Luring a minor is a severe sex crime that can result in a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. In the wake of allegations of luring a minor, you need to retain the services of an attorney without delay. Having an attorney who knows how local prosecutors and judges handle this type of charge can be invaluable.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we truly understand the stress and trauma of being under investigation or arrest as a suspect in a sex crime involving a minor. If there is no way to have the alleged luring of a minor charge dropped, our attorneys can do their best to convince the judge to reduce the charge to a lighter or less severe charge.
Understanding Luring a Minor Crime
The crime of luring a minor is defined under the Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-3554. According to this law, you commit this crime when you lure, ask for, solicit, or offer sexual conduct or acts with someone while knowing or under a reasonable belief that he/she is a minor (under 18). Examples of acts that can attract a charge under this statute include:
- Texting an under-18 and asking him/her to meet up at a private place to have sex
- Offering sexual favors to a minor on an online dating site or chat room
- Emailing a sexually explicit image to a minor and asking whether he/she wants to "act it" or try it out
The "reasonable belief" part in this law is vital because the prosecutor presiding over your case can convict you for ARS 13-3554 violation, even if the "minor" in question was not someone under 18. Generally speaking, most arrests and charges for luring a minor occur following a "sex sting operation" by law enforcement officers.
A sex sting operation typically involves an undercover officer posing as a young boy or girl online to engage in compromising chats or conversations with potential child sexual predators. That means you cannot challenge the alleged charges by arguing that the individual you were chatting with or speaking with was not a minor.
What matters when accused of an ARS 13-3554 violation charge is whether or not you had a reasonable belief that the undercover police officer was a minor. The court will consider the entire situation and review your conversation with the undercover police to determine whether or not you had the criminal intent to lure or solicit a minor for sexual acts.
Rely on your defense attorney during the entire prosecution process to provide defenses that can work to give a favorable outcome.
Securing a Jail Release After an Arrest for an Alleged ARS 13-3554 Violation Charge
Securing a jail release once the police arrest you for an alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge or any other crime is not a walk in the park like most people assume. Once you are in the police station, the booking officer in charge will take you through the booking process where he/she will:
- Record the alleged charge, your legal name, and date of birth
- Search your body for foreign objects or illegal drugs
- Take your mugshot
- Confiscate your belongings, including belt, jewelry, bag, and clothing
After the booking process, the officer will lock you in a detention facility until you pay your bail. Bail is typically the money that allows you to be released from jail, pending trial. If the alleged ARS 13-3554 charge has a predetermined bail, you can bail yourself out of jail immediately after the booking process to obtain the deserved freedom.
Depending on the facts of the alleged charges, the officers could also decide to hold you in jail pending your case's arraignment or bail hearing, where a judge will determine whether you should remain in jail. At the bail hearing, the judge could decide to set bail on your case or not depending on the following factors:
- Whether you have community or family ties
- The facts of the alleged charges
- The available evidence against you
- Your history of appearing to court after a release on bail
- Whether you are a legal resident or alien
- Your mental condition
When the court sets your bail, you should do whatever is necessary to pay it as soon as possible. While you have a legal right to post bail using cash or equivalent assets, most defendants or arrestees cannot afford to do so.
Since staying in jail is not an option upon arrest for any alleged offense, most defendants work with bail bond agencies or agents to solve this predicament and obtain their freedom without delay. A bond agent is an individual or a representative of an agency who provides bail bond services to defendants who cannot afford bail or are unwilling to spend their money on bail upon an arrest.
In exchange for the much-needed bail bond services, you will pay the agent a non-refundable ten percent of your total court-set bail as his/her services' fee. To qualify for a bail bond, you must promise in writing that you will appear on all your court-scheduled hearing dates to challenge the luring alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.
When you fail to adhere to the required conditions of your jail release, including returning to court to prove your innocence, the court will forfeit your bail. When that happens, the bond agent will be liable to pay the court your full bail amount.
For that reason, most agents will require valuable collateral from you, your friend, or your relative on top of the ten percent fee to give you a reason to appear on court dates as required. The agent will accept any valuable assets or property as collateral, including:
- Valuable jewelry
- Apartments or houses
It is worth noting bail money is refundable when you abide by the required rules and conditions of your jail release, pending your trial date. Your attorney will let you know what you can do and not after obtaining your freedom on bail to avoid a re-arrest and more severe consequences on the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.
The Impact of ARS 13-705 on the Alleged Luring a Minor Charge Under ARS 13-3554
Also known as Dangerous Crimes Against Children Law (DCAC), ARS 13-705 establishes a unique sentencing structure for defendants guilty of specific offenses against children. The alleged luring of a minor charge under ARS 13-3554 would qualify as a DCAC if:
- An actual minor is involved or lured and not an undercover police officer
- The minor was fifteen (15) years old or younger
If that is the case, a conviction will result in enhanced mandatory penalties, even if it is your first offense or conviction. Typically, a first-time conviction for a DCAC offense, like the ARS 13-3554 violation conviction, will attract a minimum prison sentence of five (5) years.
However, the presumptive penalty for this crime is ten (10) years, and the maximum prison time is fifteen (15) years. When you have a prior felony conviction on your record, a second-time conviction for luring a minor as a DCAC offense will attract a jail time ranging from eight (8) to twenty-two (22) years.
A conviction for the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation offense as a DCAC crime also makes you ineligible for probation, meaning you spend your sentence in jail for the maximum time required for this charge.
Standard Penalties for the Alleged ARS 13-3554 Violation Charge Conviction
If the minor or child involved is between the age of fifteen (15) years to seventeen (17) years, the prosecutor will file your case as a Class three (3) felony. The penalties you are likely to face upon conviction for an ARS 13-3554 violation will depend on how many prior convictions you have on your record and the minor's age.
A conviction for the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge will result in the following probable penalties:
- First-time felony conviction – Incarceration in the state prison for three (3) to seven (7) years
- Second-time felony conviction – Detention in the state prison for three (3) to sixteen (16) years
- Third-time felony conviction – Seven (7) to twenty-five (25) years of prison time
As mentioned in the previous section, the prosecutor will file your case as a DCAC offense if the involved minor or victim is below fifteen (15) years old. In that case, the sentence you will face upon conviction under ARS 13-705 will be harsher.
The Impact of Inclusion in the Sex Offender Registry Upon a Conviction Under ARS 13-3554
On top of the jail time and possible $150,000 maximum fine, a conviction for the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge will require you to register with the sex offender registry. A sex offender registry is typically a list or database maintained by the DPS (Department of Public Safety) for people with specific severe sex crime convictions on their record.
ARS 13-3821 makes it mandatory for specific sex offenders to register as sex offenders after inclusion in the national sex offender registry. You have ten (10) days after your jail release to register as a sex offender with the nearest law enforcement authority or agency in your city or town.
The registration will cost you a fee of $250 and will require you to provide various information, including:
- All your names and aliases
- Electronic fingerprints
- A current photograph
- Mailing Address
- DNA evidence
You must re-register every year after your inclusion in the sex offender registry to confirm your initial registration details. The purpose of inclusion in the sex offender registry is to:
- Help law enforcement officers monitor and track convicted sex offenders
- Notify the public or the community of the location of particular convicted sex offenders
In addition to the tiresome yearly re-registration duties, inclusion in the registry could impact your life's quality in the following ways:
- Moving to a new neighborhood will be difficult because you have to notify neighbors, certain community groups, and the president of schools when you change your address
- Maintaining your employment or securing a new job will be difficult, especially if your career involves working with children or vulnerable adults
It is important to note that failing to re-register as a sex offender as required upon jail release is also a chargeable and punishable crime under ARS 13-3824. According to this statute, failing to meet your registration duties is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to one (1) year in jail.
Legal Defenses to the Alleged ARS 13-3554 Violation Charge
A skilled and seasoned defense attorney can apply various legal defenses and arguments to challenge the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge for a desirable outcome. Some of the defenses that could work to your advantage to obtain a less severe charge or dismissal of the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Mistaken Belief of the Minor's Age
Since you are only guilty of an ARS 13-3554 violation if you had a reason to believe that the person was a minor, a mistaken belief of the minor's age could apply as a legal defense to challenge the accused charge.
While arguing that the alleged minor or victim was an adult is not an acceptable defense for this charge, your attorney can argue that you had reason to believe he/she was an adult for the best possible outcome. For example, if the person you were chatting with online informed you that he or she is nineteen years old, the court could consider this defense viable.
- You Did Not Solicit or Offer Sexual Acts to the Alleged Person
Recall that a person is only guilty under ARS 13-3554 if he/she solicited or offered sexual acts to a minor during their conversation or chats. That means your attorney can challenge the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge by arguing that your reasons for asking to meet the minor were not sexual.
- You are a Victim of Entrapment
According to ARS 13-206, entrapment could be a viable defense to challenge a criminal accusation or charge, depending on the circumstances of your unique case. In the case of the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge, your defense attorney must provide clear evidence to show that you were a victim of entrapment, even though the allegations you are facing are true.
The court could consider this a viable defense to the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge if your attorney can prove the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Law enforcement officers initiated the idea of committing the crime and not you
- The officers induced or urged you to commit the crime
- You were not predisposed to commit the crime before the officers induced and urged you to do so
A skilled defense attorney will use the conduct or behavior of the investigating officers to prove that you were a victim of entrapment for a desirable outcome on the alleged charge.
- There Were Search and Seizure Violations
If the arresting officers did not have a search warrant or otherwise conducted an unlawful search on your person or premises, the evidence obtained from the search would be inadmissible in court. That means the court will not consider this particular evidence viable to convict you for the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.
- Your Confession Was Forced or Coerced
Your attorney can also argue that your confession was forced or coerced to obtain a favorable outcome. If the investigating or arresting officers coerced you to confess or reveal incriminating evidence, the court could reduce or drop the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.
- You are a Victim of False Accusations
As with most sex crimes, the charge of luring a minor under ARS 13-3554 is ripe for false accusations or allegations because it does involve witnesses in most cases. That is possible when a minor is coerced or coached by someone with revengeful intent to testify that you did engage in conduct or behaviors that you did not.
If the court finds these defense arguments viable and reasonable, he/she will dismiss or reduce the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.
Other Offenses Related to the Alleged ARS 13-3554 Violation Charge
Depending on the circumstances and facts of the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation case, the prosecutor could pursue any of the following related charges against you:
- Child Pornography
If the prosecutor's evidence is insufficient to prove your guilt under ARS 13-3554, he/she could file child pornography charges against you under ARS 13-3553. A conviction under this statute could result in up to ten (10) years in prison.
- Molestation of a Child
Molestation of a child is another common offense related to the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge. According to ARS 13-1410, you commit this offense when you knowingly and intentionally engage in or perhaps cause another person to engage in sexual contact with a minor aged fifteen (15) years or below. A conviction under this statute will attract a jail sentence of up to thirty-five (35) years.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
As you can see above, luring a minor is a severe offense that can significantly jeopardize your reputation and future. We invite you to contact our law firm, Phoenix Criminal Attorney, at 602-551-8092, for additional legal guidance or to discuss the alleged case with a reliable defense attorney.
Our credible and seasoned attorneys have the necessary legal knowledge and resources to help you fight for a favorable outcome on the alleged ARS 13-3554 violation charge.