Arizona’s top law enforcement official wants to boost the penalty for raping a spouse, a crime that’s now on par with littering, the Arizona Republic reports. Victim advocates long have tried to change the state’s laws that make rape of a stranger a more serious crime than spousal rape. A bill to increase penalties in cases of spousal rape died in a Senate committee during the last legislative session. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard favors another push to change the law in the upcoming session.
On Tuesday, Goddard, victim advocates and others held a candlelight vigil outside the state Capitol to raise awareness of the issue as advocates recognize national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In Arizona, spousal rape is a class 6 felony, but a judge has the option of dropping that to a misdemeanor. A first-time felony offender can receive up to 18 months in prison. The same person convicted for the first time of rape of a stranger, a class 2 felony, can face up to 14 years in prison.