Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation – ARS 13-3554
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Luring a Minor Charges in Arizona
Luring a minor for sexual exploitation can be one of the most harshest penalized sex crimes in Arizona.
If you are convicted of this offense, you will face a long prison sentence followed by mandatory registration as a sex offender.
You should take your charges seriously and contact an experienced sex crimes defense attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta as soon as possible.
We can help you to understand what to expect and discuss the potential defenses that we might be able to raise to defend you.
What is Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation?
Luring a minor for sexual exploitation is found in ARS 13-3554. Under this statute, you can be charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation if you offer sex or solicit it from a minor. In most cases, this offer or solicitation occurs when an adult talks to a minor online in a chat room or by text messages.
You do not need to have explicitly talked about having sex with the minor to be charged with a crime or to have asked for a meeting. However, the police normally arrest adults when they show up to meet the alleged victim. Juries can decide whether the prosecutor has met the burden to show that you are guilty of this offense by considering the entirety of the conversation and circumstances.
Many luring charges happen following sex sting operations conducted by police departments’ sex crimes units. The police then move in to arrest the adults involved and charge them with luring.
You cannot defend against this charge by arguing that the person you spoke with is not a minor as long as you believed that he or she was when you had the conversations.
If an officer poses as a minor to talk to you, you can’t argue that the officer is older than 18 to try to get out from under your charges. The only thing that matters is your belief. This could be gleaned from the content of your text messages or chat logs when the officer tells you that he or she is a 13-year-old girl or boy. Despite the fact that you were actually talking to an adult, you can still be convicted of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
If the alleged minor is 15 to 17, luring is a Class 3 felony. If the purported minor is 14 or younger, it is still a Class 3 felony. However, it will also be charged as a dangerous crime against children under ARS 13-705 and expose you to the special sentencing guidelines for DCACs (Dangerous Crimes Against Children).
Understanding the Use of Police Sex Stings
Police sex crimes units occasionally engage in sex sting operations to try to round up people who lure minors online and try to get them to meet in public. An undercover officer will go online to internet chat rooms or common dating apps while posing as a young girl or boy. The officer will then try to engage adults to try to initiate a conversation. After an adult starts to talk to the purported minor, the messages will often become sexual.
In some cases, pictures will be sent back and forth from the adult and the purported minor. In some cases, the officers will use real pictures of minors to convince the adult that they are talking to a minor. Ultimately, a suggestion will be made to meet, and when the adult arrives, the police will take him or her into custody on luring charges.
While sting operations include suggestions of meeting, that is not a required element of the offense. Instead, it is used to allow the police to easily arrest someone who might be otherwise difficult to find.
You can be charged with separate luring counts for each message sent. The jury will then need to consider the context to determine whether the messages amount to luring.
The Significance of the Dangerous Crimes Against Children Law
Some crimes involving children are charged as dangerous crimes against children under ARS 13-705. This law is unique and establishes a special sentencing structure for people convicted of specific crimes against children. The penalties are much more severe than they would be if the offense was not deemed to be a dangerous crime against children.
For example, a Class 3 felony luring involving a child ages 15 to 17 carries less severe penalties than a Class 3 luring offense involving a child aged 14 or younger since it is also a DCAC. If you are convicted of a Dangerous Crime Against Children, you will be sent to serve a mandatory term in prison, even if it is your first felony offense.
What are the Penalties for Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation?
The penalties you will face for a conviction of luring a minor will depend on the age or purported age of the minor and your criminal history.
Luring a minor between the ages of 15 and 17 is a Class 3 felony. However, it is not a DCAC. For this offense, you will face the following potential penalties, depending on your criminal record:
- First felony – from two years up to 8.75 years in prison
- Second felony – from 3.25 years up to 25 years in prison
- Third felony – from 7.5 years up to 25 years in prison
The judge could also assess a fine of up to $150,000 for any felony offense.
If you are convicted of luring a minor who was 14 or younger at the time of the offense, the penalties as a DCAC Class 3 felony are much harsher. You will face the following penalties, depending on your criminal record:
First felony- Five to 15 years in prison
- Second felony – Eight to 22 years in prison
If you are charged and convicted of a DCAC luring offense, you will also have to serve your entire prison sentence and will not be eligible for early release on parole or community supervision. When you are released from prison, you will have to register as a sex offender, and your registration requirements will continue for the rest of your life.
Defending Against Luring a Minor Charges
Many people who are facing luring charges in Arizona wrongly believe that they cannot be convicted of the offense when the person they spoke to was not a minor.
However, the law states that you cannot defend against this charge by arguing that the purported victim was not a minor.
Instead, most defenses to this offense will center around a lack of intent to complete a sex act with the purported minor. The prosecution must prove that you lured a minor to engage in a sex act instead of for a different reason to secure a conviction. Your attorney might argue that you lacked the intent to engage in a sex act if you did not have a condom, were not carrying a large sum of money, and did not bring any gifts. Your attorney will also carefully examine the messages to see whether any plans were made for sexual acts.
When you are charged with luring, the police will often seek a search warrant to search your home and seize your phone, computer, and other electronics. One reason is to find the IP address and the passwords used when allegedly luring a minor.
They will then potentially examine the hard drive and clone it to prevent you from arguing that they added pictures, files, or applications.
The perceived reason why the police seize computers is to look for evidence to charge you with other crimes, including child pornography offenses. If the police find this type of evidence, you will be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, which is a very serious sex crime in Arizona carrying a minimum penalty of ten years in prison per image. When your defense attorney is preparing your defense, he or she will also prepare your case to defend against other potential charges that might be later filed.
Get Legal Help from Colburn Hintze Maletta
If you are charged with luring a minor, you are likely worried about your future and what might happen. Working with an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer at Colburn Hintze Maletta can help you to increase your chances of securing a better outcome.
Without the help of an experienced sex crimes attorney, you are much likelier to be convicted as charged and face severe penalties. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (602) 825-2500.
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