ARS 13-705 is the Arizona criminal law for dangerous crimes against children. These are certain criminal offenses where the victim was under the age of 15. Convictions for a dangerous crime against a child come with longer and harsher prison sentences than an identical offense that was committed against an adult.
1. What are dangerous crimes against children in Arizona?
Dangerous crimes against children are a category of criminal offense in Arizona. To be a dangerous crime against children, or a “DCAC,” all of the following must be satisfied:
- the offense is an eligible crime,
- the defendant was 18 years old or was tried as an adult for the offense, and
- the victim was 15 years of age or below or was an unborn child, and the defendant had a reason to know their age.
These requirements make DCACs similar to crimes of domestic violence: They are normal criminal offenses that are treated differently because of the status of the victim.
Most of the eligible crimes are sex crimes. Eligible offenses are:
- second-degree murder,
- attempted first-degree murder,
- aggravated assault, if it would amount to a dangerous offense,
- sexual assault,
- molestation of a child,
- sexual conduct with a minor,
- sexual exploitation of a minor, including commercial sexual exploitation,
- the luring or aggravated luring of a child for sexual exploitation,
- sexual extortion,
- intentional or knowing instances of child abuse that would likely lead to a death or to a serious physical injury,
- sexual abuse or continuous sexual abuse,
- taking a child for prostitution,
- sex trafficking or child sex trafficking,
- involving or using a minor in drug offenses,
- causing a minor’s physical injury while manufacturing methamphetamine,
- unlawful age misrepresentation, and
- unlawful mutilation.
When the defendant for these crimes was an adult and the victim was under 15, the criminal justice system will treat the case differently than if the crime had been committed on an adult. If a crime is treated as a DCAC, it will impact:
- the prison sentence,
- the collateral consequences,
- the availability of probation, and
- whether the defendant will be eligible for early release, like parole.
Having a criminal defense attorney to fight against these allegations is critical.
2. What are the potential prison sentences for a conviction?
The prison sentences for convictions for dangerous crimes involving children depend mainly on the specific offense and the age of the victim. This makes them different from typical felony offenses, which depend on the class of felony and whether it was a dangerous or a repetitive crime.
However, like with other felonies and misdemeanors, many convictions for DCACs come with sentencing ranges that depend on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors. They may also carry additional prison time for defendants who have been convicted for a predicate felony.
Predicate felonies are prior convictions for the following types of crimes:
- instances of child abuse that involved intentionally or knowingly creating circumstances likely to lead to the death or serious physical injury of a child,
- a sexual offense,
- a dangerous offense using a deadly weapon or causing a serious injury, or
- a dangerous crime against children.
Prison sentences for dangerous crimes against children are served consecutively, not concurrently. The only exceptions are for the following offenses where there was only 1 victim:
- child molestation, or
- sexual abuse.
2.1 Offenses punishable by life in prison
The following first-degree DCACs carry mandatory life sentences, unless the contact was masturbatory:
- sexual assault of a minor 12 years old or younger, and
- sexual conduct with a minor 12 years old or younger.
The following first-degree dangerous crimes against children, though, only potentially carry a life sentence:
- attempted first-degree murder of a minor under 12,
- second-degree murder of a minor under 12,
- sexual assault of a minor under 12,
- sexual conduct of a minor under 12, and
- manufacturing methamphetamine under circumstances that hurt a minor under 12.
If a life sentence is not imposed for these convictions, then the sentencing range will be:
|Minimum term||Presumptive term||Maximum term|
|13 years||20 years||27 years|
Defendants convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for these offenses have to serve 35 years in prison before they are eligible for:
- a suspended sentence,
- pardon, or
- early release.
The only release that these inmates are eligible for are compassionate release and prison employment.
2.2 Offenses punishable by up to 37 years in prison
Other first-degree dangerous crimes against children are punishable by up to 37 years in prison, if the defendant has a criminal background. These DCAC offenses are:
- attempted first-degree murder of a child who was 12, 13, or 14 years old,
- second-degree murder of a child who was 12, 13, or 14,
- sexual assault of a child who was 12, 13, or 14,
- sexual conduct with a child who was 12, 13, or 14,
- manufacturing methamphetamine and hurting a child who was 12, 13, or 14 years old,
- using or involving minors in drug offenses,
- taking a child for the purpose of prostitution,
- child sex trafficking, and
- continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Convictions for these offenses come with sentencing ranges that depend on the defendant’s criminal background:
|Number of predicate felonies||Minimum sentence||Presumptive sentence||Maximum sentence|
|0||13 years||20 years||27 years|
|1||23 years||30 years||37 years|
If a defendant has 2 or more predicate felonies, they can be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of most forms of early release until they have served 35 calendar years of their sentence.
2.3 Offenses carrying up to 35 years in prison
Some first-degree dangerous crimes against children come with up to 35 years in prison if the defendant had a prior conviction for a predicate felony. These are:
- aggravated assault,
- unlawful mutilation,
- child molestation,
- sexual exploitation or commercial sexual exploitation of a minor,
- aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation,
- child abuse, and
Convictions for these DCAC offenses come with the following sentencing range:
|0||10 years||17 years||24 years|
|1||21 years||28 years||35 years|
Defendants who have 2 or more predicate felonies will face life in prison. They will not be eligible for most forms of early release until they have served 35 years of their sentence.
2.4 Offenses punishable with between 5 and 22 years in prison
Other dangerous crimes against children carry up to 22 years in prison for defendants with a prior predicate felony conviction. These offenses are:
- luring a minor for sexual exploitation,
- sexual extortion, and
- unlawful age misrepresentation.
The sentencing range for these convictions will be:
|0||5 years||10 years||15 years|
|1||8 years||15 years||22 years|
First-time offenders are eligible for suspended sentences, though defendants with a predicate felony face mandatory prison time. If prison time is imposed, options for early release are limited.
2.5 DCAC offenses carrying between 2.5 years and 22 years in prison
Finally, some dangerous crimes against children carry between 2 years and 6 months and 22 years in prison for a conviction. These offenses are:
- sexual abuse, and
- causing a minor to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact, including oral sexual contact, with an animal.
The applicable sentencing range is:
|0||2.5 years||5 years||7.5 years|
|1||8 years||15 years||22 years|
While first-time offenders may get a suspended sentence, defendants with a predicate felony will spend time in prison. The early release options for these convictions are limited.
3. What about attempted offenses?
Except for attempted first degree murder and DCACs that can only carry up to 22 years in prison, when these crimes are attempted but not completed, they are second-degree DCAC crimes. They are treated as a Class 3 felony with the following sentencing range:
|5 years||10 years||15 years|
The court can suspend the prison sentence for defendants who do not have a predicate felony conviction on their record, putting them on probation, instead. Inmates who have been incarcerated have very few options for early release. They are only eligible for:
- compassionate release, and
- prison employment.
4. Are there any collateral consequences for convictions under ARS 13-705?
Convictions for DCAC offenses do not just come with prison time. There are also collateral consequences that do not come from the criminal justice system, like:
- required sex offender registration,
- difficulties getting a job,
- a strained family life,
- loss of friends or associates,
- a tarnished reputation, and
- struggling to find an apartment to live in.
People who have been convicted for a dangerous crime against children are also legally required to notify businesses or organizations of their prior conviction when applying for a job or to volunteer, if the organization sponsors activities where adults supervise children. Failing to do so is a Class 5 felony.
 Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-705(Q)(1).
 ARS 13-705(Q)(1), 13-705(N), and 13-705(P).
 ARS 13-705(G).
 ARS 13-705(Q)(2).
 ARS 13-705(M).
 ARS 13-705(A).
 ARS 13-705(B).
 ARS 31-233(A)-(B).
 ARS 13-705(C).
 ARS 13-705(I).
 ARS 13-705(D).
 ARS 13-705(I).
 ARS 13-705(E).
 ARS 13-705(E).
 ARS 13-705(F) and 13-1411(A)(2).
 ARS 13-705(F).
 ARS 13-705(J) and 13-705(O).
 ARS 13-705(J)-(K).
 ARS 13-705(J).
 ARS 13-3716.