In Florida, prostitution is a crime with serious legal consequences and punishments. If you’ve been charged or accused of prostitution or solicitation, you may be concerned about the implications of the charge and the possible consequences you might face. In this article, we’ll take a look at the definitions of both prostitution and solicitation, as well as the penalties and possible defenses.
How is Prostitution Defined in Florida?
In Florida, it is illegal for unmarried people to offer, buy, sell, solicit, or agree to engage in sexual favors or activities for money. Simply put, anyone receiving or offering a human body for money in exchange for sexual acts or activities is considered a criminal offense.
Like most states, Florida has prostitution laws that help punish those who offer or purchase sexual services. These laws do not cover sexual acts or activities between spouses. The state also punishes people who benefitted financially from prostitution arrangements.
Despite not being as serious as violent offenses like assault or child abuse, a conviction for prostitution can still lead to fines, imprisonment, civil penalties, and community service.
Several details are associated with Florida’s prostitution laws. Chapter 796.07 from the Florida Statutes entitled ‘Prohibiting prostitution and related acts’ listed various unlawful acts under the statute, including:
- Establishing, owning, maintaining, or operating a place intended for lewdness and prostitution.
- Offering (or agreeing to offer) a person for prostitution.
- Agreeing to receive or to provide any individual person money for sexual activities.
- Entering, staying, or residing in a building or place used for prostitution.
- Purchasing the sexual services of a person engaged or involved in prostitution.
The prosecution must prove to the judge, court, and jury that you have intent to engage in prostitution. They must provide evidence that you have intentions to either purchase or offer sexual services.
What is Solicitation For Prostitution?
While under the topic of prostitution, you might encounter the term ‘solicitation’ more often than not. It is different from being charged with prostitution.
Solicitation involves illegal acts such as either bribing, encouraging, commanding or requesting a person to engage in sexual favors. It means paying and hiring someone to engage in prostitution for them.
These acts are strictly illegal in the state. A person simply talking to a recognized prostitute can get into legal trouble with the court if found that money is encouraged.
What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?
Punishment for prostitution can vary, depending on how many prior or past convictions you’ve had. Here are some potential penalties you can expect if you’re charged with prostitution or solicitation in Florida:
- Forcing someone to become a prostitute and financially benefit from it can lead up to 5 years in jail with a hefty fine of $5000.
- Renting a property for the intended purpose of prostitution can be punishable with a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for 6 months. A previous conviction for the same offense can result in a fine of $1000 and a year in jail.
- Forcing a minor or child into prostitution and living off them is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a staggering $10000. Selling minors to prostitution can lead to a $10,000 fine and 30 years of imprisonment.
- For a first offense, prostitution and other similar crimes can lead to up to $500 and a jail time of 60 days. If it’s a subsequent offense, you can expect up to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of $5000.
- Offering or engaging in prostitution while you know you are HIV-infected can be punishable with a hefty fine of $5000 and up to 5 years in prison.
- Solicitation for prostitution is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree in Florida. At first offense, a conviction can lead to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
- Solicitation of a minor is a more severe offense than solicitation involving adults. The penalty if convicted is a maximum of 15 years of jail time and a $10000 fine. Also, if multiple devices are involved in soliciting a minor, the accused might face separate charges for each.
What Are the Defenses for Prostitution?
There are several defenses a criminal defense lawyer can use to fight prostitution and solicitation charges. The potential defense strategies should be based on the circumstances of your offense and the nature of your charge. These defenses include:
A sting by law enforcement often places the accused in compromising situations. In this case, your lawyer may use the defense of entrapment. This happens when law enforcement or government authority coerces the defendant into committing a crime.
2. Lack of Evidence
There could be insufficient evidence that the defendant had a specific intent to engage in prostitution. You must seek out the help of a criminal defense attorney. They can review any evidence, including video recordings or audio, testimonies from law enforcement, and other evidence that could establish whether or not the defendant is engaged in prostitution.
3. No Agreement or Exchange of Money is Involved
Money exchange is the most vital thing to identifying prostitution. If the sexual activity occurred and you made no money or agreement, it can be used as a solid defense to strengthen your case.
Need Legal Help?
The state of Florida doesn’t take prostitution or solicitation lightly. As a result, if you’ve been accused of engaging in any sexual acts related to prostitution, you will undoubtedly face severe penalties if convicted. The good news is that you have options. You can defend yourself in court and try to beat the charges, or you can work with an attorney to develop a defense strategy. Either way, it’s important to know your rights and understand the consequences of engaging in prostitution.
At Hanlon Law, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you with your case. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options. We have helped numerous clients throughout the State of Florida.
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205