalties for those convicted. In addition to a long prison term and a large fine, if you are convicted of child molestation you will have to register as a sex offender under ARS 13 3821.

 Registration as a sex offender will include registering, within 10 days after remaining in any county, with the sheriff of that county. This includes registering after you serve any prison sentence imposed as the result of the conviction. The requirement, which includes fingerprinting, address, and other information, must be updated yearly or sooner, to the extent your location changes. Your name and your identity will be available on the sex registry website and can be accessed by anyone. Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony.

what proof do you need for molestation

Related Crimes

Child molestation, as is the case with most sex crimes, is a fact specific crime. Based on the circumstances surrounding the crime, the age of the victim and the conduct alleged, the crimes you may stand accused of can vary dramatically.

Child Molestation vs Rape

Child molestation pursuant to ARS 13-1410 requires only the touching, fondling or manipulating of the genitals or anus whereas rape normally involves sexual intercourse. The difference between molestation and rape also often involves the age of the victim. The crime of rape, or sexual assault, can be perpetrated against a victim of any age (though the penalties change dependent on the age of the victim). However, child molestation can only be committed against a child.

Child Molestation vs Sexual Abuse

Under the Arizona child molestation statute if someone is accused of having sexual contact with a child under the age of 15, they will be charged with child molest. However, the definition of sexual contact does not include the female breast. If, instead, someone is accused of sexual contact with the female breast, they will be charged with sexual abuse, not child molestation.
Additionally, the charge of sexual abuse is appropriate when there is sexual contact with the genitals or anus, but the victim is 15 years of age or older. If instead, the accusation includes sexual contact with the genitals or anus of someone younger than 15 years old, sexual molestation is the appropriate charge.

Child molestation vs Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Child molestation charges involve the touching, fondling or manipulating of the genitals or anus. If instead, you are accused with sexual intercourse or any manner of penetration with a minor, the crime becomes sexual conduct with a minor pursuant to ARS 13-1405, not child molestation.


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Child Molestation Defenses

The fact that you have been arrested for a child molestation charge – or on any criminal charge, for that matter – is evidence only of the arrest. You are innocent until proven guilty, as with all criminal cases. When it comes to allegations of sex crimes, particularly those involving children, many people rush to judgment regardless of the facts. They incorrectly assume that the arrest is evidence, or even proof, of guilt.

Because of the rush to judgment, it is important, if you are facing a child molestation charge, that you retain the services of an experienced sex crimes lawyer as quickly as possible. This will provide your attorney the time to identify and develop the best defenses for your case. Examples of common defenses to child molestation charges include:

False Allegations.

The evidence against you consists of false allegations. Remember that the alleged victim in a child molestation case is, by definition, under the age of 14. Some children are easily manipulated by, for example, a disgruntled ex-spouse,

Coerced Confessions.

Sex abuse cases often depend on a confession by the accused. Many times, these confessions are obtained only after intense interrogations. As such, attacking the reliability of a confession is paramount to a solid defense strategy.

Illegal Confrontation Calls.

In addition to confessions made to police, there is often evidence of a secretly recorded confession made to the victim or their parent. These calls, referred to as confrontation calls, make the caller an agent of the State and as such make the caller subject to the same laws as the police. Additionally, it is also important to evaluate the legality of obtaining secretly recorded confessions pursuant to individual state laws.

Miranda Violations.

Failure to advise you of your rights before questioning by the police can lead to suppression of any confession or statements made to the police.

Lack of Physical Evidence.

there may be no physical evidence of child molestation, which means that the entire case could hinge on the testimony of a young child that may, in some instances, be coerced by a parent or guardian or be a complete fabrication of the truth made up by the child.

Illegally Obtained Evidence.

When police collect physical evidence such as DNA, items of clothing or trace materials they will normally apply for search warrants. The circumstances, legal basis and procedural requirements for a valid search warrant must then be carefully scrutinized by an experienced sex crimes lawyer. The failure to properly obtain physical evidence can lead to valid attacks of the State’s case pursuant to illegal search and seizure laws.

Incidental Contact.

Many sexual molestation charges can be met by the defense that the contact alleged was not sexual. What counts as molestation can often be inadvertent and not sexual in nature or intent. In particular with small children, there are a host of situations in which incidental contact may be made, but which was never intended to be covered as a sex offense under the law.

Witness Credibility.

Many sexual abuse cases involve victims unknown to the defendant. Establishing and eroding the credibility of an eyewitness or victim’s testimony is an essential a part of an effective defense.

Technical Legal Deficiencies.

Sexual molestation charges can involve charges that may have been brought under the wrong statute, with the wrong allegations or incorrect aggravating circumstances.

child molestation vs rape

Phoenix Child Molestation Lawyer

Being accused of child molestation is incredibly difficult for the accused, even when you are completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the stigma of a pending charge of this sort, together with the potential sentence and other ramifications of a conviction, require that you act quickly.

With child molestation being a class 2 DCAC felony, a conviction could lead to years in prison, placement on the sex offender registry and other penalties, if you are convicted. It is essential that you understand the nature of the charge, the acts included in the offense, and the defenses that may be available to you. If you are facing a child molestation charge, call Feldman | Royle to speak to an experienced sex crimes lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a child be charged with molestation of another child?

Yes. Child molestation can, and absolutely will, be charged in instances of minors. Commonplace are charges of child molestation when there has been an accusation of sexual contact with a victim under the age of 15, especially when the minor is over 15 but is not yet 18.

These cases are charged as a class 2 felony but are not sentenced in the juvenile courts pursuant to ARS 13 705 as DCAC requires that the accused be at least 18 years of age. To complicate matters further, if a parent or caretaker learns of an offense of child molestation and fails to report the offense, they too can be charged with the crime of failing to report pursuant to ARS 13-3620.

What proof do you need for molestation?

Sadly, too often very little evidence is required to bring a charge for child molestation pursuant to ARS 13-1410. Many times, a child molestation charge includes only an accusation from the victim.

What evidence is needed to prove molestation?

Very little evidence is necessary to be convicted of child molestation under ARS 13-1410. Often times, cases of child molest involve no physical evidence at all and only the testimony of the victim.

What is the difference between child molestation and sexual conduct with a minor?

The basic difference is that sexual conduct with a minor, also known as statutory rape, involves sexual intercourse or oral sex with a anyone under the age of 18; child molestation, on the other hand, only requires sexual contact (fondling genitals, etc.), and only applies, under ARS 13-1410, to children who are under the age of 15. So, the two offenses differ in the nature of the act required to trigger the statute, and in the age of the alleged victim.

What is the difference between sexual abuse and child molestation?

While sexual abuse and child molestation both involve sexual contact (i.e., fondling or manipulation of the genitals, etc.), there are differences between the two. Sexual abuse applies to such contact with alleged victims who (a) are at least 15 years old and who have not consented to the contact, or (b) are under 15, if the contact involves only the female breast. Child molestation involves sexual contact with a minor under the age of 15, excluding contact with the female breast (which, in turn, is covered under sexual abuse).

Is a reasonable mistake as to the age of the alleged victim a defense to a charge of child molestation?

No. The defense of reasonable mistake as to age, while applicable to sexual conduct with a minor, is not applicable in a child molestation case.

What are Dangerous Crimes Against Children, and how does that affect sentencing?

Dangerous Crimes Against Children are defined in ARS 13-705. Those crimes include, among others, child molestation, a number of other sex charges, as well as various crimes that involve children, but do not fall within the category of sex crimes. In general, the inclusion of an offense as a Dangerous Crime Against Children under ARS 13-705 increases the minimum, presumptive and maximum sentence for those crimes. It can also affect the terms on which a person convicted of such an offense may be released from prison. Finally, it provides enhanced penalties for those who have prior convictions for certain offenses.

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