Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor

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Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per A.R.S. 13-3506 and A.R.S. 13-3506.01, Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor occurs when a person either knowingly or recklessly furnishes or provides and makes available to a minor a harmful or obscene item.  A.R.S. 13-3506 applies to items that are provided in any manner other than the internet.  For example, if an adult provides a DVD or magazines of pornography to a minor, this would be in violation with the statute if it was done knowingly.

It would also be punishable as a Class 4 felony. Per A.R.S. 13-3506.01, a person would violate this statute if they knowingly or recklessly provided pornography to a minor via the internet.  It is also required that the material was posted in Arizona or was meant to be received in Arizona in order to fall under this statute.  Either violation is a Class 4 felony and failure to report a violation of this statute is a Class 6 felony.

We most often see this charge arise in context with either a parent discovering that their child had been sent images or an undercover officer (posing as a minor) who solicits a Defendant to send pornographic images.  The second scenario is very troubling and offers many defenses.

Possible Punishment for Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor

If you were charged and convicted of Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor, you can be sentenced to a Class 4 felony.  This involves the possibility of prison with a super-mitigated term of 1 year in prison, a presumptive term of 2.5 years in prison and an aggravated term of 3.75 years in prison.  In addition, the judge may choose to sentence a person to probation, which can involve jail time from zero days up to 1 year in jail.  If sentenced to probation and jail, it is possible to obtain a work furlough which would allow a person to be released five days a week to go to and from work or school.

If a person fails to report a violation on the internet, this can be charged as a Class 6 felony.  A Class 6 felony includes a super-mitigated term of 4 months in prison, a presumptive term of 1 year in prison and an aggravated term of 2 years in the Department of Corrections.  Again, the judge may choose to sentence a person to probation with anywhere from zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail.

Possible Defenses for Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor

If a person provides a video or magazines to a minor in person, then one of the most common defenses is that the Defendant did not know the minor was, in fact, under 18 years of age.  Another defense is that the Defendant did not knowingly provide the materials to a minor.  In other words, the minor simply got onto their computer or into their collection of pornography and viewed it themselves.  This is when the state most often charges “recklessly” providing materials to a minor.  This is a very defensible scenario and we have seen tremendous success in defending “reckless” allegations.

In regard to providing materials on the internet, one of the most common cases we see are “sting operations” which involve an undercover officer posing as a child.  This usually starts with an undercover officer being in an adult chat room and claiming they are 18 years of age.  Once a conversation has begun, they then send photos to a person usually over 18 years of age, and then say they are actually underage and are looking to “have some fun.”  The conversations then turn sexual in nature and the officers often solicit images be sent to them.  Once that occurs, they attempt to charge that person with Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor and will then attempt to set up a meeting place in order to add the additional charge of “luring a minor for sexual purposes.” Additionally, the Arizona State Legislature has provided in A.R.S. 13-3506.01 (C) A.R.S. 13-3506.01 (C) that “it is not a defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section that the recipient of the transmission was a peace officer posing a minor.”  This still does not sit well with most jurors considering the police are basically patrolling the internet to create criminals through “quasi-entrapment” techniques.

One of the largest defenses to this charge is when multiple people have access to the same computer.  We see this with Defendant’s who have multiple roommates, dorm-mates, fraternity houses, etc.  It is hard to prove the Defendant was the actual one that sent the transmission if his/her computer is either not password-protected or if all the roommates know the password.  It obviously becomes more difficult if the officer tricks the Defendant into showing up at a location and they are arrested in person.  Again, it is still possible to make great headway with the prosecution regarding this “quasi-entrapment” technique, which is frowned upon by most jurors.

Additionally, because our law firm fights convictions from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and challenges regarding constitutional violations which can apply in all criminal cases.  The possibilities are numerous and diverse.  One defense we frequently assert is a “Miranda Rights Violation.”  In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement, (i.e., a statement which intends to admit guilt) is only admissible into evidence based upon a “voluntariness” standard.  If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or an inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read your Miranda rights, we can then suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.  In addition, “Denial of Right to Counsel,” is another common defense which is often raised.  This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied that request and the questioning continues.

Other defenses which can be used in more serious cases may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any forensic flaws during the investigation of your case.  Depending on what else you have been charged with, this includes exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, urine testing; finger-print analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gun-shot residue testing; computer analysis/cloning hard-drive procedures; forensic and financial accounting reviews; etc.

Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which includes everything from misstatements, false statements and flawed photo lineups to witness identification procedures and inaccurate crime-scene reconstruction.

It is important to hire the right Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor defense attorney in order to have these serious criminal sexual allegations greatly reduced or dismissed.  We have handled hundreds of cases such as these and have had them successfully defended.  Visit our case victories pages and click on Furnishing Harmful or Obscene Materials to a Minor to view our most recent wins.

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