Zealous Representation Against a Sex Crime Charge in Clearwater or St. Petersburg

Under Florida law, both parties to a would-be agreement to exchange money for sexual contact face potential punishment. That is, both prostitution itself and solicitation for prostitution are illegal. In addition to jail time and fines, people convicted for prostitution or solicitation must live with the stigma of having a criminal record and the embarrassment of having been convicted of a sex crime. Fortunately, there are sometimes defenses available to people accused of these offenses, and a sex crime lawyer can advise you on whether any of them may apply to you. St. Petersburg and Clearwater prostitution defense lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law has more than 20 years of experience defending individuals accused of wrongdoing, and he is here to help protect your reputation and your future.

Florida’s prostitution statutes are written quite broadly. Not only are people who participate in the actual act of prostitution subject to criminal penalties, but also many others who are more remotely involved in the activity may be arrested and convicted under the law. For example, people who “force, compel, or coerce” another person into becoming a prostitute and people who “derive support or maintenance” from another person’s earnings through prostitution can potentially be convicted of a felony. Even a person who rents space to another person with the knowledge that the area will be used for a lewd act or an act of prostitution face punishment under Florida’s prostitution laws.

Defining Prostitution Under Florida Statutory Laws

Prostitution is defined as the giving or receiving of one’s body for sexual activity for hire. It is also illegal to “purchase the services” of a person engaged in prostitution or to “solicit, induce, entice, or procure” another person to commit an act of prostitution. A prostitution defense attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg can explain the full scope of these statutes in more detail. Regardless of whether an offender was the alleged “buyer” or “seller” of sexual services, the punishment is determined, at least in part, by whether the defendant is a first offender or whether they have a previous conviction for prostitution or solicitation. Typically, a first offense prostitution conviction is a misdemeanor, but an offender who has previously been convicted of prostitution may be charged with a felony. (Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail; by definition, a felony is a crime that can result in more than one year of incarceration.) If a minor is involved in an act of prostitution, the penalties can be even more severe. One reason for this is the legal presumption that a minor is unable to consent to a sexual act. People who are charged with involving minors in prostitution are usually prosecuted under Florida’s human trafficking statute.

Defending a charge of prostitution or solicitation can be difficult, but it is often possible to defeat an accusation. For example, if the State fails to prove that the sexual act in question was “for hire,” or if the defendant can prove that they were entrapped by police, there may be an acquittal or a dismissal of the charge. The State has a heavy burden of proof in any criminal case – guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – and failing to meet this burden means that the defendant cannot be convicted as charged.

Hire an Experienced Prostitution Defense Lawyer in Clearwater or St. Petersburg

If you have been arrested on a prostitution charge, you need to take steps now to defend yourself. It is not likely that the charge will go away on its own, and talking to police directly can be very dangerous. The warning that “anything you say can and will be used against you in court” is not just something that belongs on TV shows; it is very real. The Fifth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to remain silent, but if this right is waived, the defendant’s own words can be used to secure a conviction. A wise choice is to talk to a seasoned St. Petersburg or Clearwater prostitution defense attorney as soon as possible about ways that you may be able to defend yourself against the State’s allegations. Call 727-897-5413 or contact us online today to schedule an appointment with Will Hanlon. He also represents people in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, and Dade City who need a statutory rape defense lawyer or assistance in fighting other types of sex crime charges.