Child pornography is a crime that is taken extremely seriously in Arizona. A criminal conviction for child pornography offenses can lead to years in prison, hefty fines and mandatory registration on Arizona’s sex offender list. If you have been accused of child pornography or any type of sex crime involving a minor, contact a Phoenix child pornography lawyer right away. An attorney can help you understand and properly navigate Arizona’s related criminal laws.
What Is Child Pornography?
Arizona state law calls child pornography the sexual exploitation of a minor. In Arizona, a minor is any child under the age of 18, which is the legal age of majority. Since a child under the age of 18 has not reached the age of consent, he or she cannot legally consent to sexual contact. This means you could be accused of child pornography or child sex crimes even if you had the minor’s consent.
According to Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-3553, a person commits the crime of sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly engaging in any of the following acts:
- Recording a minor engaged in exploitive exhibition or sexual conduct. Exploitive exhibition is defined as the exhibition of the genitals, pubic region or rectal area for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Anyone who records, films, photographs, develops or duplicates any image or visual depiction of a minor in this way could be charged with child pornography.
- Possessing visual depictions of a minor engaged in exploitive exhibition or other sexual conduct. Possessing child pornography in any form is also a crime in Arizona. This includes purchasing or electronically receiving child pornography.
- Distributing child pornography. Duplicating, developing, exchanging, selling, transporting, electronically transmitting or otherwise distributing any type of child pornography is against the law.
The law is not specific in the format of the visual depiction of the minor. It does not matter if the suspect was found recording, possessing or distributing a hardcopy photograph, a digital image, magazine, etc. The crime is prosecuted the same. A suspect facing charges for child pornography in Arizona may also be accused of related crimes, such as the unlawful disclosure of images, surreptitious recording or child sexual abuse. This can increase the penalties and consequences the defendant faces.
Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes
In Arizona, child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor is a class 2 felony. This crime is punishable by a 3-year to 24-year prison sentence per violation, as well as fines, extensive probation and the possible loss of parental rights. The defendant will also have to register with the Arizona Sex Offender Registry, which will last for life. The penalties are enhanced if the minor is under 15 years of age.
Child Pornography Defenses
Every defendant in Arizona has the right to legal counsel and a trial by jury. The strength of your defense strategy is critical, as it may be all that stands between you and a life-changing criminal conviction. Possible defenses that may be used in a child pornography case include:
- False accusation
- Coerced confession
- Illegal search and seizure
- Faulty software tools used by investigators
- Shared computers used by one or more people
- Accidental child pornography viewing
- Virtual child pornography that does not show a real child or real acts
- The person depicted is not a minor
The argument that child pornography is a protected act under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech, is not valid in Arizona or other states. Since child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation, it is not considered protected speech by the Constitution.
Accused of Child Pornography? Consult With an Attorney
If you are facing child pornography allegations in Phoenix, Arizona, contact an attorney without delay. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome during this serious type of criminal case.