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ARS 13-3553

Is Caught “Sexting” a Sex Crime in Arizona?

Is Caught “Sexting” a Sex Crime in Arizona?

The popularity of sexting continues to increase amongst the adult population in the United States. According to CBS News, a research project was conducted at Drexel University with U.S. adult residents between the ages of 18 and 82. Of the 870 participants, 88% admitted to sexting once, and 82% admitted to sexting within the past year. While this study proves that adult texting is quite popular, sexting among minors has actually decreased between 2008 and 2013. Nonetheless, minors are still sexting, making it a criminal act.

The question of is sexting a sex crime amongst adults in Arizona varies from case to case because the sexting act can be linked to other offenses, which then can make sexting a crime. Generally speaking, sexting between two consenting adults is not a crime in the State of Arizona. However, if either one of the involved parties does not give consent to the sexting act, charges like harassment, emotional distress and obscenity can be filed. Harassment examples of adult sexting are someone who sends unwanted explicit messages and images to someone, or someone who asks or demands nude pictures or messages from someone.

What Is Sexting?

To be clear on the definition of the term, sexting is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. While this is the exact definition of the word in the dictionary, sexting is not limited to cell phones. Sexting can be done via e-mail, instant messenger chat rooms, and social media as well. It is a combination of the two words; sex and text. Sexting can be between a married couple who exchange sexy messages and pictures to entice their spouse and give them something spicy to look at to get them through the day. It could also be a man and woman who just met and are mutually attracted to one another. They may want to consensually exchange suggestive pictures and messages for both to enjoy at his or her discretion.

However, there are other forms of sexting that are seen as betraying, perverse, and demoralizing. When minors are involved, the act is criminal, regardless of the conditions. General examples of sexting gone wrong is an exchange of pictures and messages between adults and minors, someone sending sexual messages and photos to someone without the recipient’s consent, or someone using sexting as a coercion tactic, like blackmail. In determining criminality (with the exception of juvenile involvement), this is where it can get murky because the act of sexting can easily spill over into other issues.

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