Internet sex crimes are on the rise, particularly in recent years, with people spending more time at home, on digital devices, and in front of computer screens. The FBI warns that there have been a number of “sextortion” cases in Arizona– with adults coercing teenagers to produce sexual photos and videos to share through social media. In one case, a 31-year-old from Florida victimized a Phoenix teen along with 350 others around the globe. He stated that he had nude photos of the teen and needed additional pictures of her in underwear to prevent him from revealing the alleged pics to friends and family members.

 

Social media “sextortion” is one of many different types of internet sex crimes prosecuted in Arizona. Others include child pornography, human sex trafficking, surreptitious recording, luring a minor, sexting, and more.

 

Types of Internet Sex Crimes in Arizona

 

  1. Internet Sex Crimes Against Children

 

By Arizona law, the following acts are illegal and considered internet sex crimes:

 

  • Child Pornography / Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (ARS 13-3553) – a person may not record, film, or photograph a minor engaged in exploitative exhibition or other sexual conduct, nor shall the person distribute, transport, exhibit, receive, sell, purchase, electronically transmit, possess, or exchange such material.
  • Luring a minor for sexual exploitation (ARS 13-3554) – a person may not offer or solicit sexual conduct with another person, knowing or having reason to believe that person is a minor.

 

  1. Internet Sex Crimes Against Adults

 

Most internet sex crimes against adults fall under “revenge porn” or sex trafficking:

 

  • Unlawful Disclosure of Explicit Images (ARS 13-1425) — It is unlawful for a person to disclose an identifiable image of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act with intent to harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce. “Image” can be interpreted as a photograph, film, or digital recording. “Disclose” means to display, publish, advertise, or distribute. “State of nudity” involves the depiction of the genitals, anus, or female breast.
  • Surreptitious Recording (ARS 13-3019) – It is unlawful to knowingly photograph, film, or digitally record a person urinating, defecating, dressing or undressing, nude, or engaged in sexual contact while in a restroom, locker room, bedroom, or other location where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Knowingly invading a person’s privacy, without recording, for the purposes of sexual stimulation is considered Voyeurism (ARS 13-1424).
  • Sex Trafficking (ARS 13-1307) – It is unlawful for a person to knowingly traffic a person who is 18+ for the purpose of prostitution or sexually explicit performance by deception, force, or coercion. Coercion may include abuse, threatening abuse or the legal system, tampering with a person’s identification document, extortion, threatening financial harm, interfering with access to a controlled substance, physical force, or use of a weapon.

 

Is Sexting a Crime for Minors Under 18 in Arizona?

 

ARS 8-309 states it is unlawful for a minor to knowingly use electronic means to view, possess, or transmit photographs or videos of a minor containing sexually explicit material– even if the minor depicted sent the material. “Explicit material” includes nudity, sexual contact, sexual activity, genitalia, or sadomasochistic acts. Prosecutors may pursue “sexual exploitation of a minor” felony charges in these cases, even if the alleged perpetrator is also a minor. Adults sexting with children is considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children, subject to a minimum of 10 years in prison.

 

Sex Offenses That Often Accompany Online Sex Crimes

 

While not explicitly online, many cases involving online sex crimes also involve physical contact:

 

  • Child molestation (ARS 13-1410) – a person may not knowingly and intentionally touch the genitals or anus of a child under 15 years, with exception of contact with a female breast (covered under 13-1404).
  • Sexual conduct with a minor (ARS 13-1405) – a person may not knowingly or intentionally engage in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with anyone under 18 years of age. Contact with anyone under 15 constitutes a class 2 felony. It is also a felony if the person is the minor’s parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, legal guardian, foster parent, teacher, or priest.
  • Sexual abuse (ARS 13-1404) – a person may not knowingly and intentionally engage in sexual contact with a person under 15, 15+ without consent, or while operating in a position of trust.
  • Sexual assault (ARS 13-1406) – a person may not knowingly and intentionally engage in sexual acts without consent, nor may the person use sedatives like date rape drugs to induce consent.
  • Indecent exposure (ARS 13-1402) – a person may not expose themselves inappropriately and recklessly in the presence of another without regard that a reasonable person might take offense.

 

Should You File a Civil Lawsuit for an Online Sex Crime?

 

A person who has been victimized in a sexually explicit manner by someone online has two broad legal recourses– pressing criminal charges or filing a civil complaint– but these processes are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to take both the criminal route (to punish the offender) and the civil route (to compensate you for any losses and injuries suffered).

 

In addition to pursuing criminal charges, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for anxiety, humiliation, depression, loss of job opportunities, and loss of enjoyment in life. Financial ramifications from internet sex crimes may include years of counseling, relocation services, medication, or other expenses.

 

The civil court system differs from the criminal courts in that:

 

  • The burden of proof is lower.
  • You are the plaintiff rather than the state, and you control the process.
  • You could end up with a substantial financial settlement or jury award.

 

Sometimes criminal and civil cases are combined to streamline court proceedings. However, the window to file can be as short as two years from the most recent offense, so it is important to contact an experienced sex crimes lawyer right away.

 

Get a Free Consultation in Southern AZ

 

It’s not easy speaking about sex crimes. By their very nature, they are shame-inducing even though it is never your fault. People sometimes make decisions based on falsehoods, coercion, fear, desperate financial situations, confusion, or intoxication– which is better known as exploitation. Keep in mind there are circumstances where consent cannot be legally granted– such as any sexual activity with minors or the disabled.

Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation

 

Showard Law Firm is here to help. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to explore your legal options. Our phone lines are open 24/7. If you’d like to work with us to pursue a lawsuit, we’ll cover all the upfront expenses and we receive no legal fee until there is a successful resolution of your claim.

 

We exercise the utmost care and sensitivity with cases involving online sex crime litigation. We are also happy to connect you with local resources to facilitate your physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery.

 

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