Sexting Laws in Arizona
The act of sending sexually explicit photos via electronic communication (particularly text message), or “sexting,” is a common phenomenon, according to a survey by Drexel University.
When sexting occurs between consenting adults, it is not a criminal act in Arizona. However, sexting is considered a crime in situations such as when minors are involved or the communication is non-consensual.
Underage Sexting: A.R.S. 8-309
The state of Arizona prohibits sexting among minors in order to protect this vulnerable demographic. According to A.R.S. 8-309, it is unlawful for a juvenile to:
- Intentionally or knowingly use an electronic communication device to transmit or display a visual depiction of a minor that depicts explicit sexual material.
- This is a petty offense if the juvenile sent or showed the visual depiction to one other person.
- This is a class 3 misdemeanor if the juvenile sent or showed the visual depiction to more than one other person.
- A violation following a previous violation, or after completion of a diversion program for such a violation, is a class 2 misdemeanor.
- Intentionally or knowingly possess a visual depiction of a minor that depicts explicit sexual material and that was transmitted to the juvenile through the use of an electronic communication device.
- This is a petty offense.
Class 2 misdemeanors can result in incarceration of up to four months, while class 3 misdemeanors can result in incarceration of up to thirty days.
Minors will not be charged for sexting violations if they did not solicit the visual depiction or if they took reasonable steps to destroy the visual depiction or reported it to a parent, guardian, school official, or law enforcement official.
Sexting Violations for Adults
Adults can receive a variety of criminal charges for sexting if the communication isn’t consensual or involves a minor. Additionally, if a minor under the age of 15 is involved, the offender can be charged with dangerous crimes against children, for which penalties are particularly severe.
Those involved in child pornography, officially referred to as sexual exploitation of a minor, can be charged with a class 2 felony and charged with dangerous crimes against children if the minor involved was under 15 years of age. This sexual exploitation can involve recordings or visual depictions of minors involved in sexual conduct, possessing these items, or distributing, receiving, or selling them.
Individuals involved in revenge porn, officially referred to as unlawful disclosure of images depicting states of nudity or sexual activity, can be charged with a criminal offense. Threatening to disclose such images is a class 1 misdemeanor, with other violations charged as a class 4 or class 5 felonies depending on the means of disclosure.
If an adult lures a minor for sexual exploitation they can be charged with a class 3 felony. If the minor involved is under 15 years of age, they will be charged with dangerous crimes against children, for which penalties are more severe.
A person can be charged with commercial sexual exploitation of a minor if the visual depictions are produced for commercial viewing. Violators can be charged with a class 2 felony, for which first-time offenders will be charged more harshly with incarceration of up to 27 years. If the minor involved is under 15 years of age, the offender will be charged with dangerous crimes against children.
Individuals can be charged with sexual extortion for threatening another person to engage in sexual conduct or allowing them to be photographed, recorded, or exhibited. Sexual extortion of an adult is a class 3 felony. Sexual extortion of a minor is a class 2 felony, and it is a dangerous crime against children if the minor was under 15 years of age.
It should be noted that first-time offenders can be incarcerated for up to 12.5 years for class 2 felonies and up to 8.75 years for class 3 felonies. Incarceration lengths increase when dangerous crimes against children are involved.
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