Defending Against Solicitation of Prostitution in HoustonPublished: Mar 23, 2022 in Sex Crimes
Under Texas statute, solicitation of prostitution is defined as knowingly offering or agreeing to pay to have sex with someone. A conviction won’t just leave you with a jail sentence and fines — the state labels you as a felony offender and significantly limits your rights.
How are People Arrested for Solicitation of Prostitution?
Law enforcement uses several tactics to arrest those suspected of soliciting prostitution, including undercover sting operations. These occur when the police go undercover to try to catch you in the act.
In-Person Sting Operations
When sting operations occur in person, an undercover officer who appears to be a prostitute will engage you in conversation. Law enforcement will use video cameras or recording devices to monitor this interaction. After you apparently solicit sex for money, you’re suddenly surrounded and arrested.
Online Sting Operations
These operations are also conducted online through Craigslist advertising, chat rooms, or social media. After corresponding with a police officer portraying a prostitute online, you set up a meeting. If you haven’t already offered payment for sex online, you do it in person in a setting with hidden microphones and cameras. After that’s documented, officers come into the room and arrest you.
Are These Methods Effective?
A well-run sting operation could lead to dozens of arrests. In 2021, the Houston Police Department reported 389 “purchasing prostitution” charges out of 246,980 total charges that year.
Defending Against Solicitation of Prostitution Charges
Have you been accused of solicitation of prostitution? A strong defense starts with the evidence. This comes in the form of emails, texts, social media posts, or conversations.
What Was Your Intent?
The prosecution must prove that you intended to commit solicitation of prostitution. Did you offer or agree to do anything? Simply talking about sex without making an offer or agreeing to one won’t result in a crime. Suppose you did offer or agree to do something. Was it to pay someone for sex? Showing interest in having sex without the intention of paying for it is not a crime.
Were You Enticed by Police to Commit a Crime?
A common defense in sting operations is entrapment. It occurs when the police manipulate, persuade, or induce you to commit a crime that you ordinarily wouldn’t commit. Using this defense carries risks because it involves you admitting that you did what the prosecution claims.
However, if your intent was not made clear, the recording itself is hard to understand, or the police were overly encouraging you to commit a crime, you could have a strong defense.
What Are the Penalties if I’m Convicted?
Depending on the circumstances, a solicitation of prostitution conviction would lead to one of the following penalties:
- State Jail Felony – Confinement for 180 days to two years; fines up to $10,000
- Third-degree Felony – 2 to 10 years in jail; fines up to $10,000
- Second-degree Felony – Prison time from two to 20 years; fines up to $10,000
Factors like prior convictions and the alleged victim’s age will all be considered when determining your sentence.
How You Can Help Your Case
There are several things you can do to benefit your case. First, it’s essential to exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in the court of law. It’s tempting to explain your side of the story to clear your name. However, it’s best to leave that to your attorney.
Be honest with your attorney and provide any information or evidence that can help your case. Anything like emails, texts, or other means of communication could be used.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
A criminal defense lawyer investigates their client’s situation, reviews the evidence, and tries to find defenses that could result in dismissed or reduced charges.
They’ll Negotiate with the Prosecution
With your consent, your lawyer and the prosecutor may reach an agreement. It may be a guilty plea to a lesser charge with a given sentence. If going to trial is the best option, your attorney will do their best to defend you.
They’ll Defend You at Trial
Suppose those efforts are unsuccessful, and a favorable plea agreement can’t be worked out. In that scenario, the case goes to trial where your attorney will argue how and why the prosecution can’t carry its burden of proof. A lawyer may find problems with your case and convince the prosecution to withdraw charges or successfully argue to the judge to dismiss the case.
They’ll Offer Experienced Representation
The best reason to hire a criminal defense attorney is that they have years of skill and experience. Those qualities may result in dropped or reduced charges. That can mean much less impact on your freedom, family, and future.
Contact a Proven Houston Solicitation Lawyer
If you’re charged with solicitation of prostitution, you need the experience and skill of Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett on your side. You can contact the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at 713-222-6767 to learn how he can help defend you.