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What are the Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Laws in Arizona

Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse (ARS §13-3623) are very serious charges and should not be taken lightly. They can carry significant, life-changing penalties and fines, not to mention including years of prison time. This article discusses what are the child abuse laws, possible defenses and an in depth look at the penalties.

In this video, David Cantor explains these charges:


What is Considered Abuse in the State of Arizona?

According to ARS §8-201, abuse is defined as follows:

The infliction or allowing of physical injury, impairment of bodily function or disfigurement or the infliction of or allowing another person to cause serious emotional damage as evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or untoward aggressive behavior and which emotional damage is diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist and is caused by the acts or omissions of an individual who has the care, custody and control of a child.

Abuse includes:

  1. Inflicting or allowing sexual abuse pursuant to section 13-1404, sexual conduct with a minor pursuant to ARS 13-1405, sexual assault pursuant to section 13-1406, molestation of a child pursuant to section 13-1410, commercial sexual exploitation of a minor pursuant to section 13-3552, sexual exploitation of a minor pursuant to section 13-3553, incest pursuant to section 13-3608 or child sex trafficking pursuant to section 13-3212.
  2.  Physical injury that results from permitting a child to enter or remain in any structure or vehicle in which volatile, toxic or flammable chemicals are found or equipment is possessed by any person for the purpose of manufacturing a dangerous drug as defined in section 13-3401.
  3.  Unreasonable confinement of a child.

What are some Defenses for Charges of Abuse?

In a child abuse, or vulnerable adult abuse, case in the State of Arizona, the biggest burden of proof is proof of intention. It must be proven that the Defendant meant to harm the victim. If that cannot be proven, the Defendant can get a less harsh conviction and sentence, or even be cleared of all charges. Majority of abuse charges in the State of Arizona are charged under “recklessness” or “negligence” standards because they may be easier to prove.

With the grounds of “negligence”, the defense must show that the Defendant’s care of the victim was nothing outside of the norm. For example, if you are babysitting a child and the child is running and falls breaking his or her leg, that would not be considered abnormal in the standard of care. No one can be expected to be next to a child and catch their every fall every second of the day. That is unrealistic, and the Court is aware of that. Another example is when an elderly person falls in a nursing home or at their house while under the supervision of a nurse. It is understood that a nurse cannot supervise every second of the day.

Another defense we frequently resort to is a “Miranda Rights Violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (especially an admission of guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon whether or not the statement was given voluntarily. If we can show that the police coerced you into making a false confession (especially without legal counsel present) or Miranda Rights were not properly and comprehensibly read to you, we can suppress all evidence and statements just off of carelessness and incompetency of the police alone.

Every case is different in its own way, however, there are many other possible defenses that can come into play., like Denial of Right to Counsel, challenging the validity of a search warrant, questioning the quality of police work via false statements, a flawed photo line-up, etc.

Our child abuse lawyers at DM Cantor have attended numerous seminars sponsored by the National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center, the leading national organization that assists in the defense of those falsely accused of some form of abuse. Our abuse lawyers have been highly trained in the clinical and forensic interviewing techniques of children and their families. This allows us to question detectives and mental health professionals who may have initially interviewed the alleged victim. If the interviewing process was not conducted properly, it can often be shown that the alleged victim was led into giving the necessary answers required to charge the defendant.

We have an extensive Child Abuse & Vulnerable Adult Abuse Case Victories page that we encourage you to review. One of the most high-profile abuse cases in Arizona state history that Specialist David Cantor handled himself was that of the Lisa Randall, the former daycare provider charged with capital murder in the death of a baby in her care.


Penalties for Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse

In the State of Arizona, punishment for abuse to a child and vulnerable adult abuse vary. Severity of the abuse crime is broken down into multiple categories:

Category 1 (causing death or serious physical injury):

If the victim is under 15 years old:

  • Class 2 felony
  • punishable under the Dangerous Crime Against Children statute (ARS §13-705)
  • FIRST OFFENSE: 10-24 years in state prison
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 21-35 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: Life in state prison


If the victim is 15 years or older (including elder abuse)

  • Class 2 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to a year in jail, or 3-12.5 years in state prison
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 4.5-23.25 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 10.5-35 years in state prison

 

If the Child Abuse or Vulnerable Adult Abuse is deemed “reckless” (no criminal intention)

  • Class 3 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to a year in jail or 2-8.75 years in prison
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 3.5-16.25 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 7.5-25 years in state prison

 

If the Child Abuse or Vulnerable Adult case is deemed “criminally negligent”:

  • Class 4 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to one year in jail or prison of 1-3.75 years
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 2.25-7.5 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 6-15 years in state prison

 

Category 2 (not causing death or serious physical injury to the victim):

  • Class 4 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to a year in jail or prison of 1-3.75 years
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 2.25-7.5 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 6-15 years in state prison

 

If the Child Abuse or Vulnerable Adult Abuse case is deemed “reckless”:

  • Class 5 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to a year in jail or prison term of .5-2.5 years
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 1-3.75 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 3-7.5 years in state prison

 

If the Child Abuse or Vulnerable Adult Abuse is deemed “criminally negligent”:

  • Class 6 felony
  • FIRST OFFENSE: probation with no jail time up to a year in jail, or prison term of 4 months-2 years
  • SECOND OFFENSE: 0.75-2.75 years in state prison
  • THIRD OFFENSE: 2.25-5.75 years in state prison

When it comes to charges of abuse to a child or a vulnerable adult, the punishments can be extreme. The outcomes can have life-changing affects, which is why it is important to hire a law firm with years of experience in these types of criminal defense cases.

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