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What Is Solicitation, And Is Soliciting Against the Law?
Solicitation for prostitution is offering or attempting to exchange sexual activities for money or anything of value. Solicitation is a crime and someone suspected of soliciting can be arrested and charged with a sex crime. Criminal prostitution laws also make it illegal to offer sex for money, recruit for prostitution, arrange for prostitution, or engage in prostitution.
In limited situations, paying for sex is legal. Nevada is the only state in the United States that has legalized sex work in some counties, and even then it exists in very limited circumstances. In almost every other situation in the U.S. solicitation is a crime. Even if solicitation involves paying for sexual services between consenting adults, the law considers solicitation a sex crime and can charge the solicitor, the prostitute, and anyone else involved in facilitating the transaction.
Even though solicitation is against the law, it is a common offense. Most of the time, the crime of prostitution goes unnoticed because there is no one else to witness the transaction and no one reports a crime. When the police arrest someone for solicitation, it often involves an undercover sting operation.
Why Was I Involved in a Sting Operation?
Law enforcement agencies may put up online ads offering sex for money. The police will monitor and manage the email and phone number in the ad to wait for potential customers to contact the fake prostitute or pimp. When the customer sets up a time and meeting location, police officers may be waiting to take the suspect into custody.
Other sting operations may use officers dressed up as prostitutes. The undercover police officers are under video and audio surveillance, usually with other officers waiting in a nearby hotel. In general, the undercover officers will wait for the suspect to mention money or payment or agree to payment before making an arrest.
What Is the Penalty for Solicitation?
The criminal penalties for solicitation vary by state. In most cases, solicitation is a misdemeanor offense and not a felony crime. The penalties for misdemeanor crimes include up to a year in jail. Other penalties may include suspending your driver’s license, impounding your vehicle, or mandatory community service. After any criminal conviction, you may end up with a criminal record that will show up in background checks for jobs, housing applications, or government record searches.
Is Solicitation a Sex Offender Crime?
Generally, solicitation for prostitution is not a sex offender crime. However, if you are convicted of felony solicitation of a minor, you will likely have to register as a sex offender. As a registered sex offender, you will have to report to local law enforcement every year and any time you move. Your state’s public sex offender registry may allow anyone to search for offenders by address, including showing the offender’s name, picture, and sex crime.
How Can I Fight a Solicitation of Prostitution Charge?
You have the legal right to defend yourself against solicitation charges. The prosecutor may pressure you to plead guilty but make sure you understand the rights you are giving up. The prosecutor may actually have a weak case and is pushing for a plea deal as the only option.
When the police conduct an undercover sting, they often act before there is any strong evidence for solicitation. Possible defenses available to allegations of soliciting a prostitute include:
- The activity you asked someone to participate in is not a crime
- You did not intend to solicit sex
- Your proposal was misunderstood
- There was no communication that the sex would be for money or anything of value
- You intended to offer money to help someone with no expectation of sex
- No one received, heard, or responded to your request
How Can a Solicitation Attorney Help?
If you have been charged with solicitation, a criminal defense attorney can explain how the law in your state defines solicitation and discuss the possible defenses available to the criminal charge. An experienced attorney can also:
- Represent you in court, preliminary hearings, and trial
- Negotiate for a reduced charge or to have the charge dismissed
- Prepare and present a strong defense
- Negotiate a plea deal to avoid jail time
What Is the Average Cost for a Defense Attorney?
The cost of hiring a criminal defense attorney will depend on your individual situation. Every solicitation case is different, with a different set of facts and circumstances. If the prosecutor has very little evidence, you may be able to get your case dismissed after a few discussions between your criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor. If there is a lot of evidence against you, including a confession or video evidence, your lawyer may have to take time to build a strong case to keep the evidence out of court.
The consequences of a sex crime conviction can be severe, including a criminal record, harm to your reputation, and the possibility of registering as a sex offender. The best way to find out how much a criminal defense law firm will be is to contact local criminal lawyers. Local criminal defense attorneys will understand the local criminal process and may even be familiar with the police officers and judge involved in your case.