Sexting has become especially common among teenagers, many of whom are minors. Sexting occurs when a person sends nudes or sexually suggestive pictures electronically through text, social media accounts, or emails. Since sexting is often used to bully or harass individuals, there are many state laws pertaining to sexting with minors.
Here are some of the penalties a person can face if they are charged with sexting underage individuals.
Sexting Committed by Juveniles
Arizona law prohibits juveniles (under the age of 18) from sending or exchanging images of minors that depict explicit sexual material electronically. Explicitly sexual material includes images that show human genitalia or nudity, sexual activity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse.
Juveniles will face serious consequences if they knowingly send or display a sexually explicit image of a minor. Penalties often include a class 3 misdemeanor if the juvenile sent the image to multiple people. A class 3 misdemeanor carries a possible sentence of 30 days' detention and $500 in fines.
However, individuals who send images aren’t the only ones who can face criminal charges. If a person receives or possesses sexts and doesn’t report it to a parent, guardian, teacher, or police officer, nor destroys it, can also face penalties.
In some cases, teen sexting can be punished under preexisting laws against enticement and child pornography. In other cases, prosecutors can allow minors to avoid a felony record and sex offender registration after facing sexting charges.
If a minor is found sexting more than once, they can be charged for a repeat violation, a class 2 misdemeanor. A class 2 misdemeanor carries a possible sentence of up to four months' detention and $750 in fines.
Adult Sexting a Minor & Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Arizona also has strict laws for adults (over the age of 18) who sext images of minors or to minors. An adult can face felony charges for the exploitation of a minor. A person commits sexual exploitation of a minor if they knowingly create, send, possess, or exchange an image of a minor engaging in sexual conduct. It also includes showing genitals or pubic areas of a person for the purpose of sexual stimulation.
An adult can also face serious penalties if they knowingly sext with a minor under the age of 18.
Sexual exploitation of a minor or child pornography can lead to serious consequences if convicted. Below are some of the charges a person may face if convicted of sexting with a minor or sending inappropriate images of a minor:
- A class 2 felony charge for the first offense. A class 2 felony may include probation with no jail time or three to twelve years of prison time with no probation.
- If the defendant has one prior felony conviction, the person can face up to 23 years of prison time.
- If the defendant has two prior felony convictions, the person can face up to 35 years of prison time.
How to Protect Your Rights
If you face criminal charges for sexting with a minor or sending sexually explicit images of a minor, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Depending on the severity of your case, you could face hefty fines and long prison time. Don’t put your future in the hands of an attorney with little experience.
Our team at Suzuki Law Offices, L.L.C. has helped those facing serious criminal charges across the country get their charges reduced or even dismissed. We know how overwhelming and daunting it can be to face criminal charges; that is why our team is ready to protect your rights and help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Contact our Arizona criminal defense attorneys today at (602) 842-6762 to schedule a consultation!