If you or someone you know is facing charges for Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation, or have questions about how an experienced attorney can help balance the odds back into your favor, contact Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Burges McCowan for a free consultation.
In Arizona, anything considered a Sex Crime is subject to some of the harshest penalties in the nation. These charges can have a catastrophic, lasting effect on your life. Far reaching consequences, such as forced registry as a Sex Offender, can drastically change the rest of your life. Having a qualified attorney in your corner throughout the process will ensure your rights are protected.
While there are several statutes dealing with Sex Crimes in Arizona, this blog post will focus on ARS 13-3554, Luring a Minor for Sex. You can read more about Sex Crimes on my website, where I go into detail about several statutes.
What is Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation?
Arizona defines Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation in ARS 13-3554 as offering or soliciting a sexual encounter with a minor. Generally, though not always, this happens on the internet.
Police Sting Operations
Many times, arrests for Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation come as the result of a police sting operation. Though the details often vary, the set up is something like this: a police officer, posing as a child under the age of 15, will turn up in an online chat room or site. The undercover officer will engage the accused in a conversation which will turn to a sexual nature. Then, pictures will usually be exchanged (with the officer using a photograph of a minor), and a meeting will be arranged. When the accused shows up for the meeting, he or she is greeted by arresting police officers, just like in that show "To Catch a Predator."
What if there is no actual child involvement?
In short, it is not a defense. The crime occurs as soon as the offer or solicitation is made. If the online persona purports to be a minor, then offering a sexual encounter is against Arizona law. The fact that it is really an adult posing as a child is not a defense. The only thing that matters is how old the online person claims to be. If the person claims to be a minor, that is under 18 years old, then offering sex to that person is illegal. ARS 13-3554(B) or ARS 13-3560(B).
What is the punishment for Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation?
That depends on the age of the online persona (remember it does not matter if the person actually doing the online chatting is an adult). If the online persona is 15, 16, or 17 years old, then the crime is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 8.75 years in prison (but probation is possible). However, the crime usually involves a purported child under the age of 15, in which case it is considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC). This is as bad as it sounds and carries a penalty of 5 to 15 years imprisonment for a first offense. Probation is possible, but registration as a sex offender is mandatory. ARS 13-3821.
What about Aggravated Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation?
As bad as the punishment for Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation is, getting convicted of Aggravated Luring is much worse. If the online persona solicited is under 15 years old, probation is not available and the prison sentence is a minimum of 10 years, but can be as high as 24. If the minor is 15, 16, or 17 years old then probation is possible but prison up to 12.5 years is also possible. Of course, registration as a sex offender is also mandatory.
Aggravated Luring of a Minor for Sexual Exploitation occurs if in addition to soliciting a sexual encounter, a sexually explicit photo or video is shared with the online persona, also, known as "sexting" or "d*^k pics". If these types of images are shared with the online persona of someone purporting to be a minor and that person is also solicited for a sexual encounter, it is Aggravated Luring of a Minor for Sexual Exploitation. ARS 13-3560.
If my son or daughter is engaging in sexting is it a crime under Arizona laws?
Possibly. It depends on the ages. If one person engaging in the sexting is under 18 years old, it could be Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation. However, there is a valid defense as long as neither child is under 15 years old, the older child is under 19 years old, or both children are within 2 years of each other and still in high school. The sexting also has to be consensual. ARS 13-1407(F).
What should you do if you are charged with Luring a Minor for Sex?
Never talk to the police about charges you are facing! Exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be twisted to incriminate you. Instead, politely but firmly tell the officers you are invoking your right to remain silent and ask to speak to your attorney. This will end any interrogation, and will ensure you have someone on your side during the legal process. Under Arizona law, your voice can be recorded without your permission, and can be admitted as evidence against you. The best course is to not talk at all, to the police or to your accuser (or his or her family). When it comes to the details of your charges, only speak with your attorney.
Sex Crime charges are extremely serious, but you don't have to go through it on your own. Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Burges McCowan, a former prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney Office's Sex Crimes Unit, can help. In addition to years of experience, Burges has the technical expertise to tackle cases involving computer forensics. Contact him today for a free consultation