Florida Solicitation Lawyer

Solicitation of prostitution refers to requesting someone to engage in an exchange of sex for money. Both sex workers and clients can engage in solicitation. In these instances, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could provide clarity surrounding a possible charge.

In addition to genuine interactions between sex workers, clients, and others involved in the sex trade, people may get solicitation charges from sting operations. In a sting operation, an undercover police officer pretends to be a sex worker or a client and looks for people trying to engage in illegal behavior. A Florida solicitation lawyer could explain entrapment or other potential defenses as they apply to a case.

Understanding Prostitution Charges

Florida Statutes § 777.04(2) outlines the crime of solicitation, which is requesting another to engage in conduct that would be a criminal offense. While solicitation refers to all crimes, prosecutors most commonly use it in conjunction with sex offenses. Asking another to engage in a sexual act for money is the solicitation of prostitution. The person does not need to complete or even attempt the underlying crime because solicitation is a stand-alone offense. The theory is that solicitation encourages both the objectification of people and the more significant crime of human trafficking.

Under state law, general solicitation is a misdemeanor offense. That means the potential sentence could be up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, like other prostitution-related offenses, multiple offenses could greatly enhance possible punishments. The state may charge a second offense as a third-degree felony. Those felonies come with a potential $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors will consider the circumstances of the offense when making charging decisions including details about any power imbalances between the alleged sex worker and the individual accused of soliciting services. The greater the imbalance, the more it could seem as if an individual is being taken advantage of. This means accused parties may face more significant penalties for solicitation than sex workers would face unless the sex worker initiates the contact. A solicitation lawyer in Florida may be able to resolve the issue without going to court by discussing the circumstances with the prosecutor.

Soliciting Minors

An adult who proposes sexual activity to a child engages in soliciting, regardless of whether or not they offer money in exchange for sex. That distinguishes the act from solicitation of prostitution, which requires an offer of money.

When people think of sexual offenses against children, they probably think of physical acts. Under Florida Stat. § 794.011(8), solicitation, or attempting to entice a child to engage in a sexual act, is a crime. It is a felony offense that could require someone to register as a sex offender.

Even though solicitation does not require a person to complete an underlying act, getting closer to completion increases potential penalties. For example, if an adult travels to meet a minor they solicited for sexual activity, this increases the offense to a second-degree felony. The potential penalty also increases, with a fine of up to $10,000 and a possible prison sentence of 15 years. Meeting with a solicitation lawyer in Florida to understand potential penalties and offenses is essential.

Potential Solicitation Defenses

One of the most troubling details about a solicitation charge is that it punishes speech without requiring further steps to complete the illegal behavior. Theoretically, there could be many steps between an initial act of solicitation and the completion of any other criminal behavior. So, the charge seems to punish people for intent rather than an actual harmful behavior.

Some potential defenses to a solicitation charge are mistaken identity, no solicitation, and entrapment. Solicitation requires offering to exchange money for sexual acts. So, if a person did not request a sexual act but made a more general request, the state may not be able to prove the offense.

In a sting, the police play the role of a sex worker or a child and attempt to get people to suggest illegal behavior, like prostitution or sexual battery. Stings lead to many solicitation charges. However, the police must be cautious in their behavior as exerting any pressure may be entrapment. When solicitation charges are the result of a sting in Florida, it is vital to consult with a solicitation attorney to discuss potential defenses.

Contact a Florida Solicitation Attorney to Protect Your Rights

While solicitation may seem minor, it could have significant social and legal consequences. In addition to facing potential jail time and fines, you could face job loss, damage to your reputation, and damage to your relationships.

It is vital to find a discrete and reputable Florida solicitation lawyer to help you. An attorney could review the facts of your case, explain them to you, and discuss potential defenses and strategies. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.