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Elements of a Prostitution Conviction in Texas

Published: Apr 24, 2018 in Sex Crimes

Prostitution is a serious crime in Texas. The offense may be committed in several ways, depending on whether you are the suspected client, prostitute, or pimp. Regardless of the specific charge you are targeted with, you face a tarnished reputation and significant penalties if convicted. When attempting to convict an individual of prostitution in Texas, prosecutors must carefully build their cases, because any hole in the prosecution’s case may be exploited by a skilled prostitution lawyer.

If you’re facing prostitution charges in Texas, contact a Houston criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

How Do Prosecutors Prove Prostitution in Texas?

The prosecutor’s job is to compile enough evidence against you to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed an illegal act of prostitution. The definitions of such illegal acts are provided in the Texas Penal Code (PC):

  • Prostitution (PC Section 43.02(a)) – When you knowingly offer, agree to, or actually exchange sex acts for money or any item of value.
  • Solicitation (PC Section 43.02(b)) – When you knowingly request someone to engage in a sexual act in exchange for money or items of value in a public place.
  • Pimping (PC Section 43.03) – Knowingly receiving money or other property pursuant to an agreement to share the proceeds from prostitution, or asking another person to prostitute themselves in exchange for compensation.

What this boils down to is that a prosecutor will need evidence of the following elements in order to successfully convict you:

The element of knowledge is central to most criminal prosecutions, and it follows an ancient legal principle: you can only be held accountable for things you did knowingly or intentionally. The prosecutor’s job in a solicitation case is to show that you believed that the person you were talking to was a prostitute.

Attempting or Actually Committing Sex Acts
When it comes to prostitution, you may be convicted even if you never accomplish a sexual act. For example, you may be convicted of prostitution for offering to exchange sex for money. This doesn’t require any proof that you actually had sex. The crime of solicitation occurs by definition once a request for paid sex is made in public. As for pimping, the offense is activated by the actual receipt of proceeds from prostitution, or by requesting such an agreement with someone.

Exchange of Sex for Something of Value
For prostitution crimes, the prosecutor needs to show that someone offered money or an item of value in exchange for sex. What constitutes an item of value is not always clear. For example, a promise to pay for someone’s rent might not meet the standard of “money or item of value” under the statute. Additionally, the prosecutor needs to show that sexual conduct was part of the deal. This is because it’s completely legal to pay someone for certain physical contact, such as a massage.

To prove these elements, the prosecutor will need convincing evidence. Prostitution often occurs behind closed doors, so there usually aren’t enough witnesses who can testify to every element of the crime. For this reason, police often pose as either prostitutes or clients in the hopes of tricking people into committing an offense. The undercover police officer thus becomes the main witness to the prosecutor’s case.

Entrapment as a Defense

Sometimes police cross the line and commit entrapment. Texas Penal Code defines entrapment as law enforcement methods that cause people to commit crimes. Some common forms of entrapment in prostitution cases include offering huge sums of money in exchange for sex, making a showing of extreme pity, or causing you to become intoxicated.

How Can a Houston Prostitution Lawyer Help?

At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we will not stand for the police entrapping law-abiding citizens and accusing them of crimes of indecency. We have a proven track record of effectively defending our clients against aggressive prosecutors in high-stakes cases. For your free case evaluation, contact us at (713) 222-6767 today.