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Breaking Down Teen Sexting Laws in Arizona

Posted on October 19, 2018 in Sexual Crimes

The rise in technological communication has led to a string of new behaviors and actions, and with that, new related laws. When teenagers communicate via text message, they may find themselves in dangerous situations. “Sexting,” or texting sexually explicit material and/or photographs, is a common enough situation – but one that can lead to unforeseen criminal consequences. Transmitting naked photos of underage teens can be a felony in Arizona. Here’s what to know about the state’s teen sexting laws.

If you were recently accused of distributing sexual photos of a minor, you need the help of a Scottsdale sexual exploitation of children attorney.

Unlawful Use of a Cell Phone By a Minor

Arizona has a specific statute regarding teen sexting: Arizona Revised Statutes Section 8-309. According to this law, it is illegal for a minor to knowingly use an electronic communication device to view or transmit photographs or videos of a juvenile that depict explicit sexual material. It is also against the law for a minor to knowingly possess explicit sexual material involving a juvenile, even if the juvenile transmitted it to the individual. The only time these actions aren’t a crime is if the minor didn’t solicit the material or if the minor reasonably tried to delete or destroy the material.

“Explicit sexual material” can refer to any image or video that depicts nudity, genitalia, sexual activity, sexual conduct, or sadomasochistic abuse. Breaking the state’s unlawful use of an electronic device by a minor law could result in a “petty offense” charge if the minor transmits the material to just one other person. If the minor transmits or shows the material to more than one person, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor. If it is the minor’s second or subsequent conviction, the crime is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Possession of Child Pornography or Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

It may seem unfair that a teen willfully sending naked photographs can qualify as child pornography, but that is the case in Arizona (and most other states). It does not matter if the teen gave consent for you to view or keep the photos, took the photos him/herself, or if you and the teen are in a consensual relationship. In the eyes of the law, possessing naked or sexually explicit photographs of someone under the age of 18 is against the law. This action could be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the age of the person in possession of the material.

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-3553 states that someone commits the crime of minor sexual exploitation if he or she records, films, photographs, develops or duplicates any material in which a minor is engaging in sexual conduct. It is also against the law to sell, receive, distribute, possess, exchange, or electronically transmit this type of material. Sexual exploitation of a minor, or possession of child pornography, is a Class 2 felony. If the teen in the photo is under the age of 15, sexting may qualify as a “dangerous crime against children,” pursuant to Section 13-705 of the law. Conviction of this crime comes with a minimum of 13 years in prison.

Less Serious Charges for Teen Sexting

If you’re a minor charged with unlawful teen sexting in Arizona, a defense lawyer can help argue your charges down to less serious crimes. To preserve the futures of teens who make this mistake, the courts often permit the downgrade of a misdemeanor and felony child pornography crimes to lesser crimes, such as “using a phone to threaten or intimidate, or “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

While these are still criminal offenses, the consequences will not be as severe – such as the entry on the state sex offender list for life. This distinction in the crime you committed can make all the difference to your future. Don’t try to defend yourself alone in the face of teen sexting charges in Arizona. Protect yourself by hiring an experienced defense attorney.