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Nov 30, 2019

Is Prostitution Illegal? Do You Need a Lawyer if Accused of Soliciting One?

The legality of prostitution is handled at the state level, and currently, only the state of Nevada deems it to be somewhat legal. This means that unless you’re specifically in a brothel in Nevada, it’s illegal. While soliciting for prostitution is illegal, it’s important to understand what exactly defines solicitation, as it can help make or break a case against you. For example, websites like this one, which advertises NYC escorts, could be considered an illegal website.

Solicitation

Solicitation, by definition, is when either a prostitute advertises his or her services for compensation, or when a potential customer offers to pay for sex. Solicitation is a specific intent crime, so simple displays, availability, and common communication are not enough to make a case. The charged party must be openly seeking to engage in prostitution for a conviction to stick.

Specific Intent and How it Applies

In order to be convicted, the prosecution must show that there was a serious intent to exchange sexual services for some kind of money. This means that you can’t be convicted of solicitation based on jokingly offering services you never intended to follow through with. Specific Intent is generally proven based on the circumstances surrounding the case. For example, offering to pay cash for sexual acts is typically enough to prove solicitation.

This is where things get a little tricky though, as the prosecution doesn’t have to show or prove the specific offer that was made. Simply providing a list of services and corresponding prices, or for the two to negotiate a price is often enough. It also doesn’t matter which party initiated the deal either, as anyone who simply makes an offer can be convicted.

Building a Defense

The defense for solicitation hinges heavily on the intent to commit a crime, in this case, prostitution. If an individual has not gone through with the agreement, recanting can be a good way to help their case. Recanting is essentially when the agreeing party calls off the deal. This mostly applies before being accused and or arrested. Other defenses include that they did not commit the act, or that there was no criminal intent prior to committing the act. The latter defense can apply to instances where there was no discussion of payment prior to the act. Solicitation laws can also vary slightly from state to state, so it is highly recommended you retain an attorney to help your defense.

Consequences

The solicitation of a prostitute is often considered a misdemeanor except under specific circumstances (either repeat offenders or in the event that the accused knowingly had HIV). Generally, sentencing for solicitation includes:

Jail time:
This can be anywhere from up to 30 days for first offenders, to upwards of 1 year for felony cases. Jail time involved can be highly dependant on the circumstances of the case.

Fines:
Fines also range from $100 to well into the thousands depending on the severity of the charges. The defense is also required to pay the prosecution’s legal fees, further compounding things.

Probation:
The courts may also sentence someone convicted to a probationary period. This period generally lasts at a minimum of 12 months and has a few specific conditions set by the court. These conditions include committing no other crimes in the 12 month period, not associating with other known criminals or prostitutes, paying all the required fees and fines, and oftentimes a certain amount of community service. It may also require mental or marital counseling.

While the legal consequences can be fairly minor depending on the severity of the charges, there are other unrelated consequences which can be absolutely devastating. Simply being convicted of solicitation can have an extremely damaging effect on one’s reputation, destroy marriage’s and friendships, and cause countless other problems even if a person is never actually convicted of the charges. Getting the situation under control and getting legal advice is the most important step to ensuring your life remains as relatively stable as possible. Police can also arrest for solicitation with surprisingly thin evidence, so having legal counsel who is familiar with local police, judges, and knows their way around the local court systems is an advantage you really can’t afford to not have.

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