It is illegal to procure sex for money or sell sex for money. It is also illegal to engage in any way in the business of prostitution as a pimp or person who runs a brothel or place of prostitution. Having any such charge on your criminal record could seriously impact your life and your future, whether charged with prostitution, solicitation or any other prostitution-related charges.
Punishment for prostitution can escalate for every subsequent charge.
If you’ve been arrested for selling or buying sex, you can turn to a dedicated defense who can represent you. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we fight for the rights of people accused of prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, being in the prostitution business or sex trafficking.
No matter the charge, you will have an experienced attorney representing you. Also, the partners are also available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Call us at (561) 945-8484 to set up a free consultation to discuss your charges.
We represent people in Palm Beach County, Broward County and Miami-Dade County, including people arrested in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Juno Beach, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Belle Glade.
Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.07 defines prostitution as a person allowing another to hire him or her for sexual activity.
Sexual activity means a broad range of things. It includes vaginal, oral or anal penetration or fondling sexual organs in masturbation.
Under Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.07(f), it is illegal to solicit another to participate in prostitution. People who seek to hire prostitutes are often called “johns.”
It is important for people to understand that is illegal just to ask a person to participate in prostitution — even if the person the accused spoke to is not a prostitute. Sometimes, law enforcement will engage in “stings,” where an undercover officer will act as a prostitute. If a person agrees to pay for service, he or she may be charged with soliciting a prostitute.
Solicitation is a second degree misdemeanor for the first charge, a first degree misdemeanor for the second and a third degree felony for a third or subsequent offense.
If the sex worker the accused is charged with engaging with is a minor, then the charges go up one step. For instance, if the charge would have been a second degree misdemeanor, it would become a first degree misdemeanor if the sex worker is a minor.
The same charges that apply for customers of sex work apply for the sex workers themselves. If you are arrested and charged with offering any type of sexual services for money, you could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor for a first charge, first degree misdemeanor for a second and a third degree felony for a third charge or any conviction thereafter.
Similar to solicitation, it is a crime to offer services, even if the services are not provided. Some sex workers are targeted in sting operations. Massage parlors are often targets of these.
If convicted of being in the business of prostitution other than being the person offering sex work, charges can be the same or worse. This includes if you are convicted of managing sex workers as a "pimp," running a brothel or other establishment that offers sexual services or as a trafficker who brings people into and around the country to work as prostitutes.
For offering another for prostitution, agreeing to obtain sex services for another, owning or operating an establishment for the purpose of prostitution, soliciting people to act as sex workers, or otherwise aid, abet or participate in the business of sex work is the same offense as solicitation: a second degree misdemeanor for a first offense with greater charges for subsequent ones.
If you are convicted of compelling or coercing a person to become a prostitute, it is a third degree felony (Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.04). Selling minors into prostitution, or buying a minor for the purpose of offering him or her for sex work, is a first degree felony (Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.035). Procuring a minor to work in prostitution is a felony of the second degree (Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.03).
It is a third degree felony to knowingly receive support or maintenance from a person if the accused knows that the money came from prostitution (Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.05). It is a second degree misdemeanor for a first offense and a first degree misdemeanor for a second offense to knowingly rent space that will be used for prostitution (Florida Statutes Annotated § 796.06).
As with solicitation charges, any accusation involving a minor as a sex worker will cause charges to go up one level, unless the offense was already one specific to minors (like selling minors into prostitution).
Charges for prostitution and solicitation depend on the specific grading of the offense:
Charges will remain on your record. Unfortunately, even though many people begin sex work because they have few other opportunities or because they were forced to do so, there is heavy stigma for people charged with prostitution. You may have trouble finding a job, and landlords may be hesitant to rent to you.
A Palm Beach defense attorney may be able to help you avoid these consequences and that record. A lawyer can point out the reasonable doubt and seek to exclude damaging evidence that was illegally obtained.
Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking: This nonprofit organization seeks to fight sex trafficking and assist the victims.
The Polaris Project: This is an international organization combating slavery, including commercial sex trafficking.
If you are charge with any charged with any crime involving prostitution, including as a customer, sex worker or purpose in the business of prostitution, it's important that you act quickly. Call a dedicated West Palm Beach prostitution lawyer at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today. We are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and the sooner we get started, the better. Contact us at (561) 945-8484 to set up a consultation.