The best way to understand “solicitation of prostitution” is to break down the definition of the two crimes contained within the phrase. The crime of “solicitation” refers to when someone asks, requests, hires, commands, or encourages another individual to commit a crime. Solicitation does not actually require that either party perform the criminal act, but rather it occurs at the moment the instigating party “solicits” or requests the other person to commit a crime.
Prostitution, on the other hand, refers to the sale of sexual services in exchange for something of value (usually money). However, how prostitution is defined and the elements required in order to prove prostitution will generally vary by state.
Thus, in taking the definition of these two crimes and combining them together, “solicitation of prostitution” refers to when a person asks, commands, or encourages another party to engage in a sexual act for a fee. Again, this does not mean the person will have to participate in the act, but just that they demonstrate a willingness to further the crime.
For instance, a person can be charged with soliciting a prostitute by simply withdrawing money from a bank or ATM after they are asked to pay for the services. Another example that may show that a person committed the act of soliciting a prostitute is if they bring a hired prostitute to a location (e.g., a hotel or motel) in order to receive solicited services.
Finally, it is important to note that a charge for solicitation can become more serious if the act involved 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.
What are the Penalties of Soliciting Prostitution?
There are a number of different legal penalties that a defendant can receive if they are convicted of soliciting a prostitute. Generally speaking, a typical legal penalty for soliciting prostitution is jail time (usually for no longer than a year), and a fine of up to $1,000. As previously mentioned, guidelines for punishments will usually vary by state and sometimes even by county.
For example, Nevada is the only state in which prostitution is legal. However, this does not mean it is legal throughout the entire state. As such, what may be considered legal in Las Vegas, will not be the case if the defendant is caught in another county where it is illegal like Clark or Carson City.
Other common penalties for soliciting prostitution can include:
- Community service;
- Fines greater than $1,000;
- A term of imprisonment; and/or
- Mandatory rehabilitative or life skill programs (e.g., AIDS education classes).
Are there any Defenses to Solicitation of Prostitution?
In the event that a person is charged with the crime of soliciting a prostitute, there are some defenses that they may be able to raise against their case. For instance, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act of solicitation occurred. Thus, having a lack of evidence or ambiguous evidence that amounts to less than the standard required by “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” can result in a 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. The defendant must also prove that they were not inclined to commit the crime before being coerced, and that they attempted to resist going through with the criminal act.
In some cases, “mistake of fact” can also be used as a defense. This can occur when the defendant believed they agreed to pay for services that did not involve sexual acts, or if they had no knowledge that the person was a prostitute.
The most famous example of such a situation is typically shown in movies where an attractive person will solicit someone at a bar to partake in sexual activities, and after doing so, they will request that the unwitting party pay them for their services.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with Solicitation of Prostitution Charges?
If you are facing charges for solicitation of prostitution, then it may be in your best interest to contact a local criminal law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to explain your charges and how the laws in your state can impact the outcome of your case.
Your attorney will also be able to determine the potential penalties you might be issued, and whether there are any defenses you can raise against the charges. Additionally, your lawyer can also represent you in court if necessary, and can help ensure that your rights as a defendant are sufficiently protected.