Child Pornography as Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Both federal and state law prohibits the recording, possession, or distribution of any depiction of sexual abuse of a child. Arizona state statutes and punishments surrounding child pornography are notoriously severe. Child pornography in Arizona is also known as “sexual exploitation of a minor.” According to the Arizona Revised Statute §13-3553,
A. A person commits sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly:
1. Recording, filming, photographing, developing or duplicating any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitive exhibition or other sexual conduct.
2. Distributing, transporting, exhibiting, receiving, selling, purchasing, electronically transmitting, possessing or exchanging any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitive exhibition or other sexual conduct.
Penalties for Child Pornography Charges in Tucson
Penalties for any charge related to child pornography are strict and can be life-changing in the event of a conviction. In Arizona, if convicted of the possession of a single image of child pornography in which the minor is under 15 years of age, the minimum sentence is 10 years in prison, with each additional image meriting a consecutive sentence.
Dangerous Crime Against Children
If the images or videos involved in the charge contain children aged 14 years or younger, it is considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC) and garners more severe punishments. Those convicted of recording, distributing, or possessing child pornography must register as a sex offender, pay heavy fines, and go through lengthy probationary periods after being released from prison. They will also serve substantial prison sentences according to the following rubric:
First felony: The minimum sentence for those without any prior felony convictions who are convicted of a DCAC for child pornography is 10 years, with a maximum sentence of 24 years
Second felony: If the defendant has one previous predicate felony (such as another DCAC), the minimum punishment becomes 21 years, and the maximum will be 35 years
Those convicted and serving time for a DCAC charge are given a mandatory flat prison sentence, meaning that they cannot be released early for any reason, including good behavior. In addition, each charge will be stacked when the sentence is determined. This means, for example, if a defendant with no previous felony conviction is charged and convicted of two counts of child pornography possession, they will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.
Charges Involving Minors Aged 15-17
A child pornography charge involving minors between the age of 15 and 17 is considered a class 2 felony. A first offense is punishable by a prison sentence of 3 to 12.5 years, a second offense carries 4.5 to 23.25 years, and a third or future conviction carries 10.5 to 35 years in prison.
Defending Arizona Child Pornography Charges
Because of the heavy penalties associated with sexual exploitation of minors, a comprehensive defense is essential if charged with child pornography. Remember that a criminal charge does not equal a conviction, and the particular circumstances of a case may convince a court to drop charges or a jury to fail to convict. A criminal defense lawyer can work with the client to understand the context of the charge and mount a knowledgeable defense. To speak to a compassionate, thorough, and experienced lawyer about your case, contact Sherick and Bleier today online or by phone at (520) 318-3939.