Seattle Sexual Exploitation Lawyers

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 How Is "Sexual Exploitation" Defined in Seattle, Washington?

Solicitation of a prostitute involves individuals agreeing to exchange something of value for sex. The agreement can be implied or explicit. In 2015, Seattle changed the name “patronizing a prostitute” to “sexual exploitation.”

When Is a Person Guilty of Sexual Exploitation in Seattle?

To be guilty of sexual exploitation, the City must prove that the defendant:

  • Had a prior understanding that they pay a fee to another individual or third party as compensation for engaging in sexual conduct; or
  • Paid or agreed to pay the fee under the agreement of engaging in sexual activity; or
  • Requested or solicited another individual to engage in sexual conduct in return for a fee.

Understanding sexual exploitation requires breaking down the definitions of the two crimes associated with the phrase. Solicitation occurs when someone asks, requests, hires, commands, or encourages another individual to commit a crime. The act of solicitation does not require either party to commit the crime; rather, it occurs when the instigating party asks the other party to commit the crime.

Prostitution, on the other hand, refers to the sale of sexual services in exchange for something of value (usually money). There is, however, some variation in the way prostitution is defined and the elements required for prostitution to be proven.

When these two crimes are combined, “sexual exploitation” refers to someone asking, commanding, or encouraging another party to commit a sexual act for a fee. This does not mean the person will participate in the act, just that they demonstrate a willingness to do so.

When a person withdraws money from a bank or ATM after being asked to pay for the services, they can be charged with soliciting a prostitute. Bringing a hired prostitute to a location (e.g., a hotel or motel) to receive solicited services is another example of soliciting a prostitute.

Finally, it is important to note that a sexual exploitation charge can become more serious if the act involves the prostitution of a minor or a party engaged in a sexual act with an individual who has a sexually transmitted infection. In most cases, soliciting a minor for sexual services will result in a felony offense.

Does “Sexual Conduct” Refer to Sexual Intercourse?

Yes, but it also refers to any form of sexual activity.

What Is Prostitution?

Although state prostitution laws vary, prostitution typically refers to the sale of sexual services. Sexual acts beyond traditional intercourse often fall under prostitution laws as well. Sexual activity between spouses is excluded from prostitution, however. The most common form of payment is monetary compensation, although it is not required. Prostitution is a misdemeanor in the United States except in ten counties in the State of Nevada.

There are two basic criminal acts associated with prostitution:

  1. Engaging in the act of prostitution: engaging in sexual intercourse with another person in exchange for money or other forms of payment.
  2. Soliciting Prostitution: Offering or soliciting money to another person in exchange for a sexual act.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining If Prostitution Occurred?

A prostitution crime occurs when a person agrees to pay for sex and takes some action to fulfill that agreement. When determining whether prostitution was committed, some factors must be considered.

Prostitution laws generally cover these three issues:

  1. Was there sexual contact? Sexual contact occurs when two people engage in sexual activity. Some states have gender-neutral prostitution laws that cover both opposite sex and same-sex prostitution. Other means of touching are usually included in sexual contact.
  2. Did one of the parties patronize prostitution? Prostitution is patronized (or “solicited”) by giving something of value to another person in exchange for sexual services. In addition, a person patronizes prostitution if they give something of value to another in exchange for sexual contact. People can also patronize prostitution if they request sexual contact for something of value.
  3. Did that person offer something of value for the sexual contact? “Something of value” typically means monetary compensation but can be anything of value, including other non-sexual services.

What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?

Prostitution, the promotion of prostitution, and the solicitation of prostitution are serious crimes. In most states, prostitution is a misdemeanor. As a first offense, a prostitution charge can result in up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Prostitution is punishable by the following penalties:

  • Convicted on a misdemeanor offense
  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Required to enroll in AIDS education classes

What Is a “Patronizing a Prostitute” Charge?

A charge of patronizing prostitution is Washington State’s version of Seattle’s sexual exploitation charge. A defendant is guilty of the state’s crime when they:

  • Pay a fee, to the individual or third party, as compensation for engaging in sexual conduct; or
  • Pay, or agree to pay, a fee to someone pursuant to an understanding that the defendant pays to engage in sexual conduct with a prostitute; or
  • Requested or solicited another individual to engage in sexual conduct for a fee

What Is the Punishment for Sexual Exploitation and Patronizing a Prostitute?

Since the crimes only differ in name, they are both simple misdemeanors. This means a defendant faces up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

Will I Face Any Other Penalties if Convicted of Sexual Exploitation?

Yes. Seattle requires everyone convicted of the crime to provide a DNA sample for analysis and pay a $100 fee for the analysis. Other penalties may require the defendant to:

  • Not be arrested again for sexual exploitation or any other type of solicitation crimes at the city or state level;
  • Remain outside of Seattle unless the requirement would interfere with residence or employment; and
  • Complete terms of sex crime program ordered by the court

What Are the Legal Defenses for Prostitution?

You have a number of legal defenses available to you if you are charged with sexual exploitation. Among the legal defenses are:

  • Entrapment: The police forced the defendant to agree to the crime when the defendant never intended to engage in any illegal acts
  • The alleged prostitute was forced into prostitution
  • Lack of evidence: There is no real evidence to charge the defendant
  • Mistake
  • Insufficient evidence

Are there any Defenses to Sexual Exploitation?

In the event that a person is charged with the crime of sexual exploitation, there are some defenses that they may be able to raise against their case. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act of solicitation occurred. A lack of evidence or ambiguous evidence that falls short of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” may result in dismissal.

Another defense that a defendant may be able to claim is “entrapment.” However, this defense is often very hard to prove and requires the defendant to show that law enforcement induced or coerced them to commit a crime. In addition, the defendant must prove that they did not intend to commit the crime before being coerced and attempting to resist it.

“Mistake of fact” can also be used as a defense. The defendant may believe they agreed to pay for services that did not involve sexual acts or may not have known that the woman was a prostitute.

This scenario is most commonly depicted in movies, in which an attractive person will request that someone pay them after engaging in sexual activities at a bar.

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Case?

Yes, a charge of sexual exploitation may have long-term repercussions. Contacting a criminal lawyer in Seattle immediately about your case is in your best interest.


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