If you’ve ever tried to go without technology for an extended period of time, you know how integral it has become in all aspects of our lives. From picking out restaurants, googling pressing questions, to catching up with long lost friends, social media and various apps help make life so much easier. With all of that ease and luxury, it’s hard to think of the internet as a space for criminal activity, or a place that could catastrophically change your life forever. However, for many people we see on a regular basis, it was the ease and anonymity that lured them into the illegal portions of the internet, and the serious consequences that resulted were unlike anything they could have imagined. Today, we’d like to outline some of the ways that the use of internet sites and apps can result in criminal charges. As always, we do not condone any type of illegal activity, but we are here if you or someone you know find themselves facing these types of charges.
• Dating Apps: Dating apps are fun and intended for those single individuals who don’t want to wait to find a significant other in line at Starbucks or out walking their dog, and with more apps becoming available, online dating is becoming more popular than ever! However, what’s not as fun is the fact that many dating apps are used for illegal activity. For instance, apps like Tindr, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, Grindr, Adam4Adam, Match.com, Zoosk, and others, are populous with people who appear to be law abiding, but ultimately are there to seek or offer illegal services. It’s important to remember that undercover officers could be posing as either prostitutes and/or as minors and could be looking for people seeking illegal sex acts. It’s also important to remember that seeking sex for money through these apps could yield plenty of other criminal charges, as these are random strangers that cannot be counted on to be law abiding citizens.
• Backpage and Craigslist: We’ve done a lot of articles and videos about these types of sites, and it all comes down to a bottom line: assume everyone behind the screen is an undercover officer. Individuals never know if they’re part of some organized sting operation. Sting operations on these sites dredge up many different types of sex crimes, including prostitution, solicitation, bestiality, child prostitution, trafficking stolen property, and other serious charges. Many of the aforementioned crimes carry hefty sentences and long probation terms. All of these crimes can arise from the use of Backpage and Craigslist and other similar sites by law enforcement as part of sting operations. It is very important to understand the magnitude of these offenses and be careful when going online for illegal sex acts.
• Harassment: Individuals who are either making threats or violating orders of protection on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media sites are liable to face criminal charges. Specifically, if an individual is required to refrain from contacting another individual by the conditions of their release or by an order of protection, it is important not to contact them or any of their family and/or friends via social media. The prosecution is constantly checking social media sites and staying up-to-date with the victims of their cases. If an individual is out of custody pending the resolution of his/her case, and his/her release conditions consist of not contacting a certain individual, and the state discovers they have been contacting that individual over the internet, he/she can be placed back into custody and can be held non-bondable. The State and the Court takes these crimes very seriously, and it is easy to access potential incriminating information, even if it’s deleted. Therefore, be extremely careful what you’re posting online and who you’re contacting, and if you’re ever wondering whether you should contact an individual, consult with an attorney, or better yet, err on the side of caution and don’t contact.
• Revenge Porn: Individuals who receive pornographic images, even if they were provided by the subject willingly, have to be careful with the images. Sending and/or spreading those images is a crime. Sending those images to people as a means of punishment or harassment is an even heftier crime. If the subject is under age 18, the individual could face sexual exploitation of a minor charges. This is a very serious crime that often people do not consider due to the normalization of “sending nudes,” especially with individuals in high school. Parents should be particularly cautious about what their children are sending, viewing, and receiving.
• Child Pornography: In Arizona, each image of child pornography downloaded carries a sentence of ten years. Often, prosecutors charge separate counts for each image of child pornography, which results in an exposure up to 100 years in prison. It is important to know what’s at stake when zip files are downloaded from pornography sites, as some zip files could contain illegal videos without an individual’s knowledge.
We’ve gone over very serious charges that aren’t always at the forefront of discussion about how technology has changed our lives over the years. Technology is wonderful in this day and age for keeping people informed, so stay informed by following Castillo Law before you embark on something that could lead to criminal charges. We’ll keep you updated with all of the latest in criminal defense law in Arizona. If you or someone you know is in need of an attorney, please call us at 480-206-5204. We are available 24/7 and look forward to your call.