Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: ARS 13-3553 Get the peace of mind that comes with an elite defense. Call Stewart Salwin.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Arizona: ARS 13-3553

What is Sexual Exploitation of a Minor?

A.R.S. § 13-3553 criminalizes the possession of what is commonly known as "child pornography" in Arizona; however, the term used under Arizona law is "sexual exploitation of a minor." This is one of the most serious crimes in Arizona. Sexual exploitation of a minor is a class 2 felony, and if the minor portrayed in the in the pictures/video is under the age of 15, the crime is categorized as a "dangerous crime against children" and each picture is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison. Each picture is represented by a separate count and these counts can be "stacked," which means the prison terms will run one after the other.

In Arizona, prosecutors often charge 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in a single criminal case (i.e., in a single indictment), and because the counts stack this means that a defendant often faces a minimum of 100 years in prison if convicted of all charges. This is why this particular crime is known as a "life-ender," and should be taken gravely seriously.

A.R.S. § 13-3553 Defined

ARS 13-3553 defines sexual exploitation of minor as follows:

  • Recording, filming, photographing, developing or duplicating any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitive exhibition or other sexual conduct.
  • 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.

This definition covers everything from the production, sale, and simple possession of child pornography. The law does not make a distinction between any of these types of explicit materials. This means that the production of child pornography is punished as the same type of offense as the possession of images.

Possession of sexually explicit images is the most common charge seen in Arizona when "sexual exploitation of a minor" is involved.

In Arizona, anybody under the age of 18 is a minor. However, if the minor involved in the graphic images is under the age of 15, then ARS 13-3553 is punishable as a "dangerous crime against children" under ARS 13-705.

What is a "Dangerous Crime Against Children"?

ARS 13-705 is a special sentencing scheme in Arizona for certain crimes that are committed against children under the age of 15. The penalties for dangerous crimes against children are usually substantially harsher than the penalties would be where a dangerous crime against children designation (or "DCAC") is alleged by the prosecutor.

This includes crimes such as sexual assault, molestation of a child, commercial sexual exploitation or a minor, and sexual exploitation of a minor (i.e., child pornography).

All dangerous crimes against children carry mandatory prison terms, even if this is the defendant's first felony offense.

Penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Child pornography charges class 2 felonies in Arizona. This is the harshest level of felony, only below crimes such as murder. And given the statutory penalties and the ability of the prosecutor to stack charges against the defendant, a conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor can amount to a life sentence.

If the minor depicted in the images is between 15 and 17 years old, the crime is charged as a class 2 felony but it is not designated a "dangerous crime against children." A class 2 felony carries the following potential prison terms depending on the number of prior felony convictions the defendant has:

  • First felony offense: 3 to 12.5 years
  • Second felony offense: 4.5 to 23 years
  • Third felony offense: 10.5 to 35 years

Usually when sexual exploitation of a minor is charged, however, it will involve images of children under the age of 15. If the images involve minors less than 15 years old, the crime is charged as a dangerous crime against children. The crime carries the following penalties per image:

  • Sentencing range per image: 10 to 24 years in prison.

The prosecutor's office will usually charge 10 separate counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and these counts can be "stacked" on top of each other. This means that the prison terms will run one right after the other instead of all at the same time (which is called running them "concurrent"). So, this means that a conviction for 10 counts of child pornography will carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years for each count for a total of 100 years in prison -- an effective life sentence.

How Salwin Law Group Can Help You

Charges for sexual exploitation of a minor under ARS 13-3553 are some of the most serious criminal charges you can face. If you have been arrested or are under investigation for child pornography, an experienced Phoenix defense attorney can help. Stewart Salwin is a felony prosecutor and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. We have represented clients in sex crimes cases and sexual exploitation of a minor charges, and know the system inside and out.

When you receive serious charges, you deserve an elite defense. We offer free consultation and can discuss your case with you today. Together we can help you get your life back.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 470-6119, or contact us online to make your appointment.

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