In Florida, prostitution is illegal. As a result, an accusation of solicitation or other prostitution-related offenses can lead to severe criminal charges. So, if you have been recently arrested for one of these crimes, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer.
Florida does not take these offenses lightly, so even though they may not seem as serious as violent offenses, a conviction for soliciting or prostitution can lead to jail time, fines, community service, and civil penalties, among others punishments.
If you are facing a prostitution or solicitation charge, the St. Petersburg criminal attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can help you build your defense. Call us today to learn how we can help you.
Prostitution & Solicitation Definitions in Florida
Florida Uniform Crime Reports define prostitution as engaging or promoting sexual activities for profit. So, although usually people think that these charges are only associated with the sale and purchase of sexual activities, there are different actions that fall into these offenses.
Based on Florida Statute §796, the following unlawful activities can lead to a criminal charge:
- Owning, establishing or operating a place where prostitution is performed.
- Offering another person for the purpose of prostitution.
- Convincing or forcing a person to become a prostitute.
- Offering to commit or engage in prostitution.
- Receiving a person in a place for the purpose of prostitution.
- Soliciting, enticing or procuring a person to commit prostitution.
- Knowingly transporting or taking someone to a place to prostitute.
- Hiring a prostitute.
- Entering or residing in a place designated for prostitution.
- Renting a place to be used for prostitution.
- Knowingly live or derive support from a person engaged in prostitution.
- Aiding and abetting a person to commit any of the previous offenses.
When it comes to these crimes, the prosecution must be able to prove that you had the intent to engage in prostitution by either purchasing or offering the services for a profit. So even making an appointment or any action that encourages these activities can result in a prostitution or solicitation charge.
Charges & Penalties
In Florida, a charge for a prostitution or solicitation crime ranges from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Since subsequent offenses increase the punishment by one degree, these charges depend on the defendant’s prior convictions as well as the type of offense.
Penalty for prostitution in Florida
Below is a chart with the potential punishments for a first prostitution offense:
|Owning or operating a place designed for prostitution
|Offering another person for prostitution
|Purchasing a prostitute’s service
|Offering to commit or engage in prostitution
|Receiving a person in a place for the purpose of prostitution
|Entering or residing a place designed for prostitution
|Knowingly transporting or taking someone to a place to prostitute
|Transporting someone for the purpose of prostitution
|Renting a place for prostitution
|Convincing or forcing a person to become a prostitute
|Deriving support from a person engaged in prostitution
As mentioned before, subsequent offenses will increase the charges by one degree. So for example, people who are arrested and charged for the first time for engaging in prostitution will face a second-degree misdemeanor.
But, if they are arrested a second time, the charge will increase to a first-degree misdemeanor and to a third-degree felony for third and subsequent offenses. If you want to know more about your charges and the penalties associated with them, speak to a Tampa Bay sex crime attorney.
Penalty for soliciting prostitution in Florida
According to Florida Statute §796.07 (2)(5)(a), solicitation for prostitution is a misdemeanor of the first degree. As a first offense, a conviction for this crime can lead to up to 1 year of jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
However, a second violation is classified as a third-degree felony and if you are convicted of this crime, you could face up to 5 years of prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Subsequent solicitation for prostitution offenses are considered second-degree felonies which carry up to 15 years of jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
In Florida, a conviction for a solicitation charge will also result in the following penalties:
- 100 hours of community service.
- Pay a $5,000 civil penalty.
- Mandatory minimum imprisonment of 10 days (only for second and subsequent offenses).
- Attend an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
- 60 days of vehicle impoundment (if the vehicle was used during the commission of the offense).
- Register to the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database.
Florida does not take solicitation charges lightly since engaging with these activities increases the demand for commercial sex and fuels human trafficking. As Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister explained after a human trafficking sting operation, law enforcement’s goal is to reduce demand.
Since Florida is trying to reduce the demand for sex workers and, therefore, end human trafficking, a conviction for solicitation leads to more severe punishments than a conviction for prostitution.
During this human trafficking operation sting, 125 arrests were made. Some of them were related to soliciting another to commit prostitution. As part of their commitment to fighting human trafficking, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office explained that undercover police are working to target people that engage in prostitution or prey on children.
If you were arrested as a result of a sting operation, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore the potential defenses for your case.
Defenses to Prostitution & Solicitation Charges
When it comes to fighting prostitution and solicitation charges, there are different defenses that a criminal lawyer can use. Although the potential strategies for your case are based on the nature of your charges and the circumstances of the offense, here are some of the defenses that the criminal lawyers at Goldman Wetzel may be able to use:
- The sexual activity occurred, but there was no agreement to actually exchange money.
- Law enforcement entrapped the defendant, causing them to commit this offense.
- There was no request or agreement about prostitution.
- Law enforcement does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant engaged in prostitution.
Contact a Tampa Bay Sex Crime Lawyer
Florida does not take prostitution lightly. As a result, if you have been accused of engaging in these types of activities, you may want to speak to a criminal defense attorney that can help you explore your legal options.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients facing charges for misdemeanor and felony sex offenses in the Tampa Bay Area. Call us at (727) 828-3900 to book a free consultation to speak to an experienced lawyer about your charges.