In Florida, soliciting prostitution carries serious criminal consequences. If you have recently been arrested, you might wonder, What happens if you get caught in a prostitution sting? In addition to incarceration, fines, and additional penalties like community service, solicitation charges can have significant collateral consequences that negatively impact your life. For instance, such charges might sully your reputation at work, make things difficult at home, make it hard to obtain certain jobs, or cause a landlord to reject your application. Therefore, to protect your future as much as possible, you should consult an experienced criminal attorney promptly. Moses and Rooth, Attorneys at Law, are skilled criminal defense attorneys who can help strategize a winning defense.
What Will Happen If I Am Caught Soliciting Prostitution?
Several Florida statutes prohibit prostitution, and the provisions are aimed at various participants in the sex trade. The penalties differ depending on which section of the statute the State accuses you of violating.
Distinction Between Prostitution and Solicitation
Many people use “prostitution” as a broad term for transactions involving sexual activity. However, there is a distinction between prostitution and solicitation.
Prostitution refers to performing sexual favors in exchange for money, while solicitation refers to the act of asking another to commit prostitution. Florida Statute 796.07(2)(f) makes it unlawful to solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation. But the entirety of Chapter 796 of Florida Statutes prohibits various prostitution-related activities, such as the following:
- Forcing, compelling, coercing, or soliciting another to become a prostitute;
- Deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution; and
- Renting space to be used for lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
So what happens if you get caught soliciting prostitution? The answer depends on the incident’s circumstances and your defense attorney’s experience and skill.
Can You Get Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution?
Yes, you can. Florida’s arrest rate for prostitution offenses is higher than most states and the national average. Florida law enforcement has made over 8,500 arrests involving various prostitution-related activities over the last five years. An overwhelming number of these arrests involve solicitation.
Can You Go to Jail for Soliciting Prostitution?
Again, yes, you can go to jail for soliciting prostitution. Florida’s solicitation statute has more severe penalties than other prostitution-related offenses. The penalties for solicitation in Florida include the following:
- First offense. This is a 1st-degree misdemeanor that carries fines up to $1000 and a term of imprisonment up to 1 year.
- Second offense. This would be a 3rd-degree felony that carries a fine of up to $5000 and a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years.
- Third or subsequent offense. The State would charge a third or subsequent offense as a 2nd-degree felony that is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a term of imprisonment up to 15 years. There are additional collateral consequences for felonies, such as losing the right to vote or bear arms until a court restores your rights.
In addition, second or subsequent solicitation offenses carry a minimum mandatory 10-day incarceration sentence. When a sentence is “mandatory,” the judge has no discretion to lower the penalty—they must sentence you to the statutory minimum. Further, those convicted of violating Florida’s solicitation statute may be required to perform community service, participate in educational programs, and more.
I Got Caught in a Prostitution Sting
Prostitution stings are becoming increasingly more common because most transactions begin and are facilitated online. While the rise of the internet has made it easier for pimps, johns, and madams to solicit prostitution, it has also made it easier for law enforcement to identify prostitution rings.
Those caught in a prostitution sting should consult with a Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges and potential penalties and help strategize a viable defense. A good defense can lessen the severity of your penalties, get your charges reduced, get your charges dismissed, or win you a not-guilty verdict at trial.
Defenses to Solicitation Charges
Each case is unique, but let’s look at a few common defenses.
- Entrapment. This defense involves arguing that the police caused or lured you into committing a crime you would not have otherwise committed.
- Constitutional violations. Violations of your constitutional rights can occur from your first encounter with police through your arrest, evidence gathering, and all the way to trial. A motion to suppress evidence obtained in violation of your rights can lead to the dismissal or reduction of criminal charges.
- Insufficient evidence. Prosecutors must establish all of the elements of solicitation to meet their burden of proof. An insufficient evidence defense claims that the prosecutor has not proven all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Officer credibility. Undermining law enforcement’s credibility can be an effective defense strategy because most solicitation charges hinge on the testimony of police officers.
If you are facing solicitation or other sex offense charges, you should contact an experienced attorney to learn about all your defense options.
If you were recently arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution, there is a lot on the line. At Moses & Rooth, we understand what you’re going through and what needs to be done to ensure that your arrest has as little impact on your future as possible. We have decades of combined experience aggressively defending clients charged with soliciting, and we know how to develop a compelling defense. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 407-377-0150. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.