In a general sense, soliciting means asking someone to do something for you. In a legal context, however, solicitation specifically refers to asking another to engage in the crime of prostitution. In Wellington, solicitation is a very serious crime that can carry tough penalties upon conviction.
Anyone convicted of solicitation could face incarceration, high fines, and a permanent criminal record. Unfortunately, the punishment does not necessarily stop with legal penalties, as someone convicted of this crime is likely to face a great deal of social stigma as well. Conviction of any sexual offense could also lead to limited job opportunities, lost relationships, and a ruined reputation.
Because of the potential for these and other serious consequences, it may be important for anyone facing solicitation charges to call a Wellington solicitation lawyer as soon as possible after their arrest. With the help of a capable defense attorney, you may be able to avoid conviction and the subsequent penalties.
How the Law in Wellington Defines Solicitation
Solicitation is the act of offering someone money or another item of value in exchange for sexual activity. According to Florida Statutes 796.07, it is illegal to “purchase the services of any person engaged in prostitution.” This law also expressly prohibits soliciting someone to commit prostitution.
Simply attempting to engage someone in prostitution is considered solicitation. That means that even if sexual activity does not take place, trying to engage someone in prostitution may lead to a solicitation charge.
Legal Escort Services and Solicitation Charges
In an attempt to be tough on crime, prosecutors and police often mistake legal escort services for illegal solicitation and prostitution activities. State law does not prohibit escort services, which are paid dating services. Consenting adults can legally pay to go on a date with someone else, so long as the payment is for companionship and not for sexual acts.
Often, however, prosecutors try to blur the lines between legal and illegal. As a result, many people face a solicitation charge simply for using a legitimate escort service.
An experienced Wellington solicitation lawyer may be able to defend an individual in such a situation by differentiating between what is and is not legal according to the law itself, instead of the police or prosecutor’s interpretation.
Most first-offense solicitation charges are misdemeanors. However, state law allows for harsh punishment even for misdemeanor crimes. A first-time conviction for solicitation in Wellington could result in the following legal penalties:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- A maximum fine of $5,000
- Mandatory participation in a sexual violence prevention education program
- Loss of driver’s license, if the criminal act took place in a motor vehicle
Prior convictions will also factor into what penalties the defendant could face upon conviction. Those facing a second solicitation charge will likely face a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Those accused of soliciting a minor could also face a felony charge, even if for a first-time offense.
A felony conviction could result in a longer prison sentence and higher fines. The unique facts in any given case will determine what charges the defendant faces, as well as what penalties.
Contacting a Wellington Solicitation Attorney
If you are facing charges of solicitation, do not delay in contacting an attorney. When you call, you can speak with a lawyer who could answer your questions in a professional and sensitive manner. To learn more about how an experienced Wellington solicitation lawyer could help, pick up the phone and schedule a free consultation now.