CHILD LURING (ARS 13-3554)
Whether you were arrested as part of a child sex sting or after an allegation from a child or their parent, child luring is a serious crime and the punishment can be severe. If you are facing a child luring charge, find out what defenses may be available and what can be done to protect your rights. Speak to an experienced sex crimes lawyer at Feldman & Royle.
CHILD LURING DEFINITION
Child luring for sexual exploitation, or simply child luring is a serious felony under Arizona law. Set forth in ARS 13-3554, the child luring definition requires making an offer or solicitation for sexual conduct with a person who you know or have reason to believe, is a minor.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is no defense that the person solicited is in fact not a minor, a factor that is explored more fully below in the discussion about undercover stings.
Child luring is a class 3 felony.
AGGRAVATED CHILD LURING (ARS 13-3560)
Aggravated child luring pursuant to ARS 13-3560 requires the prosecutor to prove both that a person:
1) Transmitted electronically one or more visual depictions of material that is harmful to minors in order to initiate or engage in communication with a person you believe is a minor, and
2) Utilized the material to offer or solicit sexual conduct with the minor. The offer or solicitation may occur before, during or after the transmission.
Material is “harmful to minors” when, under ARS 13-3501(1), the description or representation:
- Appeals to the prurient interest (meaning have an excessive interest in sexual matters), based upon the average adult utilizing contemporary community standards when applied to minors; and
- Is patently offensive.
Aggravated child luring is a class 2 felony.
Aggravated child luring may also be charged as a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC) when the alleged victim is under 15. Crimes charged under DCAC carry enhanced penalties.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As with child luring, it is no defense that the victim is not actually a minor.
IMPORTANT TERMS & CONCEPTS
The following terms and concepts are important to understand, particularly if you are facing a luring a minor charge:
Sexual conduct means sexual intercourse (oral, genital, or anal), bestiality, or sexual penetration by an object.
Arizona Age of Consent
Under ARS 13 1405, the Arizona age of consent is 18 years old. This means that a person under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult, and technically a juvenile for that matter could be in violation of the Arizona age of consent law.
Under ARS 13-1002 the solicitation definition requires that a person commands, encourages, requests or solicits another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute the felony or misdemeanor.
CHILD LURING SENTENCE
Not all luring of a minor charges carry the same penalties. The potential criminal sentence depends on whether the offense is aggravated, and the age of the minor involved. Child luring is a class 3 felony. Aggravated child luring, on the other hand, is a class 2 felony under Arizona law.
Child Luring (Minor at least 15 years old):
- A minimum of 2 years in prison and up to a maximum of 8.75 years in prison.
Child Luring (Minor under 15 years old – DCAC):
- A minimum of 5 years in prison and up to a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Aggravated Child Luring (Minor at least 15 years old):
- A minimum of 3 years in prison and up to a maximum of 12.5 years in prison.
Aggravated Child Luring (Minor under 15 years old – DCAC):
- A minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a maximum of 24 years in prison.
ADDITIONAL SENTENCING CONSIDERATIONS
A conviction for either luring a minor or aggravated luring requires mandatory registration as a sex offender and may be punishable under DCAC depending on the age of the minor.
Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC) ARS 13-705
If the minor involved in the luring of a minor is under 15, the defendant will be sentenced in accordance with ARS 13-705, relating to Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC).
Arizona’s dangerous crimes against children law pursuant to ARS 13-705, mandates that anyone convicted of certain enumerated crimes shall receive a harsher sentence and that probation is not available.
Arizona Sex Offender Registry
Whether the conviction is for child luring or aggravated child luring, placement on the Arizona sex offender registry will be required. Arizona sex offender laws pursuant to ARS 13 3821, require those convicted of child luring to register as a sex offender and be placed on the Arizona sex offender register.
Sex offender registration can also be required by the judge if you are convicted of a sexual offense under chapter 14 of title 13 (including child luring, sexual abuse, child molestation and statutory rape), and the judge determines that the crime was sexually motivated pursuant to ARS 13-118.
CHILD SEX STING
An undercover child sex sting can often play a unique role in the arrest of those suspected of child luring. In fact, in both child luring and aggravated child luring, it is not a defense that the alleged victim is not a minor. This is in the statute not so much to punish a defendant for his or her state of mind – thinking that they were luring a child – but to avoid a defense to a police sting aimed at child luring.
In Arizona it is common to be charged with luring and aggravated luring, based largely on internet exchanges between defendants and the alleged victims. Those “victims,” as in other cases, could well be adult police officers playing the role of a minor.
Similarly, in instances where there is actual face-to-face contact between the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator, the police will generally not use a minor in the operation. Instead, police often use a person who looks young enough to be mistaken as a minor. In either case, the law allows the police to operate the sting without coming up against a defense based on the actual age of person doing the soliciting.
While not a requirement under the law, police posing as minors will commonly ask that suspects meet at a certain location and often ask suspects to bring certain things. Common items requested by undercover agents include alcohol, sex toys or condoms. This technique is used to provide an act in furtherance of the crime of child luring as well as revealing their location in order to effectuate an arrest.
DEFENSES TO CHILD LURING CHARGES
There are numerous potential defenses to a child luring or aggravated child luring charge. These are in addition to defenses such as search and seizure violations, for example, which may apply to any criminal offense. Here are a couple of examples:
- Mistaken Belief of Age of Minor. While the fact that the alleged victim is an adult is not a defense to a child luring charge, a reasonable belief that the person is an adult may be a defense. The law requires that you know or have reason to believe that person is a minor. It is an essential element of the offense and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Entrapment. Under ARS 13-206, entrapment may, depending upon the circumstances, provide a defense to a criminal charge. In the case of child luring, the defense must show the crime was triggered by law enforcement personnel and or their agents, that they induced you to commit the offense, and that you were not predisposed to commit the offense prior to being induced to do so by the police. The burden is on the defendant to prove the defense of entrapment by clear and convincing evidence.
- Romeo and Juliet Law. Where the minor is at least 15 years of age, and the defendant is under the age of 19 or in high school and is no more than 24 months older than the victim, it is a defense to the charge of child luring.
- Coerced Confessions. Child luring cases often depend on a confession by the accused. Many times, these confessions are obtained only after intense interrogations. As such, attacking the reliability of a confession is paramount to a solid defense strategy.
- False Allegations. As is the case with many sex crimes, often times the accuser or a person close to them has a motivation to falsely accuse. Whether the accusation is coming from an ex-romantic partner or their child, if someone is falsely accused of statutory rape, identifying and investigating the allegation is an integral part of a well-established defense strategy.
- Lack of Physical Evidence. There may be no physical evidence of child luring that can link the defendant directly to the crime. This means that the entire case could hinge on the testimony of a victim or a witness which may be a complete fabrication of the truth.
- Illegally Obtained Evidence. Often times, evidence of child luring charges exist on cell phones and computers. Falsified search warrant affidavits and violations of search and seizure protocols may result in the suppression of physical evidence.
- Witness Credibility. Many child luring cases involve victims unknown to the defendant. Establishing and eroding the credibility of an eyewitness or victim’s testimony is an essential a part of an effective defense.
OTHER DISTINGUISHABLE SEX CRIMES
It is important to understand the unique differences between child luring and several other sex crimes that are commonly confused for and charged in addition to child luring.
Child Luring v. Child Prostitution
Child luring is the solicitation of the minor for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The essence of the charge is enticing the minor. While there is no specific law in Arizona called child prostitution, there are a number of statutes that deal with the issue.
Probably the closest to child prostitution is ARS 13-3213, which is “child sex trafficking.” The essence of this charge is causing the child to engage in prostitution, receiving any benefit from such activity, or engaging in prostitution with a minor under the age of 15, or a minor who you know or should know is 15, 16 or 17 years of age.
Child Luring v. Sexual Conduct with a Minor
Child luring requires only a finding that a person offers or solicits sexual conduct with a minor. Sexual conduct with a minor (child molestation) pursuant to ARS 13-1405, on the other hand, is when an adult engages in sexual intercourse with a minor.
Child Luring v. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor?
Sexual exploitation of a minor pursuant to ARS 13-3553, is the recording, filming, photographing of a minor engaged in sexual conduct – this crime is normally referred to as child pornography. Child luring requires only the offer or solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual conduct. However, the term sexual conduct may encompass the acts exhibited in child pornography.
SEX CRIMES ATTORNEY – PHOENIX, AZ
The laws governing sex crimes often overlap. This concept is particularly common amongst child sex crimes. If you have been charged with child luring, aggravated child luring, or any similar offense involving children, the potential sentence can, and usually will be, harsh.
You want to make sure that you retain a sex crimes attorney with the experience and knowledge to understand your case, analyze your options, and present the best possible defense. At Feldman & Royle, we know what you are going through as we have represented individuals charged throughout Arizona with all manner of sex crimes.
Call us to speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney today. We offer a free and confidential initial consultation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
It is also quite common for law enforcement to post fake ads for adult prostitution or escorting and then during the initial conversation reveal to the suspect via chat or text that the undercover is underage.
Law enforcement will normally ask the suspect to come to a certain location or reveal their whereabouts. This technique is used to provide an act in furtherance of the crime of child luring as well as revealing their location in order to effectuate an arrest.