Some individuals believe that prostitution should be legalized and regulated by the government. Proponents of legalizing prostitution argue that it would be safer for prostitutes. But, while this topic may be debated by social commentators and the public generally, it appears prostitution will continue to be illegal for the foreseeable future. As a result, both people who are offering and those who are seeking prostitution services should be aware of the criminal penalties for engaging in this act.
Under Florida law, prostitution is defined as the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire, though this excludes sexual activity between spouses. There is an extensive list of activities that are illegal, including, but not limited to the following:
- Owning, establishing, maintaining, or operating any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution;
- Offering, or offering or agreeing to secure, another person for prostitution;
- Receiving, or agreeing to receive, any person into any place, structure building, or conveyance for prostitution;
- Offering to commit, committing, or engaging in prostitution;
- Soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another person to commit prostitution; or
- Purchasing services of any person engaged in prostitution.
A first violation is a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. A second violation is a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. For third and subsequent violations, the offense is a third degree felony. This carries potential imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition to the penalties, after a third offense, the person will be offered admission into a pretrial intervention program or a substances abuse treatment program.
Crimes Considered More Serious
There are some prostitution-related crimes that are considered more serious than the acts defined above. A person who procures for prostitution, or causes to be prostituted, any person under the age of 18 commits a second degree felony. The penalties include a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. It is also illegal to force, compel, or coerce another to become a prostitute. This offense is a third degree felony.
One other crime, which is often associated with prostitution of people under 18, is sex trafficking. This occurs when a person knowingly recruits, entices, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means a person, knowing that force, fraud, or coercion will be used to cause that person to engage in prostitution. This is a second degree felony. Sex trafficking becomes a first degree felony if it is committed against a person under the age of 14 or results in death. A first degree felony is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
South Florida Criminal Defense
Regardless of whether you were providing or soliciting prostitution services, or involved in some other way, being charged with a prostitution-related offense can have significant consequences. If you are facing any of these charges, you should contact the knowledgeable South Florida attorneys at Farkas & Crowley, P.A. We want to put our experience to work for you.