Posted on January 31, 2021 in Sex Crimes
The availability of technology for teenagers has given rise to new internet criminal sex acts. Whether it is via Facetime, Skype, text messages, or other forms of electronic communications, minors can find themselves in dangerous situations with other minors or adults.
Understanding Arizona’s sexting laws is important for minors and their parents.
Sexting is the term used to describe sending and receiving sexually explicit language, photographs, videos, and other content electronically to another person. Many teens engage in sexting through their smartphones. However, any electronic device that shares media could be used for sexting.
With more teens and minors having access to cell phones and other electronic devices, there is a strong chance that your child might have engaged in sexting or been exposed to sexting. Parents should discuss dangerous and risky online behavior with their children when they begin using the internet and electronic devices. They also need to set boundaries and monitor their children’s online behavior.
While sexting between minors is dangerous, your child could be communicating with an adult. Sexual predators prey on minors who are online. They manipulate them into sending nude videos and pictures.
Eventually, they may convince them to contact through FaceTime, Skype, and other live apps for online sexual encounters. Your child might believe they are talking to another child.
Arizona has a specific law related to sexting and minors. ARS §8-309 makes it illegal for a minor to knowingly and intentionally transmit or view videos or photographs of a minor that depict explicit sexual material. It is also illegal for a minor to knowingly possess sexually explicit material involving a minor.
Sexually explicit material includes videos, photographs, or images that include:
It does not matter that the material came from another minor or from the minor that is depicted in the video or photographs. Both minors could be charged with a crime. If the minor receiving the material did not solicit the material and takes reasonable steps to destroy or delete the material immediately, the minor is not guilty of sexting.
If a teen is arrested for sexting, the teenager will enter the juvenile justice system. The punishment for sexting (unlawful use of an electronic communication device by a minor) depends on the facts of the case.
The punishment is more severe if the teenager sent the images to more than one person. If the minor has prior convictions for sexting or similar sexual offenses, the punishment is also more severe.
Adults sexting with a minor between the ages of 15 to 17 can be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. The crime is a Class 2 felony.
Even if the teenager took the photos or made the video willingly and gave the adult permission to view or keep the material, it is a crime. The adult could face one or more criminal charges, including sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography.
The potential penalties for a conviction could include probation or up to one year in jail. However, the adult could also face three to 12.5 years in prison in some cases. The prison term increases if the adult has prior felony convictions.
Adults convicted of sex crimes must also register as sex offenders. Being on the sex offender register could limit your contact with any minor. It can also make it more difficult to find a place to live or find a job.
If the child is 14 years of age or under, an adult can be charged with a Dangerous Crime Against a Child for sexting with the minor. This criminal statute is used for sex crimes involving younger children. It enhances the punishments that the defendant faces.
Adults convicted of a charge under the DCAC statute face a minimum of 10 years in prison for each conviction, with a maximum of 24 years per conviction. When the adult has a prior DCAC conviction or another serious felony conviction, the prison sentence’s term can double.
Sexting with anyone, even someone that you know, could result in a criminal charge. You might believe you are sexting with an adult, but you could be sexting with a minor. Likewise, minors might believe they cannot get into trouble if the other person is a minor and the communication is consensual.
Because the penalties for sexting can be severe, it is best to seek legal counsel immediately. If you discover that your teen has been engaging in sexting, contact a criminal defense lawyer now to discuss options for protecting your teen’s legal rights and wellbeing.