Soliciting for Prostitution
Florida law makes it a crime to offer to commit or solicit any act of prostitution. Pimping and pandering also are against the law. The most common charges include soliciting for prostitution, soliciting another to commit a lewd act, deriving support or proceeds from prostitution, aiding or abetting prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution and transporting another for prostitution.
Prostitution Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, FL
In many of these cases, law enforcement officers will stage elaborate sting operations. Important defenses exist in these cases including the entrapment defense. If you have been charged with soliciting for prostitution or a related offense, contact a Tallahassee prostitution defense lawyer at Pumphrey Law.
Our attorneys represent sex workers and those accused of soliciting their services throughout Tallahassee, Leon County and the surrounding areas in Florida. The team at Pumphrey Law is understanding about your situation and wants to help you understand the charges you face.
Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation about your case.
Information About Soliciting a Prostitute Charges
In Florida, a person can be charged with a crime if he or she is caught soliciting for prostitution. Solicitation is the encouraging, bribing, requesting or commanding a person to commit a crime. In the case of solicitation for prostitution, solicitation is literally asking a person to commit prostitution.
For purposes of the statute prohibiting prostitution in Florida, section 796.07(1)(a), defines the term “sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; or the handling or fondling of the sexual organ of another for the purpose of masturbation. . .” s. 796.07(1)(d), F.S.
Under Florida Statute § 796.07, solicitation is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor for the first offense and a third-degree felony for a second or subsequent offense.
What is Required to Prove Solicitation of Prostitution in Florida?
Florida law considers prostitution to be the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire. In these cases, sexual activity can mean several different things, such as the penetration of a sexual organ by another or any object. The term also could include handling or fondling of a sexual organ for the purpose of masturbation.
A person also could be charged with solicitation if he or she attempts to get someone to perform a “lewd act," which is considered anything indecent or an obscene act.
One of the interesting aspects of the sex crime is that money does not have to be exchanged to be considered solicitation. Only the offer of money needs to be made. In addition, a sexual act does not have to be committed for it to be considered soliciting.
For example, law enforcement officers often set up sting operations to catch people soliciting prostitutes. In these cases, no sexual act is actually performed, but the person who is charged with soliciting, often called "the john", still can face criminal penalties.
A conviction for prostitution or solicitation can result in large fines, probation or jail time and mandatory counseling programs. The conviction also could have repercussions on your social and professional lives. The penalties increase dramatically for repeat offenses.
A first offense for solicitation is now a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, the penalties increase for a second offense which could be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Allegations of forcing or coercing another person into prostitution, such as pimping, can also be charged as a felony.
The Florida Legislature also amended the prostitution statutes to add faith-based programs on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking to the educational programs that a person convicted of soliciting prostitution must attend if such programs exist in their respective judicial district.
Additionally, the Florida Legislature recently increased penalties for a violation of s. 796.06, relating to renting space to be used for lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
Distinction Between Soliciting and Offering to Commit Prostitution
In 2015, the Florida Legislature amended ch. 796, F.S., to increase the penalty for "solicitation" from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony for subsequent violations. The legislature also added requirements for community service, a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, and attendance of an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking. Ch. 2015-145, Laws of Fla.; s. 796.07(2)(f) and (5), F.S.
The changes were touted as a way to thwart human trafficking by providing harsher penalties for the men who solicit prostitutes. The Florida legislature also recognized that minors cannot consent to prostitution and should be treated as victims which followed the trend in other states and at the national level. The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, for example, recognizes all prostituted minors as victims of sex trafficking as explained in 22 U.S.C. § 7102(9)(A).
As a result fo these changes, adults who use minors in any act prohibited under ch. 796, F.S., are not prosecuted under ch. 796, F.S., but should rather be prosecuted under other criminal laws, such as, but not limited to:
- Chapter 827, F.S. related to the abuse of children;
- Chapter 847, F.S. related to obscenity;
- Section 810.145, F.S. for video voyeurism;
- Section 800, F.S. for lewdness and indecent exposure;
- Section 794, F.S. for sexual battery; and
- Section 787.06, F.S. for human trafficking.
Since Florida’s Prostitution laws are no longer being used to prosecute crimes involving minors, the follow statutes were repealed from ch. 796, F.S. in 2014:
- Reclassifying prostitution violations involving minors;
- Selling or buying of minors into prostitution; and
- Procuring persons under age 18 for prostitution.
Finding a Prostitution Defense Lawyer in Leon County, FL
If you are charged with soliciting another to commit an act of prostitution, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee. Pumphrey Law has years of experience representing clients charged with prostitution crimes throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas.
Call us at (850) 681-7777 today to discuss your case.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 28, 2017.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.