It is a very serious crime in Florida to solicit prostitution. According to Florida Statute 796.07(2), the law makes it clear that “solicit, induce, entire, or procure another to commit prostitution.” In addition, to purchase the services of any person who is engaged in prostitution is also a crime. The definition of Florida Statute 796.07(1) says that the act of unmarried persons who give or receive sexual activity for money is a crime. However, the statute excludes sexual acts “done for bona fide medical purposes.”
What is Considered as Sexual Activity?
According to the statute, sexual activity is defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; or the handling or fondling of the sexual organ of another for the purpose of masturbation.” Additionally, the statutes also make lewdness a crime, which it defines as “any indecent or obscene act.” Because this language is so vague, it would be easy to challenge it as unconstitutional.
What are Prostitution Stings?
Occasionally, law enforcement may conduct a “sting,” which is an undercover operation where officers pose as prostitutes. One example is when for six days in September of 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported the arrest of 32 men who were charged by the Florida Police Department for soliciting a female undercover officer for prostitution. Like a scene from the show Law & Order, the officer, while wearing a wire and looking for customers at a gas station in the intersection of a major city as the supervising officer, from an unmarked car monitored the situation.
Naturally, the attorneys for the men all argued that the men were entrapped because the officers did not wait for the men to approach them for sex. Allegedly, the officer approached them offering to give them oral sex for $30. The attorneys also moved to have the cases dismissed on constitutional due process grounds, while they challenged the arrest and evidence.
What Is At Stake?
Prostitution penalties can be very serious, mainly due to multiple offences are considered felonies, which can lead to years in jail. If there is only one violation, that is considered a misdemeanor in the second degree, which is punishable by a 60 day jail term and a fine of $500. If there are two violations, that is considered a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is punishable by a one year jail term and a fine of $1,000. Three or more violations are considered a felony in the third degree, which is punishable by a 5 year jail term and a $5,000 fine.
Additionally, if prohibition on solicitation is violated, the person will be assessed a fine of $5,000 civil penalty, in case there is a judicial disposition besides that of a dismissal or acquittal, and $500 will go to the circuit court administrator, which will pay for what it will cost for treatment based drug courts, and the remaining $4,500 will go to DCFS or Department of Children and Family Services to pay for safe housing. Additionally, anyone who is convicted of soliciting prostitution or other crimes under the Florida Statute 796.07, will be required to be screened for STD’s, including HIV, and if found infected, must submit to treatment according to Florida Statute 796.08.
The former statute also provides other offenses for people who, prior to committing a sexual offense was tested and found positive for an STD, or they had been told they may pass on an STD to other people through sexual contact. Furthermore, the Tampa, Florida city ordinance, Section 14-03, says there is a provision that will impound cars that are proven to be used for lewdness and or prostitution. Additionally, it also provides not a criminal, but a civil penalty, and a defense in case the vehicle’s owners were not aware of the offense.
Legal Help for Defense of Prostitution in Florida
For those who have been charged or arrested for prostitution, you are advised to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney prior to speaking to the police. If you have been charged with solicitation, there are some defenses that include entrapment, so it is important that you speak with a lawyer before giving a police statement.
Tampa Criminal Lawyer, Will Hanlon is a Tampa Attorney who specializes in sex crimes including sexual assault, rape, molestation and false accusations of sexual related crimes. Contact us at our website to learn more.