Police Crack Down on Fort Lauderdale Prostitution
Police recently conducted a sting to make arrests for prostitution in Fort Lauderdale on Federal Highway just south of downtown, the Sun Sentinel reports.
Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession– accepting money for sex — but in Florida it is still a crime. Police are consistently holding raids to try to arrest people for soliciting prostitution as well as arresting the prostitutes. Crackdowns on online massage therapists or those advertising through classifieds is an even grayer area of enforcement. While it is a misdemeanor to seek a prostitute, it can be one of the more embarrassing crimes to be charged with and therefore should be defended by an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney. Too often, an embarrassed defendant will quickly plead guilty in an effort to put the incident in the rearview mirror. We think that’s a mistake. Having a prostitution or solicitation conviction on your record can impact your life for years to come.
According to the Sun Sentinel, police have averaged between 171 and 334 prostitution-related arrests each year over the past five years. So far this year, however, the department has only made 66 arrests. Businesses and residents complained that the highway has been the scene of prostitution, which they say is scaring away customers and bringing in other types of crime to their neighborhood.
So, the department set up a sting where an undercover officer with scantily clad clothes walked the streets. Eight men — ages 26 to 54 — were arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Police videotaped the transactions.
In these types of cases, entrapment is definitely an area an experienced criminal defense attorney will pursue in defense of the suspect. Entrapment means when police coerce a person into committing a crime they wouldn’t normally commit. For instance, if a person pulls over to talk to an undercover officer posing as a prostitute and decides to leave, but the officer urges them to stay, that could be considered entrapment because it was the officer’s words or actions that caused them to commit the crime.
Stings of any kind that police put together must be carefully conducted within the bounds of the law in order for the evidence they collect to stand at trial. And challenging the evidence is key to a successful defense.
But police sometimes conduct these raids in order to look for more serious crimes, such as human trafficking, sex slavery and underage prostitution. That’s when a seemingly less-than-serious misdemeanor offense can begin to turn into the more serious felony offenses that lead to serious prison time.
According to Florida Statutes 796, prostitution is defined as “giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.”
The chapter goes on to define how it is illegal to pimp a prostitute, seek out someone who is under 18 for purposes of prostitution, sell or buy minors into sex trafficking or prostitution and other prostitution-related crimes. The penalties range from months in jail to decades in prison, as the trafficking charges can be charged as first-degree felonies punishable by 30 years in prison.
If you are arrested on prostitution charges in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert for a free consultation.
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