Sexual Exploitation of a Minor / Child Porn Charges in Arizona

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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Sexual exploitation of a minor, or more commonly referred to as "child porn," is an incredibly serious criminal offense in Arizona. If you are convicted of this crime, you will face a mandatory prison sentence and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, along with other penalties.

People who are convicted of sex offenses also face ongoing consequences that can continue to impact them for life. You might struggle to find housing and employment and be stigmatized by others in the community.

If you are facing this type of charge, you should get help from a sex crimes lawyer at The Law Office of Michael Alarid III as soon as possible.

The Legal Definition of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Under ARS 13-3553, you can be charged with sexually exploiting a minor if you record, film, photograph, develop, duplicate, transport, possess, sell, receive, exhibit, transmit, or exchange any depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct or sexual exhibition. This is a severe offense in Arizona and is a Class 2 felony.

If the victim is younger than 15, it is considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children. You can receive a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for each count if the offense is a dangerous crime against children, and a separate count can be charged for each picture or video involved. The sentences for each count charged can be ordered to be stacked consecutively, meaning that you could face spending up to the rest of your life in prison if you are convicted of multiple counts.

The definition of sexually exploiting a minor includes everything from simple possession to producing and selling child pornography. There is no distinction between these different actions, and you can face the same sentence for possessing child pornography as you could for producing it.

In Arizona, the most common type of this offense involves possessing sexually explicit images of a minor or minors. While everyone younger than age 18 is considered a minor, if the person is under 15 you can face the penalties for a Dangerous Crime Against Children under ARS § 13-705.

What does Dangerous Crimes Against Children Mean?

A dangerous crime against children means a serious offense listed in ARS § 13-705 was committed against a child who is under 15. ARS § 13-705 provides harsh mandatory minimum sentences when adults ages 18 and older are convicted of sexually exploiting a minor. When the offense is a dangerous crime against children, they face even harsher penalties than other felony offenses that are not designated as dangerous crimes against children. Several different types of offenses are also defined as dangerous crimes against children, including sexual assault, child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor, sexual abuse and others.

If you are convicted of any type of dangerous crime against children, you will face a mandatory minimum term in prison, even if it is your first offense.

Penalties for Sexually Exploiting a Minor

Sexually exploiting a minor is a Class 2 felony in Arizona. With the ability of the prosecutor to charge separate counts for each picture or video in your possession, a conviction could effectively result in a life sentence.

If the victim shown in the images is from 15 to 17 years old, a conviction is a Class 2 felony. However, it will not be charged as a dangerous crime against children. If you are convicted of this offense as a first felony conviction, you will face a sentence ranging from three to 12.5 years in prison under ARS § 13-702 with a presumptive sentence of five years.

If you are convicted of sexually exploiting a minor as a second felony offense, you will face a sentence ranging from 4.5 to 23 years in prison under ARS § 13-703. If it is your third felony conviction, you can face from 10.5 to 35 years in prison.

In most cases, however, child pornography and exploitation charges involve depictions of children younger than 15 and are charged as a dangerous crime against children. If you are convicted of a dangerous crime against children for sexually exploiting a minor, you will face a prison sentence of 10 to 24 years in prison for each image.

For example, if you are convicted of 10 counts, you could face a minimum mandatory sentence totaling 100 years since the counts must be stacked or ordered to be served consecutively.

Arizona Sex Offender Registration

If you are convicted of sexually exploiting a minor, you will be required to register as a sex offender under ARS § 13-3821. You will have to complete a sex offender assessment and register for life.

Registering as a sex offender means that your photo, address, offense, and other information will be published on a publicly accessible website, and you may have to contend with other restrictions as well.

If you fail to comply with your sex offender registration requirements, you can be charged with a new felony offense and face a new prison sentence .

Effective Defenses to Child Pornography and Exploitation Charges

Identifying the defenses that you should raise in your case is critical. Your attorney will carefully analyze the facts and evidence to determine the best defense strategy to implement. You might have a number of defenses that might be raised in your case, but the most appropriate defenses will depend on the facts.

One of the most common defenses to a charge of sexually exploiting a child is that you did not knowingly receive, possess, or do any of the other things listed in the statute. For example, if someone else had access to your computer and downloaded child pornography, your attorney might present evidence that others had access to your computer and frequently used it. This would make it harder for the prosecutor to prove that you downloaded the images instead of someone else.

To raise this defense, your attorney will likely need to present evidence that contradicts the evidence the prosecutor presents. In most cases, the police will execute a search warrant and confiscate all computers located in the house. They then look for the passwords and IP addresses used to trace the actions to a particular user, date, and time. The police clone hard drives before they search them to prevent accusations of tampering.

Your criminal defense lawyer might also argue that you inadvertently accessed the images and did not knowingly engage in an exchange. If you reported that you received unsolicited pornographic images on your computer within three days, it is an affirmative defense to a charge of sexually exploiting a minor.

If the person depicted in the images was not a minor, your attorney could raise a defense to child pornography and exploitation charges. You could not be convicted of this offense if the person in the images was 18 or older, even if he or she was dressed in such a way to appear younger.

Your defense attorney will also look at the tools used by the police to track child pornography to your computer. If the tools used were faulty and tracked pornography to the wrong computer or led the police to conduct an invalid search, your attorney might challenge the evidence used against you.

Some cases involve virtual pornography using digital images that do not depict real people. Your attorney will carefully analyze the origin of the images to determine whether they might be virtual instead of actual depictions. If they do not show a real person, you cannot be convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor for possessing or otherwise using the images.

Finally, if the police seized the evidence after conducting an illegal search, your attorney can file motions to challenge the admissibility of the images in the case against you. For example, if the police stopped your vehicle without reasonable suspicion and then conducted a warrantless search, your attorney might win suppression of the evidence and the charges against you.

How Sex Crimes Lawyer Michael Alarid III Can Help

Michael Alarid III, Esq. is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has successfully defended against many criminal allegations filed against his clients, including sex crimes. He understands the stakes involved for people who are charged with serious sex offenses and how to defend against these types of charges.

The Law Office of Michael Alarid III carefully evaluates the evidence in every criminal case to identify defenses and problems with the state's case. This helps to provide a strong foundation for building our clients' defense cases. We work with experts and investigators to help us understand everything that happened and to uncover evidence that can help us to challenge the prosecution's arguments in court.

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

Talk to The Law Office of Michael Alarid III

If you are facing child pornography and exploitation charges under ARS 13-3553, you should take your situation seriously. A conviction could result in decades in prison, sexual offender registration, and ongoing consequences that could permanently alter your life.

Michael Alarid III is an experienced sex crimes lawyer in Phoenix  who believes that everyone deserves to present a strong defense when they are facing criminal charges. We begin investigating our clients' cases as soon as we are retained so that we can build the strongest possible defenses to the charges against them.

Contact our firm today to request a consultation by calling (602) 818-3110.

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