Arizona Sexting Laws and Punishment

arizona sexting lawsMost of us use mobile devices for just about everything – from dating to shopping. Sexting has become quite normal today. Sending or receiving sexually explicit or graphic messages via a phone is the new normal. About 20 percent of young adults confirm that they’ve sent such a text to someone.

Sexting is far from illegal but the situation changes when underage individuals are involved. In Arizona, teen sexting is a serious crime that comes with the respective repercussions.

Teen Sexting Troublesome Statistics

Teen sexting statistics paint a scary picture that parents and educators need to be aware of.

A recent survey suggests that seven percent of individuals aged 14 to 17 have sexted. Nearly 16 percent of teens have received a sext featuring sexually suggestive texts or nude pictures. What’s even more worrying is the fact that approximately four percent of 12-year-olds in the US have received a sext.

These are the conservative estimates. A Time report published in 2018 shows that sexting among teenagers could have even more epic proportions. Today, 73 percent of teenagers in the US have a smartphone. Of these kids, 27 percent have received a sext.

Arizona Teen Sexting Laws

Depending on who is sending a sext, the act could result in a juvenile complaint or criminal charges in the case of an adult contacting an underage individual.

Individuals under the age of 18 who send explicit pictures or graphic texts will be dealt with by the juvenile justice system in Arizona. Juvenile law addresses underage sexting and criminalizes the sending of graphic images to minors or possessing the graphic pictures of minors that have been sent via electronic means.

Receiving a sext from a minor without requesting it does not qualify as a criminal act. The recipient, however, should have undertaken reasonable steps to destroy the image and to report the occurrence to a parent or a guardian.

Juvenile sexting could lead to sanctions like probation or detention in a juvenile detention center.

As far as adults are concerned, sexting with underage individuals is a crime.

Adults can be charged with the sexual exploitation of minors, engaging in exploitative behavior or other sexual conduct. The sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class 2 felony. A first-time offender will face a prison sentence of five years in the case of minors under the age of 15. If there are aggravating circumstances or if a person is a prior offender, they will face at least 10 years in prison.

Sexting as a Federal Offense

Arizona sexting-related crimes could be prosecuted under federal law, as well.

The Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 criminalizes the possession or distribution of graphic images of minors.

Engaging a minor in sexually explicit conduct is also a federal crime. If parents have knowledge of such behavior and they do nothing to end it, they could also face the criminal process.

These federal regulations apply to adults who engage in sexting with teens. Juvenile sexting is unlikely to be prosecuted on a federal level. Under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, minor offenders are to be prosecuted within the state whenever possible.

What to Do if You’re Charged with Sexting a Minor

Sexting a minor is a very serious offense that can potentially change your life. You need to get in touch with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The ramifications could include a prison sentence and being registered as a sex offender. Both of these will have a profoundly negative effect on your life that can’t be negated effortlessly.

A good lawyer can challenge the charges in several ways. The lack of knowledge about the minor’s age is one possibility. Violations of the defendant’s constitutional rights can also be pinpointed, helping for the suppression of some of the evidence or the dismissal of the criminal charges.

Click here for information on laws regarding disorderly conduct in Arizona.