ST. PETERSBURG PROSTITUTION ATTORNEYS
Florida Laws for Engaging in Prostitution
Sex work is on the rise in Florida. In 2017, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released arrest reports concerning prostitution, which revealed that 2,468 people were arrested for prostitution-related offenses. Now more than ever, law enforcement is on high alert to enforce penalties for prostitution.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for engaging in prostitution, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You may face serious penalties, including possible jail or prison time. If you’re convicted for a third time, you may face felony charges.
Law enforcement frequently conducts prostitution stings in Florida. It’s common for undercover officers to peruse the streets looking for a “date.” Often, these stings are videotaped and create some compelling evidence. If you or someone you know has been charged with committing prostitution, it’s important that you gain legal representation.
Find quality legal representation with the attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. Our attorneys are not only skilled in the courtroom; they are compassionate with every client. We will discuss all your options to help you get the best possible outcome.
What is Prostitution?
The world’s “oldest profession” is not legal in the state of Florida. Florida Statute § 796.07 states that it’s illegal to engage in or offer to engage in prostitution. The statute also includes any acts of assignation or lewdness. Lewdness is an obscene or indecent act, and assignation is when a person makes an appointment for prostitution.
Florida’s Jury Instructions Section 23.7 outlines the elements the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for prostitution.
- The defendant offered to engage in prostitution, lewdness, or assignation; and
- During the offense, the defendant was 18 years or older.
Florida also has laws concerning forced prostitution. Florida Statute § 796.04 states it’s illegal to force, compel, or coerce another person into prostitution. Victims of sex trafficking will not be prosecuted for prostitution.
Florida Penalties for Engaging in Prostitution
A prostitution conviction can lead to harsh penalties. The legal consequences for prostitution depend on the offender’s criminal history.
A first-time prostitution offense is a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
- Up to 60 days in jail; and
- A possible $500 fine.
A second prostitution offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, which can result in:
- Up to one year in jail; and
- A possible fine of up to $1,000.
A third prostitution conviction will result in a third-degree felony, which is punishable by:
- Up to five years in prison; and
- A possible fine of up to $5,000.
People who force or compel others to commit sex trafficking may be charged with forced prostitution. Forced prostitution is also a third-degree felony.
It’s important to note a felony conviction carries additional consequences. Released felons have a very difficult time assimilating back into society. They may have problems gaining housing, employment or maintaining personal relationships. Felons are also prohibited from owning firearms and may have to disclose their conviction in job interviews.
Drug Court for Sex Workers in Florida
Some people choose to commit prostitution for the financial aspect. However, many people are involved in sex work because of drugs. Florida has recognized that drug use can lead to criminal activity, so they created drug court. Drug court offers you a way to stay sober and avoid statutory penalties.
Offenders may commit crimes because they are desperate to obtain drugs. The purpose of drug court is to stop this vicious cycle of drug abuse and criminal activity. If you are accepted into a drug court program, you won’t have to face criminal penalties. Instead, you will be required to complete the conditions of the program. Once the program is completed, the charges may be dropped or reduced.
The court will review your charges to assess if you’re eligible for drug court. Florida Statute § 397.334(3) states the following factors the court will consider when deliberating drug court.
- Your criminal history;
- The outcome of a substance abuse screening;
- Your willingness to enter the program;
- The recommendation of the state attorney, defense attorney, and victim; and
- Total sentence points.
Not everyone is eligible for drug court. Crimes that are too violent or offenders with a long criminal history cannot qualify. If you meet the following criteria, you can participate in a drug court program.
- The offense was a third-degree and non-violent felony;
- The crime was committed on or after July 1, 2009;
- You have less than 52 sentence points;
- You are willing to enter substance abuse treatment;
- You thoroughly understand the program; and
- You have no current or previous forcible felony convictions.
Solicitation of Prostitution
Sex workers have become a lot more accessible thanks to the internet. Websites such as Craigslist have become a haven for escorts and their customers. However, compensating another person for sexual activity is illegal in Florida. Soliciting a prostitute can result in serious consequences, including expensive fines and possible incarceration.
If you or someone you know has been charged with solicitation of prostitution, it’s important that you contact an experienced attorney. Soliciting a prostitute is a serious crime that could affect your daily life. You could have a criminal record and have difficulty gaining employment.
Attorney for Soliciting Prostitution
Have you been charged with soliciting a prostitute? You could face severe penalties, including potential prison time. It’s important that you don’t speak a word to law enforcement and contact an attorney. An attorney can assess your case and develop a defense strategy for your charges.
Contact the attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. to have your case analyzed. We represent numerous clients in sex crimes and can provide you with excellent legal counsel. Our attorneys will collect evidence, file motions, and defend your rights in court.
Soliciting a Prostitute Under Florida Law
Florida law states it’s illegal to solicit, entice, induce, or procure another person into prostitution. The statute also includes acts of lewdness or assignation. This means you can be arrested for prostitution without engaging in sexual activity.
The Florida Jury Instructions Section 23.2 states the elements for solicitation that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. These instructions state that:
- The alleged offender either offered, offered to secure, or agreed to secure a place; and
- The alleged offender intended to commit prostitution or a lewd act.
Penalties for Soliciting a Prostitute in Florida
Compensating, or the attempt to pay for a prostitute, can result in legal consequences. The penalties for solicitation of prostitution depend on your criminal history. It’s important that you know there are additional mandatory penalties for soliciting a prostitute.
In 2015, Florida passed the new “John” bill. The bill added penalties for those convicted of soliciting a prostitute.
The new law requires every person convicted for soliciting a prostitute to also do the following:
- Pay a $5,000 fine;
- Complete 100 hours of community service;
- Attend a human trafficking and prostitution awareness course; and
- Be screened for any sexually transmissible diseases (STDs).
In addition to the above penalties, a first-time conviction for prostitution is a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor includes:
- Up to one year in jail; and
- A possible fine of up to $1,000.
Take note that if you solicit a prostitute a second time, you may have a mandatory jail sentence of at least 10 days. A second solicitation offense is a third-degree felony, and the penalties include:
- Up to five years in prison;
- A possible fine of up to $5,000; and
- Possible vehicle impoundment or immobilization for up to 60 days.
A third solicitation offense also carries a mandatory 10-day jail sentence. Third-time convicted offenders may face a second-degree felony, which is punishable by:
- Up to 15 years in prison;
- A possible fine of up to $10,000;
- Possible vehicle impoundment or immobilization for up to 60 days.
Statute of Limitations
All crimes have a statute of limitations or a time limit for prosecutors to file criminal charges. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to preserve the integrity of evidence and eyewitnesses. In Florida, the statute of limitations is classified by the degree of offense.
Listed below are the statute of limitations for soliciting a prostitute in Florida.
- First Offense – 2 Years
- Second Offense – 3 Years
- Third or Subsequent Offense – 3 Years
Pinellas County Drug Court – Visit the official website for Pinellas County courts to find more information about Pinellas County’s drug court program. Access the site to learn more about the conditions of the program, how long drug court is, and relevant contact information.
Annual Human Trafficking Report – Visit the official website for the Florida Department of Children and Families 2016-2017 annual human trafficking report. Access the document to learn more about what human trafficking is, statistics for sex trafficking, and resources for victims of forced prostitution.
Florida Prostitution Laws – Visit the official website for the Florida Senate to access the statutes concerning prostitute. Access the laws to learn more about how prostitution is defined, the penalties for engaging in prostitution, and the penalties for running a prostitution house.
St. Pete Vice & Narcotics Unit – Visit the official website for the St. Petersburg Police Department to learn more about their vice unit. Access the site to learn about the investigation unit for prostitution, gambling, narcotics, and other street-level crimes.
Soliciting a prostitute can land you in serious hot water. If convicted, you could be forced to pay large fines and serve possible prison or jail time. Now, thanks to the new “John” law, you will be forced to pay a $5,000 fine and fulfill other conditions for each conviction.
Thankfully, you have options. Don’t say a word to law enforcement, and call the attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. Our attorneys are skilled at defending those accused of solicitation. We will utilize every resource available to get the best possible results for you.
Call us now at (727) 592-5885 to schedule a free consultation.
Melinda Morris is a former prosecutor and has handled thousands of criminal cases from investigation through sentencing enabling us to identify weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
We never settle for the easiest outcome or the typical result. We know how to negotiate with the State Attorney and we will work to get you the best possible outcome.
Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.
We will know every client’s story because we will take the time to listen and understand. You will work with your attorney one-on-one at every stage of the process.
You will have the cell phone number of your attorney. Your attorney will directly return your call, email, or text to answer your pressing questions.
The government is wasting no time in trying to prove your guilt, a proactive defense is imperative. Prompt and decisive action from your defense attorney is of critical importance.
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