A common misconception is that hiring, or soliciting, someone to engage in prostitution is not a serious crime. The truth is that Florida law prohibits solicitation, and allows for tough penalties for this crime.
In fact, someone convicted of solicitation could face serious punishment, even for a first offense. In addition to the legal penalties, anyone convicted of solicitation will also face social consequences.
Because solicitation is a sexually related crime, a conviction can permanent limit someone’s educational and employment opportunities. If you are facing solicitation charges, contact one of our Florida solicitation lawyers today. An experienced defense attorney in Florida can assist in advocating on your behalf and ensuring that you know what to expect at each step of the legal process.
Florida Code Section 796.07 prohibits “purchas[ing] the services of any person engaged in prostitution.” The same law also prohibits “solicit[ing], induc[ing], entic[ing], or procur[ing] another to commit prostitution.” Florida prostitution laws are broad, and criminalize selling any type of sexual service.
A common misconception is that someone can only be charged with solicitation if a sexual act or sexual intercourse actually occurred. In reality, anyone who tries to get another person to engage in prostitution can face solicitation charges.
This is true regardless of whether any sexual activity took place. In other words, this means that buying, or even attempting to buy, sexual services from someone else is illegal.
For a first offense, solicitation of prostitution is generally considered a second-degree misdemeanor. According to Florida Statutes Section 796.07(4), someone convicted of solicitation could face penalties including:
- A 60-day jail sentence
- Fines up to $5,000
- Driver’s license revocation, if they used their own motor vehicle to commit the offense
- Mandatory attendance in a sexual violence prevention education program
- Blood testing for HIV/STD
Subsequent offenses may be classified as more serious misdemeanors, or even felonies, depending on the circumstances. Potential penalties also increase with subsequent offense, making the presence of a Florida solicitation lawyer extremely important.
Soliciting a Minor
Under Florida law, as well as federal law, minors engaged in prostitution are legally considered human trafficking victims. This means that anyone who solicits, or purchases sexual services from a minor, can face human trafficking charges.
Even if the minor appeared to be voluntarily engaging in prostitution, human trafficking charges could still apply.
These charges are serious felonies under Florida law. Anyone convicted of human trafficking involving minors faces penalties including:
- Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 66 months (absent grounds for a downward departure)
- Up to life in prison
- Fines up to $10,000
The specific circumstances of a case determine whether someone faces a misdemeanor solicitation charge, or a life felony human trafficking charge. It is important to contact a Florida solicitation lawyer immediately after arrest. Once you contact an attorney, they can begin preparing your defense right away.
Prostitution vs. Escort Services
Hiring a prostitute is a crime in Florida; hiring an escort is not. Those who hire an escort, or contact escort services, are not purchasing sexual favors. Rather, they are paying for the escort’s time and companionship.
This is an important distinction, because paying for someone’s companionship does not equate to prostitution under state law.
The police often set up sting operations using phony escort services, and may arrest customers who believe they are hiring a legitimate escort.
In such cases, the person arrested may face solicitation charges even if they had no intent of buying sexual services. If you were arrested in an escort sting operation, call our Florida solicitation lawyers today.
Our Florida Solicitation Attorneys Can Help
If you are facing a solicitation for prostitution or related charge in Florida, contact our Florida solicitation defense attorneys now. We will fight these charges on your behalf, and work hard to help you avoid conviction.