By: James Davis
As in most states that criminalize prostitution, in Florida it is illegal to be on either side of the bargain when it comes to prostitution. Legally speaking, only the person offering to provide sexual services is guilty of “prostitution;” the person in search of the services is actually guilty of “solicitation of prostitution.” It may be surprising, but solicitation actually comes with a stiffer penalty that prostitution itself. Both prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are classified as second-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to 60 days in jail for a first offense.
But liability for prostitution doesn’t stop there; because Florida’s laws forbidding prostitution are very broad, criminal liability often extends beyond the prostitute and her John. Anyone who assists in the business of prostitution may face criminal charges. For example, it is against the law to rent a room, trailer, or home to someone who the owner knows is engaging in prostitution. The same goes for offering to give someone a ride to a location where they will engage in prostitution. These crimes are just as serious as the primary offense and carry with them the same second-degree-misdemeanor designation. Simply put, the law punishes anyone who assists in the cycle of prostitution, from beginning to end.
The way the law is structured, the crime of solicitation is complete well before anyone actually engaged in a sexual act. The forbidden conduct is to “induce” or “entice” another into committing prostitution. Think of this as “encouraging” someone. For example, an offer to pay someone for a sexual act violates the law, because it is inducing them to engage in prostitution. This is still the case even if it is uncertain whether the person will accept.
The punishments for prostitution can be stiff and expensive. As mentioned above, a first offense is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail. That is already a serious charge; but keep in mind, the punishments get more severe for future offenses. For a second-offense it is a first-degree misdemeanor. For subsequent offenses the crime is considered a third-degree felony. Third degree felonies are punishable by up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine.
The bottom line is that both prostitution and solicitation of prostitution charges are serious, especially if it is not the first offense. To prevent the substantial likelihood of ending up in jail, you need to have someone who is experienced in these matters available for your defense. The Law Office of James Davis has that experience. Attorney James Davis has represented thousands of clients faced with criminal charges in all matters ranging from prostitution and solicitation of prostitution, sex crimes, drug charges, and assaultive offenses. If you have been charged with any of these serious crimes, contact Attorney James Davis to set up a meeting to discuss your case.