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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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How Long Can I Be Held in Custody by Law Enforcement?

How Long Can I Be Held in Custody by Law Enforcement?

In most cases, someone who is arrested will be taken into custody by law enforcement, processed into jail and then be formally charged with a crime before a judge during an arraignment hearing; but what happens if no formal charges are filed? Can the police hold you behind bars until they feel like taking action? How long do you have to wait before your case goes to trial? When should you involve a criminal defense attorney in your Arizona arrest case?

What Happens After an Arrest?

After an arrest, you are in a bit of a legal gray area. You have been taken into custody by law enforcement, but you have not been formally charged with a crime. As a result, you must remain in custody while awaiting charges for a period of time. If that time expires and you have not been charged, you must be released. While waiting, you will likely be brought before a magistrate judge who will determine your bail amount, if any. This differs from an arraignment in that, during an arraignment hearing, you are formally charged with a crime and are required to enter a plea. This is also when a trial date is set, and you will remain in jail until your trial.

If you are not charged within the hold period, you will not be arraigned, but a bail amount and the posting of bail may be required – see “how to post bail”. Once again, this is an area of legal limbo because you are still in jail while waiting to see what is going to happen, so you should contact your defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to ensure that you receive adequate representation from the start of the criminal justice process.

While Waiting in Jail:

  • Exercise your right against self-incrimination
  • Follow commands by law enforcement within legal boundaries
  • Contact your defense attorney
  • Know that you have not been formally charged with a crime until you have been arraigned

How Long Can You Be Held After an Arrest?

In Arizona, as well as in many other states, there is a limit of 48 hours after an arrest before formal charges have to be filed.

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Police Harassment or Important City Safety Tactics?

Police Harassment or Important City Safety Tactics?

stop-and-frisk-blog-postThis is a guest post from Phil Balbo.

Controversial “stop-and-frisk” practices, widely criticized as unfairly, even illegally, targeting minorities, are being scrutinized more closely thanks to a new smartphone app that allows those witnessing what they believe to police harassment to record and send what they’ve seen to one of several civil liberties unions. Not surprisingly, law enforcement is critical of this new technology, arguing that it may actually increase crime, as some individuals will more easily discern and avoid the focus of police activity. Others argue that it may be a violation of privacy rights in recording, without permission, those stopped by law enforcement.

In my opinion, some of these issues may be dealt with quiet easily. If for example, identities of those recorded can obscured, perhaps via face blur technology, anonymity can be preserved. But such an issue may really prove irrelevant in the end, as expectations of privacy in the public sphere are eroding somewhat to begin with: think city cams, satellite captures, Google imaging, and more. That being said, none of these necessarily capture individuals in the midst of a police stop. But if these “stop and frisk” images and recordings are being used for “good,” and without names or other identifying information attached, and, further, in a very limited manner—can’t an argument be made that they’re in the public interest? Don’t cameras mounted on police cruiser dashboards also capture images of those detained by law enforcement?

So just what are these stop and frisk practices? In New York City, they amount to the ability of law enforcement to stop and search anyone presumed to be engaged in suspicious activity, and, last year alone, police made nearly 700,000 such stops, typically involving persons from ethnic minority background. The majority of these stops found no contraband or ultimately discerned any illegal activity.

Rights groups have come out in force against the practices, which they say amount to ethnic and racial profiling, as well as police harassment. Especially troubling is that there seems to be no established definition for perceived “suspicious behavior”—it seems that anything might trigger a police stop, and this is what is particularly disturbing to civil rights activists: These often unfounded stops, based on nothing more than an observance of, say, shifty glances or patterns of movement, recall the harassment of blacks in the South during the Jim Crow era, or the targeting of immigrants in, for example, Arizona.

Many civil rights and criminal defense attorneys agree that these programs, designed to stop crime before it starts, are overbearing and a violation of constitutional principles. In an attempt to counter such suggestions, Mayor Bloomberg himself recently addressed the congregation of a predominantly black church in a high-crime Brooklyn neighborhood. Bloomberg pointed to a reduction in minority on minority crime, and delivered statistics backing up his arguments that lives in communities such as the one he addressed have been saved as a result of the aggressive police program. Community leaders appreciate the reduction in crime, but continue to take issue with what they view to be an overly harsh implementation of the program.

As arguments on both sides continue to unfold, it remains to be seen what the fate of the program will be, and how it might be restructured in order to address concerns of profiling and harassment. Meanwhile, leadership in other communities around the nation riddled with crime anticipate the outcome as one that may be instructive for implementation of the same in their towns.

Written by Phil Balbo. For more on possible racial profiling in traffic stops, please visit the ACLU home page.


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