Online Solicitation of a Minor Defense Attorney
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Online Solicitation of a Minor
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Criminal charges for any sex crime involving a minor are always serious. Not only are these extremely serious crimes in Arizona, but they are also often federal offenses. State and federal prosecutors harshly and aggressively prosecute those charged with these types of crimes, and penalties often involve long periods of imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
One of the many sex crimes that receives harsh punishment is online solicitation of a minor in Arizona, a subset of child pornography. This charge would be on the table if a person commits unlawful communications with a minor over any electronic device. The seriousness of the charges calls for a Phoenix criminal defense attorney experienced in defending clients against this and other sex crimes. The legal team at Belén Law Firm is second to none in building a successful defense and protecting clients’ futures. Contact our Phoenix criminal defense team today for a free case review and to establish your attorney-client relationship.
Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Arizona
Arizona law (A.R.S. § 13-3553) defines sexual exploitation of a minor as a person knowingly filming, recording, photographing, or duplicating any depiction of a minor participating in sexual acts. Distributing and transmitting sexually explicit material is also covered under the law. This crime is a Class 2 felony and carries enhanced penalties if the minor is younger than 15 years old.
The state’s sexual exploitation laws are a subset of Arizona child pornography laws. They also cover the online solicitation of a minor. These laws are some of the toughest in the United States.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Soliciting a minor through electronic communication is a felony, and conviction carries extensive prison time and mandatory sex offender registration. Arrests typically result from undercover police officers posing as minors in online sting operations.
Online solicitation of a minor in Arizona includes “luring a minor for sexual exploitation.” The crime doesn’t have to involve pornography; simply requesting explicit images or sexting in Arizona is unlawful.
For example, if a defendant chats online with someone they know or think is a minor and offers or solicits sexual conduct with that individual, then “luring a minor” or online solicitation charges may apply. In Arizona, sexual intercourse and oral sexual contact are considered sexual conduct.
The state also classifies asking for images as a third-degree felony, even if no sexually explicit content is made or shared.
Arizona Aggravated Online Solicitation of a Minor
An online solicitation charge becomes more severe or aggravated when a defendant does the following:
- Knowingly sending at least one explicit image of content the state considers harmful to minors. The image is transmitted with an electronic communication device to someone they believe or know is younger than 18 years old to start communicating with that minor.
- Using that communication to solicit or offer sexual conduct with a minor. The solicitation or offer may happen simultaneously, before, or after sending the explicit image.
Aggravated online solicitation of a minor is a Class 2 felony in Arizona.
What Content is Considered Harmful to Minors in Arizona?
Aggravated online solicitation of a minor occurs when someone distributes sexually explicit material considered “harmful to minors.” Arizona defines harmful content as representations or descriptions of sexual activity or conduct, sexual excitement, nudity, or sadomasochistic abuse under A.R.S. 13-3506.
Arizona Solicitation of a Minor Penalties
In Arizona, the crime of solicitation of a minor is a serious offense classified as a Class 3 felony. The penalties range from two to eight years imprisonment for a first-time infraction as well as significant court fees and fines.
As previously mentioned, the charge becomes a second-degree felony when aggravated, and the penalties for a first-time offense are much harsher. A person convicted of this offense faces five to twelve years behind bars. The potential time in prison also steeply increases if the defendant has prior felony convictions.
Dangerous Crimes Against Children in Arizona
Online solicitation also becomes more severe if the minor is younger than 15. At this point, it is classified as “Dangerous Crimes Against Children” (DCAC). A felony conviction for this type of crime carries a lengthy prison sentence of anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Repeat offenders may face anywhere between 8 to 22 years in prison.
Arizona’s DCAC law requires prisoners to serve their full sentence before they are eligible for release. Sentences for multiple counts must be served consecutively (one after another) instead of concurrently (at the same time). For example, a defendant must serve 30 years in prison if they receive a 15-year sentence for two counts of soliciting a minor online. A convicted defendant must also register as a sex offender for life.
Sex Offender Registration for Online Solicitation
Registering as a sex offender will make life increasingly difficult. For example, it may be hard to find employment and housing. A social stigma also accompanies the sex offender label that may impact friendships and romantic relationships.
Arizona has significant penalties for failing to register as a sex offender. They include:
- 9 months to 2.75 years in state prison if you have a prior conviction
- 2.25 years to 5.75 years in prison if you have two prior convictions
- Class 4 felony charges for all other violations
Those who must register as sex offenders will find that this record has a stigma that will trickle down to essentially every aspect of their life. That is why it is so important that you retain a Phoenix sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible after being charged with online solicitation. At Belén Law Firm, our attorneys provide legal advice and guidance while building an aggressive defense to protect your future.
How Can a Defense Lawyer Help?
The outlook may seem bleak when you are facing charges for online solicitation of a minor or any crime involving sexual conduct with a minor. However, there are several defense strategies that may be available to you, depending on the facts of your case. A criminal defense attorney will learn all of the details of your case before determining what defense strategy may be most appropriate.
Law enforcement invests significant time and resources into tracking those soliciting minors online. Officers pose as minors during sting operations and interact with the accused through chat rooms, social media sites, electronic mail, or other electronic message services. The police typically collect significant evidence from these conversations, often over the course of several months.
However, online chats may be misinterpreted, and law enforcement agencies may bait suspects into incriminating themselves or communicating in a sexually explicit manner. Your experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer will explore all possible avenues for defense, including a lack of intent. Proving a lack of intent to engage in a sexual act with the minor is frequently the most successful defense against soliciting a minor. To win a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to have sexual contact with the minor and that they were not planning to meet for another reason. Planning to meet with a minor with a non-sexual motivation is not a criminal offense.
When you obtain legal counsel from the Belén Law Firm, our Arizona online solicitation lawyers will review the evidence and facts of your case and plan an aggressive defense strategy to earn you the best possible result.
Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer for Online Solicitation of a Minor
When you face a charge for online solicitation of a minor (or any sex crime for that matter), your entire future is at risk. A sex crimes conviction will undoubtedly follow you around for the rest of your life, negatively affecting where you live, your employment, and even custody of your children, among many other things. As such, it is not wise to move forward without the help of a tenacious and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.
Attorney Belén Olmedo Guerra has years of experience defending Phoenix, AZ clients against online solicitation of a minor and other state and federal sex crime charges. These cases are often complex and require a thorough legal background and knowledge of both state law and federal law to successfully navigate. Belén will assess your legal needs and options and work hard to deliver the most effective defense strategy and the most favorable solution.
If you’re facing charges for soliciting a minor online, please contact our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys immediately to schedule a free consultation. Our law office is ready to answer your questions and discuss how we can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case. We are ready to work on your defense – all you have to do is contact the Belén Law Firm by calling (602) 715-0908 or reach out online.