Generally, pornography may be protected by the 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech clause in the United Constitution if it is found to have some artistic value. However, it is illegal to possess, distribute or manufacture photographs, videos or other materials in which minors are depicted in sexually explicit activities. In Arizona, these offenses are referred to as Sexual Exploitation of Minors. The penalties imposed for conviction of these crimes are undoubtedly the harshest in the nation.
According to A.R.S. 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.
B. If any visual depiction of sexual exploitation of a minor is admitted into evidence, the court shall seal that evidence at the conclusion of any grand jury proceeding, hearing or trial.
C. Sexual exploitation of a minor is a class 2 felony and if the minor is under fifteen years of age it is punishable pursuant to section 13-705.
As mentioned in this statute, enhanced penalties are imposed if the minors depicted in sexual conduct are under the age of fifteen. In these circumstances, a term of imprisonment between thirteen and twenty-seven years must be imposed upon conviction for each photograph or video possessed. Moreover, if a person is convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing multiple photographs or videos, the sentences must be served consecutive to each other.
Many cases involving Sexual Exploitation of a Minor are resolved by way of a plea agreement as opposed to a trial due to the tremendous prison terms which may be imposed. Plea agreements often result in reduced prison terms, lifetime probation and/or jail sentences. People convicted of these offense will often be prohibited from using a computer or smartphone, accessing the internet or having contact with children.
Defending against these types of charges requires a thorough review of all the evidence gathered by police and intended to be used by a prosecutor. This includes:
1. Evaluating How the Investigation was Initiated:
Often police initiate an investigation after receiving a report from a third party such as a family member, friend, employer, etc. Police also receive "cyber tips" from internet access providers such as Google or Yahoo when they believe a specific IP address has been used to access unlawful materials.
2. Reviewing Search Warrants Obtained by Police to Collect Evidence:
As part of their investigation, police will secure a search warrant or court order that permits them to seize and search through electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, laptops or tablets to determine how illegal pornographic materials may have been accessed, what materials were downloaded or transmitted and where the materials were stored. A review of the search warrants themselves as well as the affidavit police prepared to obtain the warrants can be used to confirm whether all of the information provided to the judge who issued the warrant was truthful and whether police may have overstepped their authority when acting upon the search warrants.
3. Reviewing Police Interviews During an Investigation
A powerful tool used by police in criminal investigations involves questioning people who are suspected of criminal activity. In some cases, police will visit a suspect at home and engage them in conversations about their activities. In other situations, police will take people into custody and interrogate them concerning their use of an electronic device to access illegal materials. An attorney must determine whether a person should have received their Miranda warnings prior to questioning and whether police followed proper procedures during their interview.
Other aspects involved in defending these types of cases include whether
- more than one person could have had access to the electronic device where illegal materials were located,
- the materials were purposefully stored on an electronic device
- the materials were downloaded from a secure IP address
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Defend Your Legal Rights and Reputation
If you have been arrested and charged in Tempe, Phoenix, or any other city within Maricopa or Pinal County, it is vital that you contact a highly skilled criminal lawyer immediately. Tempe lawyer Raymond Kimble will recognize available defenses and has been defending people charged with these crimes for many years. Mr. Kimble knows how to prepare a solid defense, challenge the prosecution's evidence and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges
With a seasoned Tempe criminal defense lawyer on your case, you will have your rights protected as your attorney fights to secure a favorable outcome on your behalf. Attorney Raymond Kimble has successfully represented many individuals throughout Arizona over the last twenty years who have been accused of pornography and computer crimes.