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Overview of ARS § 13-3554
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3554 regarding luring a minor for sexual exploitation, it is unlawful to offer or solicit sexual conduct with another person while knowing or having reason to believe that the other person is a minor. Importantly, claiming that the person involved is not a minor is not a valid defense against this charge – but there are other ways your defense attorney can fight this charge.
The statute categorizes luring a minor for sexual exploitation as a class 3 felony, a serious offense with significant potential penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Furthermore, if the minor in question is under fifteen years of age, the penalties can be even more severe, determined in accordance with section 13-705 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Convicted individuals face limitations on sentence suspension, probation, pardon, or release from confinement.
These options are only possible if specifically authorized by section 31-233, subsection A or B of the Arizona Revised Statutes. The convicted individual must serve the court-imposed sentence or explore potential commutation options.
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Are Police Sting Operations Legal For Luring a Minor?
The Side of the Law You Might Not Be Aware Of
It is oftentimes the case that the person doing the “luring” is doing so online, usually by way of social media or some kind of chat room. In these scenarios, the person “being lured” is not, in fact, a minor child but a full-grown adult pretending to be someone underage for the purpose of setting up a sting with the alleged perpetrator.
Typically, the alleged perpetrator might ask for some proof that the person s/he is speaking to is, in fact, a minor under the age of 15. At this point, law enforcement will send the alleged perpetrator an image of a girl or boy who has nothing to do with this setup; once the alleged perpetrator accepts, the authorities set up a meeting in a public or private place, such as a hotel room, so as not to scare away the alleged perpetrator — and once s/he arrives, they are ambushed by law enforcement, arrested, and from there will be booked for luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
But is this fair? Is this entrapment? Is the deceitful nature of law enforcement doing more harm than good? Are they finding the people who are actually luring small children who are already wise to the tricks law enforcement uses to catch them?
There’s no way to answer all of these questions here, but we can say that yes, it is possible to beat charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation. Your defense could argue that there was never a child involved, therefore, never have lured him or her.
Have more questions about your luring a minor for sexual exploitation case? Give the Law Office of Daniel Hutto a call today at (602) 536-7878 to get started with your free legal consultation right away!
Other Related Sex Crimes
In addition to these charges, other crimes may be brought up against you. These include:
- ARS 13-3553 – Sexual exploitation of a minor
- ARS 13-3554 – Luring a minor for sexual exploitation
- ARS 13-1403 – Public sexual indecency
- ARS 13-1404 – Sexual abuse charges
- ARS 13-1406 – Sexual assault charges
- ARS 13-3821 – Failure to register as a sex offender
- ARS 13-3211 – Solicitation of a prostitute
- ARS 13-1304 – Kidnapping charges
- ARS 13-3602 – Restraining Order of Protection Violation
Potential Penalties and Sentencing for Luring a Minor Child for Sexual Exploitation in Arizona
Penalties for a Class 3 Felony Charge
Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-3554, luring a minor for sexual exploitation is a class 3 felony. However, when this is the first conviction of the defendant, penalties, and sentencing can vary quite a bit.
- For first-time offenders with no prior felony record, sentencing can include everything from probation and 0 days to 1 year in jail. Depending on more nefarious circumstances, sentencing can change from a minimum of 2 years up to 8.75 years in prison.
- For those convicted of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, with one prior felony conviction, there is no option for probation or jail. Prison sentencing starts at a minimum of 3.5 years, with a maximum of 16.25 years.
- For those found guilty of this new crime who previously had two prior felony convictions, probation, and jail are taken off the table here as well. Prison sentencing will range from a minimum of 7.5 years to a maximum of 25 years in prison.
It’s important to note that if an actual minor child under the age of 15 — and not an undercover agent representing the law — statute ARS 13-3554 dictates that this type of luring of a minor child for sexual exploitation is now considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC).
Each DCAC charge carries with it a single, separate punishment for every single DCAC crime committed according to the following guidelines:
- First-time offenders will spend a minimum of 5 years in prison and up to 10 years in prison for each separate offense s/he is found guilty of.
- If the guilty party has a single prior felony conviction, especially those that broke DCAC laws or were other serious felonies, the prison sentence ranges from a minimum of 8 years per convicted offense up to 22 years in prison per convicted offense.
More on What DCAC Laws Could Mean for Those Convicted of Luring a Child for Sexual Exploitation in Arizona
Those who are serving DCAC time are not eligible for release until their entire prison sentence has been served in full. And, if the perpetrator is convicted of two separate charges of luring a minor child for sexual exploitation, s/he must serve each sentence separately (consecutively) and is never allowed to run their sentences concurrently.
Finally, upon release from prison, a person convicted of luring a minor child for sexual exploitation in Arizona will have to register with both the Federal and the state of Arizona Sex Offender Registry.
Enrollment on this registry is for life and precludes you from having any interaction with anyone under the age of 18 — including any minor children you may have.
The penalties for luring a minor under ARS §13-3554 are summarized in the following table:
|Offense||First Offense||One Prior Conviction||Two Prior Convictions||DCAC Conviction|
|Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation||0 days to 8.75 years||3.5 to 16.25 years||7.5 to 25 years||5 to 15 years (or more with prior predicate felony)|
|Additional Penalties||100% prison time for DCAC; Consecutive sentencing for multiple counts|
You Need a Defense Lawyer Who Understands Sex Crimes Charges in Arizona
The Defense You Need is a Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Understands Sex Crimes Charges in Arizona.
When facing accusations of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, individuals have various defense strategies at their disposal. Expert defense attorneys adeptly employ these strategies to protect their client’s rights and ensure a fair legal process. Here are some common and uncommon expert defenses that can be employed in such cases:
Common Defense Tactics:
- Lack of Intent: One of the primary elements in cases of luring a minor for sexual exploitation is intent. A defense strategy may focus on demonstrating that the accused did not have the intent to engage in sexual exploitation or that their actions were misconstrued.
- Entrapment: This defense argues that law enforcement officers or agents induced the accused to commit the offense, which they would not have done otherwise. To prove entrapment, the defense must show that the idea to commit the crime originated with law enforcement and that the accused would not have engaged in such behavior otherwise.
- Mistaken Identity: A defense attorney might challenge the accuracy of identifying the accused as the person involved in the alleged offense. Mistaken identity can arise due to factors like poor lighting, distance, or unreliable eyewitness accounts.
- Age Verification: If the accused believed, with reasonable certainty, that the individual they were communicating with was not a minor, the defense could argue that the accused exercised reasonable caution to ensure they were not interacting with an underage individual.
- Parental Consent: In certain situations, the defense could argue that the accused had received consent from a minor’s parent or guardian for any interactions or communications. This consent could potentially undermine the allegations of criminal intent.
- Lack of Clear Communication: The defense might assert that the communications or messages involved were vague or ambiguous and that any reference to sexual exploitation was not explicit or agreed upon by the parties involved.
- Digital Evidence Authentication: Given the prevalence of digital communications in modern cases, the defense could question the authenticity of online interactions, raising concerns about the accuracy or manipulation of electronic evidence.
- Mental Incapacity: If the accused had a diminished mental capacity at the time of the alleged offense, the defense could argue that they were incapable of forming the necessary intent for the crime.
It’s important to note that defense strategies can vary significantly based on the unique circumstances of each case. Expert criminal defense attorneys in cases involving luring a minor for sexual exploitation tailor their approaches to fit the specific details, evidence, and legal issues at hand.
Evidence vs. No Evidence Can Make a Difference
It surprises many of our clients to learn that they can still be charged with luring a minor, even when the person on the other end of the line — so to speak — was actually an adult. In fact, in the state of Arizona, our statute on luring a minor for sexual exploitation is quite clear, stating that the alleged victim need not be a minor for you to be charged.
Ironic though it may seem, there is a slim chance the statute will be changed anytime soon, so the best option in most cases is for the defendant to be able to prove that his or her intent was not to follow through with any kind of sex act with a minor (or in some cases, an adult pretending to be a minor).
What’s critical to remember is that the prosecution in these types of cases knows they’ve got nothing to work with if there is no evidence. Things that could help the prosecution would be things like the presence of sex toys, condoms, bondage-type equipment, large amounts of money, and so on.
In some instances, a prosecution may try to get a conviction for solicitation of child prostitution instead — this is a case they could win if you were found to have a large amount of cash on your person or in your car upon being ambushed by law enforcement.
Absent this, arguing that what you were looking for was friendship will be a lot easier to prove in court — and to a jury.
Be Prepared for What Could Be Coming Next
In some instances — especially when a prosecution feels their case is not that strong — they will go to extraordinary lengths to obtain search warrants of your home, car, or in some instances, even your office.
Once inside these places, and have a valid search warrant, they can seize any electronic device where you may have communicated with an alleged minor, cloning your hard drive before returning it to you in an effort to avoid being accused of having meddled with your device(s).
Top 5 FAQs About Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation
Below are some commonly asked questions we receive. Keep in mind that these answers are only meant to offer insight into potential strategies for individuals facing accusations of luring a minor for sexual exploitation. Each case is very unique and results are not guaranteed that these strategies will be effective. This is why we offer free consultations to evaluate your case from top to bottom.
- Could mistaken identity work in my defense?
Mistaken identity can indeed be a valid defense strategy if you can provide credible evidence that you were not present at the location mentioned in the accusations. We will investigate and gather evidence, such as alibis, witnesses, or surveillance footage, to establish that you were not the individual involved in the alleged offense. If we can show that the accuser or witnesses may have misidentified you due to factors like poor lighting or distance, we can build a strong case for mistaken identity.
- How can I use age verification to support my defense?
If you genuinely believed that the person you were communicating with was not a minor, we can use age verification as a defense. We will gather evidence of any precautions you took to ensure you were interacting with an adult, such as verifying ages through conversations, profiles, or other means. If we can demonstrate that you exercised reasonable caution to avoid engaging with a minor, it can significantly bolster your defense against the accusations.
- Can I argue that I had parental consent for my actions?
Absolutely, we can explore the possibility of using parental consent as a defense strategy. If you obtained lawful permission from the minor’s parent or guardian for your interactions, we will gather evidence to substantiate this claim. Consent can undermine the allegations of criminal intent, and we will work to present a strong case showcasing that you were not engaging in any unlawful behavior due to the presence of valid consent.
- What if I believe the digital evidence against me has been manipulated?
Raising concerns about the authenticity or manipulation of digital evidence is a valid defense strategy. We will conduct a thorough examination of the digital messages presented as evidence. This may involve employing digital forensics experts to analyze the metadata, timestamps, and other aspects of the evidence. If we can demonstrate any inconsistencies, tampering, or inaccuracies, we can challenge the credibility of the evidence and cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.
- Can I claim a diminished mental capacity as part of my defense?
Certainly, if you were struggling with mental health issues at the time of the alleged offense, claiming a diminished mental capacity can be a viable defense strategy. We will work with mental health professionals to assess your condition at that time and gather evidence to support the claim. Demonstrating that your mental state prevented you from understanding the implications of your actions can help build a compelling defense.
Timing is Critical - Speak To Us Today
Accusations of luring a minor for sexual exploitation are serious and demand swift action. It’s crucial to consult a skilled sex crimes defense attorney to protect your rights and build a robust defense strategy.
At the Law Office of Daniel Hutto, we understand the urgency of your situation. Our experienced team offers free consultations to thoroughly evaluate your case from top to bottom, examine any evidence the prosecution may try to use against you, and discover any potential discrepancies in your case.
Don’t delay – call us now at (602) 536-7878 to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Your future deserves expert guidance and a strong defense.
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