In the state of Florida, prostitution is strictly prohibited by law. When individuals are accused of solicitation or any other prostitution-related offenses, they often face more than just the legal consequences.
Beyond the tangible penalties, the social stigma surrounding prostitution charges can cast a long shadow over an individual's life, affecting personal relationships, employment prospects, and overall well-being. The emotional toll of navigating these charges can be profound, leading to stress, anxiety, and reputational damage.
Navigating the legal complexities and personal challenges of prostitution-related charges requires the expertise of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Their guidance is invaluable in safeguarding your legal rights and mitigating the broader impact these charges may have on your life.
If you find yourself in this challenging situation, seeking the assistance of a criminal defense attorney is not just a choice. It is an imperative step toward protecting your future and well-being. The right lawyer may mean the difference between freedom and jail time. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Robert David Malove will leave no stone unturned as they fight to defend you and protect your future.
Defining Prostitution and Solicitation in Florida
Prostitution is defined as engaging in or promoting sexual activities for financial gain. While many people commonly associate these charges with the buying and selling of sexual services, there are various actions that can lead to these offenses.
In accordance with Florida Statute §796, the following activities can result in criminal charges:
- Owning, establishing, or operating a location where prostitution occurs
- Offering another individual for the purpose of prostitution
- Coercing or compelling someone into becoming a prostitute
- Offering to engage in prostitution
- Hosting someone in a place intended for prostitution
- Soliciting, enticing, or procuring someone for prostitution
- Willingly transporting or bringing someone to a place for prostitution
- Employing a prostitute
- Entering or residing in a location designated for prostitution
- Renting a place for use in prostitution
- Knowingly residing with or deriving support from a person engaged in prostitution
- Aiding and abetting a person in committing any of the aforementioned offenses
In cases involving these crimes, the prosecution must demonstrate that you had the intent to engage in prostitution, either by purchasing or offering services for financial gain. Therefore, even scheduling an appointment or promoting such services can lead to charges of prostitution or solicitation.
Legal Consequences and Penalties
In Florida, charges for prostitution or solicitation offenses vary from second-degree misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. The severity of these charges depends on the defendant's prior convictions and the nature of the offense.
For subsequent offenses, charges escalate by one degree. For instance, individuals arrested and charged with prostitution for the first time face a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if they are arrested a second time, the charge increases to a first-degree misdemeanor, and for third and subsequent offenses, it becomes a third-degree felony.
In addition to the escalating charges, Florida law imposes a wide range of penalties, including fines, imprisonment, community service, and mandatory participation in educational programs addressing the consequences of prostitution and human trafficking.
The complexity of these penalties highlights the critical need for professional legal counsel to navigate the intricacies of your case and work towards the most favorable outcome. Consulting with a Florida criminal defense attorney will provide you with the essential guidance and advocacy required to protect your rights and interests in the face of prostitution or solicitation charges.
Penalties for Soliciting Prostitution
Under Florida Statute §796.07 (2)(5)(a), solicitation for prostitution is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. For a first-time offense, a conviction can result in a maximum jail sentence of up to 1 year and a fine not exceeding $1,000.
In the event of a second violation, the charge is elevated to a third-degree felony, carrying potential penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. Subsequent solicitation for prostitution offenses are deemed second-degree felonies, with possible imprisonment of up to 15 years and fines reaching a maximum of $10,000.
In addition to these criminal penalties, a solicitation conviction in Florida can entail the following consequences:
- 100 hours of community service
- A mandatory $5,000 civil penalty
- A minimum 10-day imprisonment (applicable only for second and subsequent offenses)
- Attendance at an educational program addressing the adverse effects of prostitution and human trafficking
- Vehicle impoundment for 60 days (if the vehicle was used during the commission of the offense)
- Registration in the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database
Florida takes solicitation charges seriously due to their role in driving demand for commercial sex, which in turn contributes to human trafficking. Florida's legal system treats solicitation convictions more severely than prostitution convictions as part of its effort to combat human trafficking.
If you have been arrested as a result of a sting operation or face solicitation charges, it is wise to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore potential defenses for your case.
The Stigma of Prostitution Arrests
Prostitution charges in Florida carry not only legal consequences but also a significant social and personal stigma. Individuals accused of prostitution-related offenses often find themselves confronting harsh judgment and prejudice from society, colleagues, friends, and family members. This stigma can be pervasive, lingering long after their legal cases have concluded.
The lasting stigma associated with prostitution charges underscores the importance of seeking legal representation and exploring defense strategies to mitigate not only the legal repercussions but also the social and personal challenges that may arise. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support in navigating these complexities, working to safeguard both the legal rights and the dignity of individuals facing such charges.
Defending Against Solicitation Charges
When mounting a defense against prostitution and solicitation charges, criminal lawyers employ various strategies tailored to the specific nature of the charges and the circumstances surrounding the offense. At the Law Offices of Robert David Malove, our legal team is well-equipped to explore several potential defenses on your behalf, including:
Lack of an Exchange Agreement
One possible defense is asserting that while sexual activity may have occurred, there was no genuine agreement or intention to exchange money for services. This argument challenges the prosecution's ability to prove the crucial element of an explicit financial transaction.
Entrapment by Law Enforcement
In some cases, defense attorneys may argue that law enforcement agents engaged in entrapment, coercing, or inducing the defendant to commit the offense. It may serve as a valid defense if it can be demonstrated that the defendant would not have committed the act without such inducement.
Defense attorneys may challenge the prosecution's case by arguing that there is insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant engaged in prostitution. Insufficiencies in evidence can weaken the prosecution's case and provide a basis for a defense.
It's important to note that the viability of these defenses depends on the specific details of your case. Our criminal lawyers will carefully assess the circumstances surrounding your charges to determine the most appropriate defense strategy to protect your rights and interests.