Prostitution stings may sound like the plot of an episode of Law and Order, but they are also quite real and relatively common in the real world. A recent human trafficking sting in nearby Polk County shows the very real dangers associated with prostitution charges in Florida.
The recent Florida sting began with police officers monitoring online advertisements for prostitution and ended with the arrest of 61 people in total. The people arrested ranged from a pregnant woman, to a retired police officer, to a 68 year old. Of those, 26 were reported as alleged prostitutes and 31 as their clients, or “johns.” The reported charges of those 61 people involved included aiding and abetting someone committing prostitution, solicitation of lewdness, and several drug charges.
Florida Prostitution Laws
It is important to understand that you can be arrested on solicitation for prostitution charges for actions that don't actually lead to sexual acts. Because the general crime of solicitation is complete when you request or encourage another to commit a crime, the crime of solicitation for prostitution occurs very simply when you ask someone to commit prostitution or accept an offer of prostitution. Even if no actual sexual act takes place, you may still be charged with a crime. This includes situations like the Polk County sting, where law enforcement officials may be posing as interested prostitutes or johns.
The statute encompasses a wide variety of actions, all illegal. Some of those actions within the Florida prostitution statute include:
- Offering to commit or actually committing prostitution, lewdness (an indecent or obscene act), or assignation (making an appointment to engage in prostitution or lewdness);
- Transporting or offering to transport someone with reasonable knowledge that the purpose of transport is prostitution or lewdness;
- Owning or operating any place for the purpose of prostitution;
- Soliciting another to commit prostitution; and
- Purchasing services from someone engaged in prostitution.
Penalties for Violations
Anyone who commits one of these acts can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. A second offense of these laws constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Worse still, a third offense would be a third-degree felony – which means you could be facing up to 5 years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
How an Attorney Can Help
Because the offenses of prostitution and solicitation for prostitution are so serious in the state of Florida, it is absolutely vital that anyone charged with one of these offenses consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The attorneys at Farkas & Crowley are seasoned criminal defense lawyers that focus their practice exclusively on defending people facing criminal charges. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with whatever charge you may be facing.