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Sex Crime

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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What to do if You Are Arrested for a Felony in Arizona

What to do if You Are Arrested for a Felony in Arizona

If you have been arrested in Arizona for a felony charge, it is vital that you understand your rights. A felony conviction can have significant consequences and may result in revocation of certain rights. Rights such as the right to vote and to possess a firearm. Because of this, you should be mindful of your rights and should contact an Arizona defense attorney as soon as possible.

What are some of Your Rights after you are Arrested for a Felony?

After you are placed under arrest for a felony offense, you have certain constitutional rights that are intended to protect your interests. These rights include the following:

The right to remain silent

  • The right to remain silent: After you are arrested, you are under no obligation to speak with law enforcement about the event. Police officers are often well-trained in interrogation tactics and will seek to obtain information that could be used against you in court. The prosecution frequently relies upon admissions made by defendants or inferences that can be drawn from statements that are made. To protect yourself and to limit disclosure of information, you should exercise your right to remain silent, at least until such time that you have legal representation present.

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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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AP Interviews Criminal Defense Attorney David Michael Cantor Regarding Kavanaugh Case

Rachel Mitchell - AP News

Article Provided by: AP News
Date: 9/26/18

PHOENIX (AP) — A sex-crimes prosecutor tapped by Senate Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about allegations of sexual assault could have a tough time in such a contentious political environment, Arizona attorneys who know her said Wednesday.

But her boss says Rachel Mitchell is a hard-hitting attorney who is used to handling high-profile cases and is one of the few prosecutors in the country with a deep understanding of working with sexual abuse victims.

Mitchell, a Republican, was expected to question Kavanaugh and the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her when they were teenagers has raised a political storm in the #MeToo era, and the GOP’s all-male presence on the panel made some want a woman to question Ford.

Mitchell is chief of the Special Victims Division in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Phoenix. She supervises attorneys who handle cases involving child molestation, sexual assault and computer crimes against children in Arizona’s most populous county.

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What are the Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Felony Class Types in Arizona

There are six levels of felony classes in Arizona. Each class has its own guidelines for punishment if convicted. When looking at sentencing, the law presumes that everyone will start at the presumptive sentence however, this sentence can be increased or decreased if mitigating or aggravating factors are found by the Judge or jury. The following sentencing ranges apply to a person with no prior felony convictions.

  • Class 1 – The only crime that falls under a Class 1 felony is murder. Murder charges are divided into two categories: First or Second Degree. First degree murder is punishable by the death penalty or by life in prison without parole. Second degree murder requires a minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to a maximum sentence of 25 years.
  • Class 2 – A Class 2 felony allows for a minimum sentence in the Department of Corrections of three years. This can be increased to up to 12.5 years for aggravated. Probation, with up to one year in jail, is also available.
  • Class 3 – Class 3 felonies allows for a minimum of two years in prison with an aggravated sentence of up to 8.75 years. Probation is also available.
  • Class 4– If sentenced to prison on a Class 4 felony, you face anywhere between 1 to 3.75 years. Again, probation is available.
  • Class 5 – A Class 5 felony provides for a minimum of six months in prison however, can be increased to up to 2.5 years. Probation is available.
  • Class 6 – Although a Class 6 felony, an example could be a DUI in Phoenix, also allows for a probation sentence, if sentenced to prison the range allows for anywhere between .33 – 2 years.

(more…)


Pre-charge Investigation Stage Cases

‘Pre-charge’, also called the ‘Investigation Stage’ of a criminal case is the stage when someone is under observation for a criminal offense, but no formal action has been taken. When someone is involved in such a situation, it can have a significant negative impact on different areas of their life. This initial state precedes any formal charges. Usually, a person is considered to be involved in a pre-charge stage when they have been arrested by the law enforcement and have been questioned, but later released without facing any charges. This means that the person stands in imminent danger of getting arrested anytime if police find any evidence against them.

Even if the person has not been convicted, the arrest itself may be recorded and documented, which can have a negative impact on their personal life. Their story may make it to the newspaper headline, or it may be put up on any of the news reporting websites. The individual is stuck in the pre-charge stage after being arrested, until they are actually charged with the crime. Anyone who has been arrested in connection to a crime but was later released without charges, is advised to consult a qualified criminal defense attorney. (more…)


New Evidence Leads to Dismissal of Child Sex Abuse Charges

With trial scheduled to begin only nine days later, charges of child sex abuse against Robert Koenig, 63, were dismissed at the prosecution’s request, motivated by the discovery of new evidence following Mr. Koenig’s indictment some six months earlier.

Mr. Koenig faced two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of rape under that indictment. Those charges stemmed from Koenig’s role as a foster parent, a role he and his wife had shared for five years by the time Mr. Koenig was first charged.

When it learned of the abuse allegations, the official licensing agency, Lucas County Children Services, began the process of removing the Koenigs from the foster care program. The Koenigs, however, withdrew voluntarily before that removal process was completed.

Robert Koenig - Public PhotoMr. Koenig had been a teacher for the Toledo Public Schools from 1975 to 2010, spending most of his career in middle schools. He worked as a substitute teacher in that school system for three years until his retirement in 2013.

According to Frank Spryszak, the assistant county prosecutor who sought the dismissal, his action was driven by the discovery of new evidence “that put us in a position that we no longer felt that we had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.”

Lorin Zaner, the attorney defending Mr. Koenig, describes himself as a leading child sexual conduct with a minor lawyer with a particular interest in false abuse allegations. He said that the dismissal came as a great relief to his client. “We had the documentation to show that there’s no way our guy could’ve done what they said,” he said.

At the same time, he called attention to the negative consequences of the allegations for Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, a state of affairs that may be familiar to him as a sex crimes lawyer. “They truly had a desire to help children. To be in a position of being falsely accused because you put yourself out there to help children is a tragedy because these are good people. Their names are drug through the mud. Why do you want to put yourself in that position? It’s terrible.”

Mr. Koenig had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he had been released on $300,000 bond after appearing before Court of Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks, the same judge who later heard the prosecution’s request to dismiss all charges.

(more…)


The Dangers of File Sharing and Peer to Peer Networks

File sharing has been a big part of the counter-culture of legal and illegal music and movie downloads in the United States. Many file sharing programs that allowed the free flow of copyrighted files like Limewire, Napster, Bearshare, Frostwire, and the like have long been shut down by the U.S. Government (or switched their business models), but new software springs up all the time. For example, as soon as Limewire was shut down, Frostwire came out and today the most prevelant Peer to Peer software of today is bit Torrent. The cycle keeps repeating as bit torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, and others have faced government seizures of their physical servers located in other countries. The government may not be able to completely shut down all of the file-sharing software as it continues to morph into different models that make it undetectable. Many people praise these programs as means to download and own files for free that they would otherwise have to pay for, but what these people don’t realize is the inherent danger of downloading files from anonymous sources and sharing the same files out to strangers: namely, child pornography.

Helpful Link > Click the following links to view our Child Pornography Case Victories and view all of our Arizona Sex Crime Victories.

Here is a graphic showing the old way file sharing networks worked by each user connecting through a centralized server which is how the government was able to stop them, by legally choking off the central server:

(Images Courtesy of Vuze.com)

File Sharing Networks

And here is a graphic showing bit Torrent Peer to Peer networks where the user downloads and opens a torrent file which then connects the user to the peers who are seeding the files:

Peer to Peer Networks

One of the most important issues among the file sharing community in recent years has been the prosecutions relating to the possession and distribution of child pornography. Many of the defendants that have hired a child pornography lawyer in these cases said that they were not even aware of the images that were stored on their computers. Images of child porn can be downloaded to your computer through a series of Trojan horses or by blindly downloading an entire directory that is shared with you through one of these peer to peer services. One common method of sharing child porn is the intentional mislabeling of filenames. For example, you may download a video named “Die Hard” thinking that you are getting a movie about Bruce Willis. Upon download, you might open the file and instead of finding a movie you find that it is actually hundreds or thousands of images of child pornography. Images of child porn are sometimes inserted into otherwise normal video files and may even go unnoticed by the person downloading the file. This example proves that you cannot be sure what is actually contained in the files you are downloading, which increases the risk of using any peer to peer file sharing software or methods. Remember, there is no file certification process since most of these files (movies, ebooks, software, etc) are being downloaded and shared illegally.

The most common way people are convicted of possession of child pornography, is by their permanent storage on your hard drive even after deleting it in several locations. With file sharing programs, the downloaded files go automatically into two folders: “Saved” and “Shared”. A third folder is created for “Incomplete or Temp Files” that a lot of people are unaware of. Files are labeled incomplete when they are deleted halfway through. You may not even be able to open these files, but the government can, and will attempt to prosecute and convict you for the possession of illegal images of children regardless of the folder they reside in.

The second charge of distribution of child pornography comes when you allow the program to share your files with other users. You may be doing this unknowingly as most file-sharing programs select this sharing option as a default setting. Even if you are unaware that the files you are sharing contain child porn, this act of sharing constitutes distribution.

So how does law enforcement track the child porn files? The government tracks files and images of child porn by looking at hash values. A hash value is the number of pixels a file contains. The government and law enforcement often knows the hash value of popular or commonly-shared child porn images. Any time that file is shared or downloaded; the government is alerted to the IP address of the user. They thereby obtain a search warrant and go about finding said files on your computer, upon which they arrest the user.

There are conspiracy theories out there that the government uses images of child porn to set people up for conviction. People use this to explain the surge of conviction among political rivals and other important people in society. This ruins their reputation and labels them a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Though this rumor does not have much traction, it is wise to avoid the possibility altogether by abstaining from P2P file sharing sites.

Here is a video David Michael Cantor made when Limewire was in the news in Oct 2010:

Every state in the US has laws regarding the possession and distribution of child pornography. For example, here in Arizona the law is A.R.S §13-3553 Sexual Exploitation of a Minor” (i.e. “Child Pornography”) and it is a class two (2) felony.  In Arizona, the minimum prison term is 10 years per image, if convicted. If you are facing child pornography charges, it’s a good idea to find yourself a defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases and also works with a good computer forensics expert.

If you have legal questions about Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Child Pornography possession and distribution, please give our office a call at (602) 307-0808. If you are in the pre-charge phase or have already been charged, please call us for a free case review. The free consultation will last about 30 minutes and one of our defense attorneys will give you their professional opinion with your case.


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