Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation, What it Means

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In Arizona, luring a child for purposes of sexual exploitation is a serious offense that carries harsh penalties. If you are convicted of this offense, you might face a long prison sentence, fines, and other criminal penalties.

People who are convicted of luring minors or aggravated luring of a minor will also be required to register as sex offenders and will undergo other ongoing consequences in their daily lives. If you are facing these types of charges, you should talk to an experienced sex crimes attorney at the Law Office of Michael Alarid III.

Arizona Laws of Luring of a Minor for Sexual Exploitation

Under ARS 13-3554, you can be charged with luring a child for sexual exploitation if you offer sexual acts or solicit them from someone who you know or have reason to know is a minor.

In many cases, this offense is charged when adults engage in "sexting" with a minor or engages in sexually explicit conversations with them in chat rooms on the internet. The conversations or messages will continue until the adult asks the minor to meet in-person for sexual activities.

The police may use what is known as a "sex sting operation" and have an adult officer pose as a minor online to engage in discussions with adults. For you to be charged, you do not have to have directly discussed meeting the minor for sexual purposes, and an in-person meeting is not required as an element of the offense. However, the police will typically arrest defendants when they arrive at a pre-determined location to ostensibly meet the minor. Juries usually will consider the whole context of the conversations to determine whether luring has occurred.

The purpose of sex sting operations conducted by the sex crimes units of police departments is to identify and catch predators so that they can be prosecuted for luring.

If you are convicted of luring a minor younger than age 18, you can be sentenced to serve a minimum mandatory sentence of five years for a first offense. If you are convicted of luring a minor younger than 15 you can be charged with a dangerous crime against children.

Police Officers Posing as Minors

Under ARS 13-3554, you cannot defend against a charge of luring a child for sexual exploitation solely based on the fact that the alleged victim was not a minor. Police officers frequently pose as minors online.

If this happens, you cannot defend against the charges against you based on the fact that the undercover officer is older than age 18. The only thing that matters is whether you believed the officer was a minor during your online or text-based conversations. For example, an officer might claim to be a 13-year-old boy when talking to an adult online. While the defendant actually talks to an adult man or woman, the key factor will be whether the officer led the defendant to believe that he or she was talking to a minor.

If you are convicted of luring a child for sexual exploitation, it is a Class 3 felony. If the child is younger than age 15, it is a dangerous crime against children and punishable under ARS § 13-705.

Police Sex Sting Operations

Sex crimes units occasionally run sting operations to try to get adults who want to sext minors to engage with them online so that they can try to meet them in public.

In most cases, an undercover officer will pose as a young girl or boy online. An adult will start to talk to the alleged minor through text or over the internet. The communications will become sexual, and pictures will be sent. In some cases, the police will send pictures of minors to try to convince the adult that he or she is really speaking with a young girl or boy. The officer will eventually suggest a meeting and will provide an address or location to do so. When the adult arrives, police officers will be waiting and will place him or her under arrest for luring a child for sex.

You do not have to meet a purported minor for sex to be charged with luring a minor. You can be charged with separate counts of luring based on sending multiple texts or online messages. The jury will decide whether each message was an attempt to lure a minor for sex based on the jurors' interpretations of the entire context and the individual messages.

Dangerous Crimes Against Children

ARS § 13-705 establishes a special sentencing scheme for people who are convicted of dangerous crimes against children. A dangerous crime against children carries harsher penalties than other felony offenses at the same level.

You could be charged with luring as a dangerous crime against children if the victim or purported victim was younger than age 15. If you are convicted, you will face mandatory prison even if it is your first felony conviction. For the first offense of luring as a dangerous crime against children, you will face a minimum sentence of five years in prison. The presumptive sentence for this offense is 10 years, and the maximum sentence is 15 years.

If you have one prior predicate felony, you will face a minimum sentence of eight years up to 22 years in prison. People who are convicted of dangerous crimes against children are not eligible for early release or a suspended sentence and will have to serve the sentence ordered by the court.

Penalties for Luring Minors

Luring minors is a class 3 felony that carries severe penalties. For minors from ages 15 to 17, the offense is a class 3 felony, but it will not be deemed to be a dangerous crime against children. The penalties for this offense as a first conviction include the following:

  • Prison from three to 12.5 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Sex offender assessment and registration

For a second offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison for 4.5 to 23 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Sex offender assessment and registration

For a third conviction, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison from 10.5 up to 35 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Sex offender assessment and registration

Aggravated Luring a Minor Under ARS 13-3560

Under ARS 13-3560, you can be charged with aggravated luring a minor when you send an image or depiction that is harmful to minors, know what the content is, and simultaneously request the minor engage in sexual conduct. For example, if you send a photo of your genitals to a minor and ask him or her to engage in a sex act with you, you can be charged with aggravated luring. This is a Class 2 felony.

If the minor is ages 15 to 17, you will face from three to 12.5 years in prison for a first conviction. For a second conviction with one prior predicate felony, you will face from 4.5 years to 23 years in prison. For the third conviction with two prior predicate felonies, you will face from 10.5 to 35 years in prison.

If the victim is under the age of 15, the offense will be charged as a dangerous crime against children. A first conviction will result in a prison sentence ranging from 10 years up to 24 years. If you have one prior predicate felony, you will face a prison sentence ranging from 21 years to 35 years.

Defenses to Luring and Aggravated Luring

There are several defenses that might apply in your case, depending on the facts. Some of the potential defenses are described below.

Mistaken Belief that the Person is an Adult

While you can't defend against a luring charge based on the fact that the person was not a minor, you can raise a defense to the charge if you reasonably believed that you were talking to an adult.

For example, if the person you were talking to online or by text told you that he or she was 19 before your conversation turned explicit, you might have a defense to the charge.

Arizona Romeo and Juliet Law

If you were under age 19 or in high school and there is 24 months or less of an age difference between you and the alleged victim, you can raise the Romeo and Juliet law as a defense to a luring charge.

False Allegations of Luring a Minor

Some sex offense cases involve false accusations by the alleged victims. If you have been falsely accused of luring by an ex or his or her child, your attorney will explore this to look for evidence to raise in your defense.

False Confession to a Crime

In some cases, police use coercive interrogation tactics to try to get people to confess to crimes. If the police coerced you into confessing, your attorney would challenge the interrogation methods used and the admissibility of your statements.

No Physical Evidence

If your case is solely based on the victim's testimony or that of a witness, your attorney might challenge the lack of physical evidence and explore the victim's or witness's credibility.

Illegal Search and Seizure

The police must follow the Constitution when they engage in searches and seizures. If the police violated the search and seizure protocols, your attorney might win the suppression of any evidence that was gathered as a result.

Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney
The Law Office of Michael Alarid III PLLC

Get Help from the Law Office of Michael Alarid III

Being charged with luring a minor or aggravated luring is serious. If you are facing these types of charges, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Attorney Michael Alarid III has successfully defended many people who have been charged with serious crimes, including luring a minor and other felony sex offenses. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling (602) 818-3110.

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