When Is Sexting Illegal In Arizona?
Arizona Sexting Laws: Is “Sexting” a Punishable Sex Crime?
This can be a fun and sneaky way for couples who are far apart to keep the spark alive. But if you have teenage children, the last thing you probably want is them sending and receiving naked pictures to and from their classmates- or even worse, adults. In some situations, sexting in Arizona is a crime that can have serious consequences for anyone convicted. Read on to learn more about sexting laws in Arizona. If you have any questions about charges stemming from sexting issues, call 480-833-8000 for your free consultation with one of our Arizona experienced attorneys.
What Is Sexting?
Maybe you’ve had limited access to media for more than a decade, but “sexting” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2007. They define it as “the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cellphone.” In Arizona, messages sent in chat rooms, instant messengers, email, and social media can all count as sexting too. While sending unsolicited sexts at any age is gross and damaging, most of the sexting laws in Arizona are focused on protecting children. They are set forth by Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-309.
Arizona Sexting Laws
In Arizona, it is illegal for a juvenile to possess, transmit, or display explicit material of a minor on an electronic device. The only exception is if the explicit material was unsolicited, and the juvenile took reasonable steps to destroy, eliminate, or report the explicit material. Transmitting or displaying the explicit material to more than one other person is a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona. Possessing it is a petty offense. Multiple violations will increase the charges to a class 2 misdemeanor.
For the purposes of this statute, explicit material depicts nudity, sexual activity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse of a minor. It must be a visual depiction, so words alone don’t count.
What Are The Penalties If a Teenager Is Caught Sexting?
As mentioned above, a juvenile caught possessing explicit material of a minor will be charged with a petty offense. A juvenile caught transmitting or displaying explicit material to more than one person will be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor. And if someone has already been convicted of this charge, or completed a diversion program for it, and are caught again, they will be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties for these are quite different. For the petty offense charge, the minimum fine is $300. For the class 3 misdemeanor, the penalty can be a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail. The class 2 misdemeanor carries a possible fine of $750 and up to 4 months in jail. Clearly, the consequences for teenage sexting are serious. If your child has received explicit material from another minor, they need to delete it or report it to the authorities as soon as possible.
Sexting With a Minor At Age 18 Or Older
Even though most 18 year olds aren’t very mature, they are still legally considered adults. And the problem becomes much larger when it is an adult caught with explicit material of a minor on an electronic device versus a juvenile. Some of the possible charges include online solicitation of a minor, child pornography, and sexual exploitation of a minor. As an adult, if you are caught sexting with a minor between 15 and 17, you will be charged with a Class 2 felony. If you are caught with explicit material of a minor 14 or younger, it will be classified as a Dangerous Crime Against a Child (DCAC). This classification will come with harsher penalties.
There is a wide array of penalties for a class 2 felony. You may receive probation, or anywhere from 1-12.5 years in prison. This will depend on the severity of your crime and other factors in your case. If you have prior felony convictions, the penalty ranges will sharply increase. If convicted, you could serve anywhere from 3-23.5 years in prison. If you have two prior felony convictions, you could serve 10.5-35 years. Having two or more previous felonies eliminates the possibility of receiving a parole sentence. You will also need to register as a sex offender.
All of the penalty information above is assuming the victim is 15-17 years of age. The prison sentences are even longer if your conviction is classified as a DCAC due to the victim being 14 years or younger. The presumptive sentence for a first conviction here is 17 years but could be anywhere from 10-24 years. These are the kinds of penalties that will make every aspect of life harder for you as long as you live. Whether this is your first potential felony or third, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney to begin planning your defense as soon as possible.
Can An Attorney Help Me With Criminal Charges Stemming From Sexting?
Going to prison on a child sex offender charge could be worse than a death sentence for some. You might be able to negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges that don’t carry the same weight. Some of these include contributing to the delinquency of a minor and using a phone to threaten or intimidate. Even if these charges still result in time behind bars, it won’t come with the same stigma as being labeled a sex offender. It also won’t look as bad on your record after you have served your time.
You might also be reading this article because your teenager is facing legal issues due to sexting. While the consequences for this are far less severe, you probably don’t want your child starting life out with a misdemeanor, either. Even a petty offense could limit opportunities and permanently delay their success in life. Defend yourself and your loved ones from the negative impact that sexting charges can bring. Our experienced Arizona criminal defense team will help you do so at a reasonable price. Call 480-833-8000 or use our online form to set up your free consultation today.
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