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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor / Child Porn Charges

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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Arizona

Facing child porn charges in Arizona is a sentence that can very well be referred to as a “life-ender” and should be taken extremely seriously. The legal term for this offense is called sexual exploitation of a minor, and a conviction of possession of child pornography could result in years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. This type of charge should be taken seriously.

Getting immediate help from an experienced sex crimes attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta might allow you to avoid some of the more serious consequences of this offense or win an outright dismissal of the case against you. If you try to defend against these charges without the help of a skilled lawyer, you are likely to be convicted of this crime and face a lengthy prison sentence and ongoing consequences for the rest of your life.

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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor & Child Porn Charges

Defining Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

In Arizona, sexual exploitation of a minor is defined in ARS 13-3553. Under this law, you can be charged with child porn if you photograph, film, record, duplicate, transmit, receive, possess, sell, or exhibit any explicit photo or video of a minor engaged in sex acts or a sexual exhibition. This offense is a class 2 felony.

If the minor depicted is younger than age 15, it is charged as a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DACA) and is subject to the special sentencing rules under ARS 13-705.

A minor includes anyone who is younger than age 18 at the time the video or photo was created. The statute is broad and covers a broad range of conduct. The images can also depict many different types of qualifying scenes and can include actual or simulated acts when the intended purpose is for the viewer’s sexual stimulation.

Penalties for Charges of Child Pornography

Child porn convictions carry severe penalties that depend on several factors, including your criminal record, the number of images involved, and the victim’s age. For a first conviction involving a minor age 15 to 17, you will face the following potential penalties:

  • Prison sentence of three years mitigated, four years minimum, five years presumptive, 10 years maximum, or 12.5 years aggravated
  • Potential fine of up to $150,000 plus a surcharge of an additional 84%
  • Lifetime sex offender registration
  • Up to lifetime probation and sex offender counseling with up to one year in jail

If you are convicted of child porn involving a victim aged 15 to 17 when you have a predicate felony conviction in your past, you can face the following enhanced penalties:

  • Prison from four-and-one-half years up to 23 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Surcharge of an additional 84% on top of any fines imposed
  • Lifetime sex offender registration

If you are convicted of child porn involving a victim aged 15 to 17 with two prior predicate convictions, you will face the following enhanced penalties:

  • Prison sentence from 10.5 years to 35 years
  • Fine up to $150,000
  • Surcharge of 84% on top of any fines
  • Lifetime sex offender registration

For victims who are younger than age 15, a conviction is a dangerous crime against children carrying more severe penalties. If you are convicted of a first offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison sentence from 10 to 24 years
  • Fine up to $150,000
  • Lifetime sex offender registration
  • Additional 84% surcharge on top of any fines

For a second conviction involving a child younger than 15, the following penalties will apply:

  • Prison from 21 to 35 years
  • Fine up to $150,000
  • Additional 84% surcharge on top of any fines
  • Lifetime sex offender registration

People who are convicted of dangerous crimes against children are also required to serve their entire prison sentences before they can be released from prison.

If you are convicted of multiple counts, the sentences per count must be served consecutively.

For example, if you are convicted for five images as a first offense involving a child under the age of 15, the court could sentence you to prison for up to 120 years, or 24 years per count times five. Since you also are required to serve your entire sentence before you can be released, this means that you could spend the rest of your life in prison.

Prosecutors in Arizona will often charge people with ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, even if they allege to have found hundreds or thousands of images. If you are convicted of those ten counts, the minimum amount of prison time a judge could sentence you to would be 100 years.

People who are convicted of DCAC child porn offenses are also required to register as sex offenders for life. This will include restrictions on where you can live, and you will be prohibited from having any contact with people under the age of 18.

If you have children, this prohibition includes contact with them as well. To be able to see your children or grandchildren, you will have to receive permission from your sex offender probation officer after undergoing several tests.

Collateral Consequences for a Child Porn Conviction

A conviction for child porn charges can have a lifelong impact long after you have been released from prison. This type of offense involves collateral consequences that are more severe than other types of felony crimes. Licensed professionals will lose their licenses and careers.

No matter what your educational background might be, finding a job can be nearly impossible when you have a conviction for child porn on your record.

Most employers conduct pre-employment background checks, and those that do will see your conviction and will not be likely to hire you.

When you register as a sex offender, your photo, address, offense, name, identifying marks, and other information will be published on the state’s sex offender registry. This is viewable by anyone. Your neighbors and the general public will know that you are a sex offender. You can face ongoing humiliation and stigma. The relationships you previously enjoyed with your family members and friends may also be irretrievably broken.

Finding housing will also be difficult. Landlords generally conduct background checks, and many will not lease apartments or houses to people with felony convictions. This is even more true for people who have felony sex offense convictions on their records.

Defense Strategies for Charges of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

If you are charged after being found with explicit pictures of a minor, your attorney will carefully review all of the reports and evidence in your case to identify the best defense strategies to take. Some of the potential defenses that might be raised include the following:

  • Your possession of child porn was unintentional or unknowing.
  • Your access to the child porn images was accidental.
  • The person depicted was not a minor.
  • The evidence was gathered after an illegal search and seizure.
  • The police entrapped you.
  • You made incriminating statements after your Miranda rights were violated.
  • You made incriminating statements after the police denied your request for an attorney.

If you unintentionally and unknowingly possess child pornography, you could have a defense to the charges.

For example, if the porn that was discovered does not belong to you, you could have a defense. Many people share computers.

If someone else had access to your computer and accessed illegal images from the internet while using it, you could be charged with child porn when you were unaware the images were on your computer’s hard drive. Someone who has access to your computer, including an estranged spouse or ex-lover, coworker, or an angry employee, might download child porn to try to frame you for a criminal charge and might then call the police to report the images.

If you purchased a pre-owned computer or phone, it is also possible that the previous owner may have downloaded child pornography.

Your attorney may get the help of an expert to review the data and see the download dates, as well as take steps to determine who else had access to your computer and when they might have accessed it.

Another defense to child porn charges is that your access to the images was accidental. This can happen when your computer is infected by malware without your knowledge or when you accidentally come across illegal images online without the knowledge or intent to find them. A person may accidentally download child porn if they download large quantities of files, often through peer-to-peer torrent downloads. You may have a defense if you unintentionally downloaded child porn without any knowledge of the contents of the downloaded files.

If you learn that the person depicted in the images was not a minor at the time of the photo or video, it is a valid defense to a child porn charge. One of the elements of the offense is that the person depicted is a minor. If the person in the videos or photos you possessed was actually 18 or older, you cannot be convicted of a child pornography offense.

Other Defenses when Your Constitutional Rights were Violated

In some cases, police use illegal tactics to search the property of suspects and seize evidence. Your attorney may review the procedures used to identify any constitutional violations.

If your attorney determines that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights, he or she may file an evidentiary motion asking for the evidence seized as a result of the search to be suppressed.

Entrapment is a less common defense but is available in some cases. Entrapment occurs when the police induce someone to commit a crime who would not otherwise have committed it.

For example, you might be induced by undercover officers online to purchase content that was not clearly identified as child porn and then be arrested for purchasing the content. This scenario might happen when police run child porn sting operations and arrest as many people as possible.

You also have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney to represent you. When the police subject you to custodial interrogation, they must first read you your Miranda rights. If you were not properly Mirandized, any incriminating statements you made could be thrown out.

Similarly, if you asked for an attorney but were denied, anything that you said to the police after you invoked your right to counsel could be deemed inadmissible.

Get Immediate Legal Help from Colburn Hintze Maletta

If you face charges of sexually exploiting a child after being caught with pictures of a minor, you should reach out to the law firm of Colburn Hintze Maletta.

We can review your case to begin mounting an aggressive defense and help you to understand your options. Call us today at (602) 825-2500 for a completely confidential and secure consultation.

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