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Sexual Exploitation of a Minor / Child Pornography – ARS §13-3553

In Arizona, possession of child pornography is called sexual exploitation of a minor. If you are charged with this crime, you might spend years in prison and be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. A sexual exploitation of a minor charge should be treated seriously. Read this entire article to learn about the Arizona laws, severe punishments and effective defenses to these serious charges.

To start, watch this video of Sex Crimes Specialist, David Cantor, explain what does sexual exploitation of a minor really mean:

Getting help from an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer might help you to secure a plea to a lesser offense or to win the dismissal of your charges. Without the help of an attorney, you are likely to be convicted and to face lifelong consequences for this offense.
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What is Sexual Exploitation of a Minor?

Under A.R.S. § 13-3553, Sexual exploitation of a child occurs when a person records, films, photographs or duplicates any visual depiction of a minor engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct. It can also occur when someone distributes, transmits, possesses or exchanges any visual depiction of a minor engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct.

Under this statute, a “minor” is considered any person who was under the age of 18 years old at the time the depiction was created or modified. If you are accused of this offense, you will be charged with a Class 2 felony.

This statute is very broad, and it covers a range of conduct that can be potentially innocent. The statute is so broad that clicking on the wrong link on the internet or sending sexually explicit text messages can cause you to be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor.

The images covered under this statute can depict a number of scenes that qualify. The exploitative exhibition or sexual conduct can be actual or simulated. However, the purpose must be for sexual stimulation of the viewer.


Severe Punishments for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

The penalties for a conviction of sexual exploitation of a minor are harsh. They will depend on the age of the victim and your criminal record. If you are charged with a first offense of sexual exploitation of a child who is 15 or older, you will face the following potential penalties:

  • A mitigated prison sentence of 3 years
  • A minimum prison sentence of 4 years
  • A presumptive prison sentence of 5 years
  • A maximum prison sentence of 10 years
  • An aggravated prison sentence of 12.5 years
  • An additional surcharge of 84% on any imposed fines
  • Probation (possibly for lifetime) and counseling with zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail

 

If you have one prior felony conviction that can be alleged and are convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor who is from 15 to 17 years old, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison ranging from 4.5 years up to 23.25 years
  • A fine of up to $150,000
  • An additional surcharge of 84% on any imposed fines

 

If you have two prior felony convictions and are convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor who is 15 to 17 years old, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison ranging from 10.5 years up to 35 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • An additional surcharge of 84% on any imposed fines

 

If the victim in your case is under the age of 15 years old, the penalties for sexual exploitation of a minor are more severe because it is punished as a “dangerous crime against children”, or DACA as also known. A first offense will result in the following penalties:

  • A minimum prison sentence of 10 years
  • A presumptive prison sentence of 17 years
  • A maximum prison sentence of 24 years
  • An additional surcharge of 84% on any imposed fines

 

If you have a prior predicate felony conviction and are convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor who is under the age of 15 years old, you will face the following potential penalties:

  • A minimum prison sentence of 21 years
  • A presumptive prison sentence of 28 years
  • A maximum prison sentence of 35 years
  • An additional surcharge of 84% on any imposed fines

 

If you are convicted of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, the sentence for each count must be run consecutively. This means that the minimum, presumptive, and maximum sentences will all be effectively doubled. Since sexual exploitation of a minor who is younger than age 15 is a DCAC, you will have to serve 100% of your prison sentence before you will be released. Because of this, these types of convictions are colloquially known as “life-enders.” In Arizona, if you receive the maximum sentence for a sexual exploitation of a minor charge, you will serve more time in prison than someone who receives the maximum sentence for second-degree murder.

You will also be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life with this type of conviction. You will be prohibited from having any contact with a minor under age 18, including your own children. To have contact with your minor children or grandchildren, you will first have to undergo multiple tests and receive your probation officer’s consent.


Consequences After Time Served

Having any type of criminal conviction on your record can cause collateral consequences that can impact you even after you have completed your sentence. When you have a conviction for felony sexual exploitation of a minor on your record, the collateral consequences are even more severe. People who work in professions that require professional licenses, including doctors, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and others will likely have their licenses revoked. This means that you will lose your career.

Even if you are not a licensed professional, finding a job with this type of conviction on your record can be very difficult. Any employer who requires a pre-employment criminal background check will see this conviction and will be unlikely to hire you.

Having to register as a sex offender means that your identity and address will be published on the sex offender registry. This will alert your neighbors and the general public that you are a convicted sex offender and can cause you to experience lasting stigma and humiliation. This type of conviction can also cause harm to the relationships that you have with your family members, your friends, and your significant other.

Finally, you might also have trouble finding an apartment since many landlords conduct criminal background checks and are hesitant to lease their properties to people who have felony convictions. Most landlords are even more hesitant to rent apartments to convicted sex offenders.


Common Tactics by Defense Attorneys

When you meet with your lawyer, he or she will review the evidence in your case to determine the defenses that might be available to you. Some of the defenses that are commonly raised include the following:

  • You did not knowingly possess child pornography;
  • You are not the person who possessed child pornography;
  • Your Miranda rights were violated; and
  • Your right to counsel was denied.

A key defense to a charge of sexual exploitation of a minor is that the defendant did not knowingly receive, possess, or do anything else with the images. If the defendant lives in a home with several other people, it is possible to present evidence that any person in the home could have accessed the images on a shared computer. If you can show that multiple people used the computer, and you did not use it very often, the prosecutor may have a difficult time proving that you are the person that accessed the images instead of someone else. This defense is especially effective if you do not have any prior sex crime convictions.

To raise this defense, your attorney will present evidence that contradicts the evidence that is presented by the prosecutor. In most cases, the state executes a search warrant and seizes the computer. The state then searches for the IP address and the passwords that were used to identify the date, time, and user. Before the police detectives do this, the officers first clone your hard drive to prevent you from arguing that they added images to your computer.

Another defense is that you inadvertently came across the images and did not complete a knowing exchange. If you report that you have received unsolicited pornographic images of children within three days of discovering them, it is an affirmative defense to charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.

The sex crimes defense lawyers at DM Cantor attend seminars that are conducted by the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center to keep current with the latest defense strategies to all types of child abuse, including sexual exploitation of a minor. We also have a large library of research materials about challenging sex crimes allegations.

Our attorneys look at each of our clients’ cases from every angle and assert a broad range of challenges to constitutional violations and defenses. The constitutional violations that might apply in your case will depend on how the police investigated your case.

One constitutional challenge that can sometimes be raised occurs when your Miranda rights have been violated by the police. Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you have the right against self-incrimination. Arizona follows a voluntariness standard when courts evaluate whether an incriminating statement is admissible. If your attorney can prove that the detectives intimidated or coerced you into making a false confession or making an inculpatory statement, he or she may be able to convince the court to suppress it. If the police did not advise you of your rights before engaging in a custodial interrogation of you, your lawyer might also be able to win the suppression of any incriminating statements you subsequently made as well as any additional evidence that the police recovered as a result of what you said.

Another common constitutional violation that sometimes happens occurs when a detective denies your right to counsel. The Fifth Amendment provides that you have a right to an attorney when you are charged with a crime that could result in the loss of your freedom. If you ask for a lawyer, the police are supposed to end their questioning of you immediately. Sometimes, police will continue to question suspects even after they have asked for an attorney. When this occurs, any statements that you subsequently made can be suppressed.

We might also review the affidavit that the police submitted to the judge to secure the search warrant or challenge the validity of the warrant itself. Your lawyer might also review the evidence to identify forensic errors that might have been made in your case. For example, we might look for issues with the procedures that were used to clone your hard drive and to analyze your computer.

Finally, your lawyer will review the police reports to search for misleading statements and false statements. Identifying false and misleading statements can help your attorney when he or she has to cross-examine the officer who wrote the report because it can help to demonstrate to the jury that the officer has credibility problems.

If you are convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor, you will face consequences for the rest of your life. This makes it important for you to retain a highly experienced and skilled sex crimes attorney to defend you against your charges.


Get Help from the Sex Crimes Lawyers at DM Cantor

The attorneys at DM Cantor have substantial experience defending people who have been accused of all types of sex crimes in Arizona, including sexual exploitation of a minor. The firm is AV® rated, and David M. Cantor is a certified criminal law specialist how has been named as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association. We have secured numerous victories for our clients who have been charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 602-307-0808.

What is Your Freedom Worth To You? You stand little chance against prosecution without a top-notch Criminal Defense Law Firm acting in your defense who is experienced in defending allegations of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor or Child Pornography. DM Cantor is AV® rated and is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, Criminal Law Section. David M. Cantor is an Expert Criminal Defense Lawyer who has been listed as a Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer by the American Society of Legal Advocates, Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the only Arizona Lawyer listed in the 2007 Southwest Super Lawyers® Publication for Criminal Defense.

For more information about charges of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor or Child Pornography, please refer to our parent site for DM Cantor.


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