Child Pornography and Computer Crimes Defenses in Arizona
Tech-Savvy Tucson Criminal Lawyers Defending Your Rights
Advances in technology have opened up new and expanded platforms for communication, relationships, and business. This has created new opportunities for people intent on abusing these platforms. Computers, smart phones, and the internet are closely monitored for incidents of soliciting minors for sexual purposes and possession of child pornography. Building an effective defense against these allegations requires an understanding of the technology involved, the applicable case law and the criminal codes.
Nesci & St. Louis is at the forefront of defending child pornography and computer and cybercrimes. Our attorneys possess nearly 40 years of combined experience defending against serious criminal charges, including computer crimes in state and federal courts. We stay up to date on the newest cases involving cyber and computer crimes. Tech-savvy and with a team of experts at our disposal, we will protect your rights from any overzealous investigators or improper practices employed by federal or state law enforcement agencies.
Child Pornography Charges
The Internet makes it easy to transmit personal materials anonymously. Although viewing, possessing or transmitting pornography involving adults is legal, viewing, possessing, or transmitting images depicting an individual who is under 18 engaging in sexual exhibition or conduct is not. Some individuals can and do innocently view child pornography while attempting to view perfectly legal adult pornography, never viewing child pornography intentionally, and never realizing that this act carries mandatory prison time. They may be viewing images on a website that states that all images on the site are of individuals 18 or older and click on and view a photograph or video that actually depicts a minor. Even if the viewer stops viewing the image immediately and attempts to delete it, if the image has been identified as child pornography by the government, a report will be made by your internet service provider to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and that tip will be forwarded to the Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children task force. A local police agency will obtain a warrant to learn the name and address on the internet account holder for the residence where the image was viewed, and the police will come to that person’s home to question, and, in most cases, arrest them.
Unfortunately, technically sophisticated criminals using a peer-to-peer network can store illegal information and images on the computer of a completely innocent person, without the computer’s owner knowledge that this has occurred. It is not unusual for a law enforcement agency to obtain a search warrant seeking specific images of minors they believe are present on a computer, then find completely different images present when they conduct the search, with no trace of some or all of the images of minors they were originally seeking.
We all understand that there is a huge difference between someone who touches a child in a sexual manner, or worse, and someone who views an image, even an image of a minor in a pose of sexual exhibition. The law, however, makes no distinction between the two acts. In fact, if images of child pornography are found on your computer, you will be charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. Each image found (these can be files that were viewed on a computer in the past that have not been completely deleted from the computer) can be charged as a separate crime of possession of child pornography, carrying a mandatory sentence of 10 to 24 years in prison. Conviction of possessing more than two images of child pornography may require the judge to impose a life sentence – for a first-time offender.
Even when a conviction of offenses involving child pornography or other computer sex crimes does not result in a lengthy prison sentence, individuals convicted of these offenses often suffer the lifelong requirement that they register as a sex offender with the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s online database, and may be sentenced to lifetime sex offender probation. This type of probation requires sex offender counseling, polygraph examinations, and severely restricts where you can live and work, the type of volunteer activities you can participate in, and may affect your ability to see your children and other minor family members. If you are accused of possessing, transmitting or producing child pornography, call Nesci & St. Louis right away, to begin your aggressive defense against these serious charges.
Soliciting a Minor for Sexual Purposes (Luring)
Not only does the internet offer anonymity, many forums let you be whoever you want to be – a person of a different height, weight, gender, or age, if you so choose. Many adults enjoy innocent role playing and pretending to be someone or something they are not, and we all know to question the accuracy of profile pictures posted online. There are chat rooms on different dating sites that require all participants to be over 18. Occasionally, an individual looking for companionship will enter one of these chat rooms and strike up a conversation with someone who claims to be a minor. One or both parties to this conversation may be role-playing, believing that a minor would not actually be present because of the requirement that the chatroom is for adults only. The conversation may become sexual in nature, and the parties may make plans to meet. However, if even a well-intentioned person makes plans to meet an individual holding themselves out to be a minor for sexual purposes, they may be charged with a serious crime.
Under the Arizona Revised Statutes, § 13-3554, Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation, soliciting sexual conduct with a person while “knowing or having reason to know” that they are a minor is a class 3 felony, and, if the minor is under 15, the crime is punishable as a dangerous crime against children, with a prison range of 5 to 15 years. If you send someone you “know or have reason to know” is a minor a picture that is “a visual depiction of material that is harmful to minors” and then, at any point, before or afterwards, solicit sex from that individual, you have committed Aggravated Luring a Minor for Sexual Exploitation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3560. That crime is a class two felony, punishable as a dangerous crime against children, meaning that you will face a mandatory 10-24 years in prison if the minor is under 15.
If you are charged with federal version of this crime, 18 U.S.C. §2422(b), Attempted Coercion and Enticement, you face a mandatory 10 years in prison.
Under the Arizona state statutes, it is not a defense that the “victim” is not actually a minor. The “victim” can be a police officer, or even a news reporter, pretending to be a minor. The fact that there is actually no minor victim is not a defense. The state must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that you knew (or that you should have known) that the person you were going to meet was a minor, and that you were meeting this person in order to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.
Another issue that arises in these cases occurs when, law enforcement officers use deceptive means to gain access to internet chat rooms and to obtain users’ personal social media profiles. In some cases, investigators search private information without obtaining a valid warrant and may even engage in methods of investigation that constitute entrapment. Our Computer Crimes attorneys frequently use Fourth Amendment case law to seek to have evidence collected using improper or illegal police tactics suppressed during the early stages of your case and have been successful in having evidence suppressed.
Consult our tech-savvy attorneys about your Child Pornography or Computer Crime charges to get our team working to get you the best result possible. Call Nesci & St. Louis today at (520) 999-2441 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.
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