Children are the most innocent and vulnerable victims of criminal activity. Crimes involving children can include emotional and physical abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and these offenses can come with severe punishments. 

If you’re accused of this crime, it’s crucial that you understand the legal ramifications and potential defenses for the charge. This article will cover exploitation of a minor and other crimes against children.

Crimes Against Children

Minor-related crimes may be committed by caretakers, parents, and anyone who is in charge of the guidance and care of the child. Law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and school officials must report signs of exploitation or abuse against a minor. Here are some of the most common categories of crimes against children that often overlap with exploitation of a minor:

Child Abandonment

Child abandonment can include a guardian, parent, or person responsible for a child emotionally or physically abandoning them without regard for their welfare or safety. In many cases of child abandonment, the adult fails to provide for the minor living under their care.

Child Abuse

Child abuse includes cruelty inflicted upon a minor, such as sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, endangerment, or emotional or physical harm. This crime comes with severe punishments.

Child Pornography

Both state and federal laws prohibit possession, distribution, and production of pornographic content that portrays a minor. Child pornography laws punish individuals who obtain or share pornographic videos or images involving minors.

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is defined as sexual relations involving a minor who is younger than the age of consent. A person who is underage isn’t able to legally consent to sexual relations, and any sexual activities with such a person is illegal. Even if the minor in question agreed to the relations, the accused can still receive a statutory rape charge. 

What is Sexual Exploitation of a Minor? 

Sexual exploitation of a minor can involve luring a minor (online or in person) for sexual exploitation purposes. It can also involve possessing, distributing, or making child pornography. If you’ve been accused of child exploitation in Arizona, it’s imperative that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Exploitation of a Minor Penalties

Each violation regarding sexual exploitation of a minor may come with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison according to Arizona law. This means that a single pornographic image of a minor may come with 10 years of prison time and you could be put on the sex offender registry for life. 

Multiple Exploitation Charges

Sometimes, you can receive multiple charges for one case based on how many images were involved, meaning you may be facing more than one consecutive 10-year sentence. You may receive a sexual exploitation of a minor charge if you knowingly duplicate, develop, photograph, film, or record a minor engaging in sexual conduct. 

You may also receive the charge if you’ve exchanged, possessed, electronically transmitted, purchased, sold, received, exhibited, transported, or distributed any visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual conduct.

The Age of the Victims

The seriousness of the penalties for exploitation of a minor in Arizona will vary depending on how old the victims are. If they’re younger than 14, the crime will also count as a Dangerous Crime Against Children, which is a very severe offense. For a first offense, you may face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and 24 years maximum for each conviction. If you’ve received a felony before, you may be facing between 21 and 35 years of incarceration for exploitation of a minor.

For Dangerous Crimes Against Children, the offender must serve their full prison sentence before the possibility of release. In other words, you may not carry out your penalties simultaneously, and they must be served consecutively. 

Exploitation on the Internet

The use of technology is increasingly prevalent in our society, and it’s possible to accidentally happen upon inappropriate images. From random links to spam email, sometimes you don’t know what you’re clicking on. A wide range of online activities, even accidental ones, can qualify as exploitation of a minor in Arizona. 

The statute covering exploitation of an underage person is very broad. This means that anyone who receives, electronically transmits, transports, buys, sells, develops, copies, photographs, films, or records a visual depiction of sexual activity with an underage person can receive this charge. If this has happened to you, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you protect yourself against legal ramifications.

Luring a Minor

You may receive a “luring a minor for sexual exploitation” conviction if you solicit or offer sexual conduct with a person and believe or know that they’re underage. If you’re chatting online with a minor and you initiate sexual interaction, you may receive a charge and conviction for this behavior. Even if you’re speaking with a police officer who is impersonating a minor, you can still potentially be convicted.

Defenses for Exploitation of a Minor

There are a lot of potential defenses for an exploitation of a minor accusation. In order to receive a conviction, you must have knowingly electronically received or transmitted, transported, purchased, sold, developed, duplicated, photographed, recorded or been in the possession of a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct. 

You may receive a dismissal of charges if you can prove that you didn’t knowingly engage in these behaviors. For example, the computer that the images were on may have been a shared device. In this case, an attorney may be able to help prove that the images weren’t yours. If you do come across images like this, it’s important to report them as soon as possible. But if you didn’t, you may be able to prove that you accidentally came across the photos. 

Speak with a Legal Professional in Arizona

If someone accused you of exploitation of a minor, it’s imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help you assess the situation and come up with the best plan of action.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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