Dangerous Crime Against Children When No Child Is Involved

A.R.S. section 13-604.01 statute increases the penalties for specified offenses when a defendant's conduct is "focused on, directed against, aimed at, or targets a victim under the age of fifteen." State v. Williams, 175 Ariz. 98, 103, 854 P.2d 131, 136 (1993). In Williams, our supreme court held that drunk driving, which involves a reckless, unfocused state of mind, would not qualify as a dangerous crime against children even when a minor under the age of fifteen is injured by the criminal conduct. See id. at 104, 854 P.2d at 137. The absence of an actual victim under the age of fifteen does not preclude an attempted crime from being a dangerous crime against children. the legislature specifically classified preparatory offenses such as attempt, other than attempted first degree murder, as dangerous crimes against children in the second degree provided the completed offense would have been a dangerous crime against children in the first degree. See A.R.S. 13-604.01(L)(1). That a dangerous crime against children could not have been completed because no child under the age of fifteen was actually involved is of no consequence; it is well-settled in Arizona that factual impossibility is not a defense to attempt. See State v. McElroy, 128 Ariz. 315, 317, 625 P.2d 904, 906 (1981). All that is required to commit an attempted dangerous crime against children is for the perpetrator to believe that the intended victim is a minor under fifteen years of age, and then to take any step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in one of the crimes enumerated in the statute. See A.R.S. 13-1001(A)(2); 13-604.01(L)(1).