Charged with Prostitution or Solicitation?
Have you, a friend or a loved one been arrested for Solicitation of Prostitution or Promoting Prostitution in Fort Worth, Texas or the surrounding cities in North Texas? If so, call The Hampton Law Firm now to speak to Jeff Hampton about your legal options!
Tarrant County Vice Units make it a practice to conduct sting operations targeting individuals involved in prostitution at clubs, adult entertainment establishments, massage parlors, escort services and internet advertisements. In fact, the most common sting operation is internet advertisements and chat rooms. Undercover officers will work the internet baiting men and women into conversations that are sexual in nature. Over a period of minutes or hours, the conversation will become more graphic and specific in nature and invitations to meet up for a possible sexual encounter will take place.
Recently, Texas lawmakers have attempted to find every means possible to limit human trafficking and sex abuse. In theory, by penalizing prostitution and solicitation of prostitution in a more extreme manner, the Texas legislature hopes to deter individuals from engaging in sexual favors for money; thereby reducing the demand in the sex trade. The hope is that these tactics will decrease the overall demand for prostitution and solicitation of prostitution. In other words, recent changes to Texas criminal regarding Solicitation of Prostitution are specifically designed to go over those who are driving demand for services.
NEW LAW – Solicitation of Prostitution – Texas Penal Code 43.021
Effective September 1, 2021, Texas becomes the first state in the United States to make Solicitation of Prostitution a felony crime. This new crime designation of Solicitation of Prostitution specifically targets “Johns.” The dictionary defines a “john” as “one who pays money or services to a prostitute for sex.” Although paying a prostitute for sex is legal in some states and countries in other parts of the world, Texas has made it clear that soliciting sex will be treated as a felony.
Under Texas Penal Code 43.021, a person commits an offense of Solicitation of Prostitution if the person KNOWINGLY OFFERS or agrees to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another. The offense of Solicitation of Prostitution is a State Jail Felony, punishable by a minimum of 180 days up to 2 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
It is critical to remember that you can still be charged for Solicitation of Prostitution even if there was no exchange of money or other payment and if no sexual conduct takes place. In other words, merely asking or contracting to make the exchange of money for sex is sufficient for the police to arrest you for the crime of Solicitation of Prostitution.
What Happens If You Are Convicted Of Solicitation Of Prostitution As a State Jail Felony?
Although a State Jail Felony is the lowest level of felony in Texas, you do not want to be a convicted felony and face the possibility of prison time or an extended period of probation. Although you may qualify for misdemeanor punishment treatment under a 12.44(a) with a state jail felony, it is important to be careful when tempted to accept this as a way to resolve your Solicitation of Prostitution case. Taking a misdemeanor punishment on a State Jail Felony makes you a convicted felon. Being a convicted felon makes it impossible to get your solicitation case removed from your criminal record and it could result in future frustration when you are unable to find meaningful employment and labeled by others because you were convicted of a sex crime.
Aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorneys must apply their skill and expertise in negotiating a favorable result for your Solicitation of Prostitution case. In fact, if you are a first-time offender, you must pursue every option available to you under negotiations and pre-trial diversion programs to resolve the case so that you are not convicted and have a chance to clear your criminal record.
Solicitation of Prostitution Defenses
If you are facing a charge of solicitation of prostitution under the new Texas law, it is critical that you have a strong understanding of your legal defenses and how they can be used to help you defend your criminal case. Below, we have listed a few of the common criminal defenses the best solicitation of prostitution attorneys consider when defending citizens of Texas:
Entrapment is one of the most common defenses to consider when examining solicitation of prostitution. Sometimes, undercover police officers take their sting operations too far. If the undercover police officer lures the accused into the crime by inducing the otherwise law-abiding citizen to commit the crime, you may have the defense of entrapment.
For example: we had a client that initially had a conversation with a woman that led to an invitation to meet a hotel to talk and discuss sex. When the client arrived the two sat down on a couch and spent quite a bit of time talking about each other and sex. The client then began to get nervous and started to get up and walk to the door but the undercover female officer got up and walked over to him and put her arm around him and guided him back to the couch and began to rub on his leg in a suggestive way telling him he had nothing to worry about and she would take care of him. After he then said he would agree to the sexual contact, he was placed under arrest for solicitation of prostitution. Was this entrapment? There was a strong argument that it was – he showed a clear intention to abandon the situation and the police officer lured him back to the couch and induced him to commit a crime he otherwise would not have committed. This was taken into consideration for a dismissal arrangement. If you are facing a similar set of facts, it is critical that you do not take a plea agreement to Solicitation of Prostitution.
No Criminal Intent
The State of Texas must prove the element of criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt in order to be convicted of Solicitation of Prostitution in Texas. What if you start to have a conversation with someone and it becomes sexual and the discussion leads to exchanging money for sexual favors? What if you initially listen to the suggestion and consider it but act uncertain if you want to follow through? Maybe you agree to meet up with the individual and you have a conversation but you are hesitant and decided you have changed your mind and want to leave. At that very moment, the police rush out and arrest you. You never exchanged money or verbally agreed to sexual services. Can the State of Texas prove that you had criminal intent to commit Solicitation of prostitution? There is a good argument that it will be very difficult for the prosecution to prove the element of criminal intent to commit solicitation of prostitution. Criminal intent must be proven in trial and if your criminal defense attorney can show you never committed to the act, the intent element may be an effective defense for you in trial.
Possible Pre-Trial Diversion
Depending upon the County in Texas you are facing the charge of Solicitation of Prostitution, there may be an option to participate in a diversion program to resolve your case for a dismissal. A Diversion Program provides an opportunity to complete a program designed for low-risk first-time offenders that provides a dismissal of all charges in exchange for community service or rehabilitation classes being completed in a timely manner. This law is brand new and many counties in Texas have not updated their policies regarding the availability of diversion programs for the crime of solicitation of prostitution. As a result, make sure you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the county you are being charged with this crime.
Solicitation of Prostitution in Texas PRIOR to September 1, 2021
If you or a loved one has been charged with Solicitation of Prostitution prior to September 1, 2021, you will be facing a charge under Texas Penal Code, Section 43.02. Texas law has long held that prostitution is a crime but has chosen to treat it as a misdemeanor offense, not a felony. In fact, the only way that prostitution was eligible to be treated as a felony prior to September 1, 2021 is if the accused had been convicted of prostitution on at least three prior occasions.
Under the old Texas Solicitation of Prostitution law, a person commits the criminal offense of Prostitution if he knowingly offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct for a fee; or solicits another in a public place to engage with him in sexual conduct for hire.
Legally, the crime of Prostitution is established whether the actor is to receive or pay a fee or whether the actor solicits a person to hire him or offers to hire the person solicited.
The crime of Prostitution is classified as a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of up to 180 days and a fine not to exceed $2,000.
However, if the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of Prostitution, then the crime will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of up to 1 year and a fine not to exceed $4,000.
If the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of the crime of Prostitution, then the crime will be classified as a State Jail Felony, punishable by a term in a State Jail facility of not less than 180 days but not more than 2 years.
If the person solicited was 14 years of age or older and younger than 18 years of age, the crime will be classified as a 3rd Degree Felony, punishable by a term in prison of not less than 2 years but not more than 10 years. Finally, if the person solicited was younger than 14 years of age, the crime will be classified as a 2nd Degree Felony, punishable by a term in prison of not less than 2 years but not more than 20 years.
If you have been charged with soliciting another to engage in sexual conduct for hire, it is important to understand that the State of Texas must prove that this conduct took place in a “public place.” Texas law defines a “public place” as any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to the common areas of: hotels; apartment buildings, schools, office buildings, hospitals, retail establishments and shops; airports or bus stations and the streets and highways.
Promotion of Prostitution
Under Texas Penal Code, Section 43.03, a person commits the criminal offense of Promotion of Prostitution if, acting other than as a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution services, he or she knowingly:
- Receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution; or
- Solicits another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.
The crime of Promotion of Prostitution is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of up to 1 year and up to a $4,000 fine.
Depending upon your circumstances and specific charges, being charged with Prostitution or Promotion of Prostitution could force you to address a serious criminal offense that could result in jail time or prison time and a hefty fine.
Furthermore, a conviction for Prostitution or Promotion of Prostitution could result in serious long-term consequences that could result in the following: prison time, an extended probation term, a permanent limitation in your ability to get a job and the stigma of being labeled as a person convicted of a sex crime. Don’t let a bad situation or a bad decision limit your potential and your future!
It is critical that you call The Hampton Law Firm now for a free consultation. At The Hampton Law Firm, you will find an aggressive and experienced criminal defense firm that will thoroughly investigate your case and explore all possible defenses available to you under the law and work to get your case dismissed!
Contact the Hampton Law Firm now at 817-826-9905 to schedule a free consultation to determine your rights and legal options.