Is Making Solicitation A Felony in Texas Too Punitive?Published: Mar 12, 2022 in Sex Crimes
If you’re convicted of soliciting prostitution in Texas, you could be in jail from 180 days to two years. But as of September 2021, the punishment has increased under a new law meant to reduce prostitution by making the potential cost much higher for those paying for sex. This means someone arrested for solicitation faces much more serious charges, which are best handled by a lawyer. If you’re arrested for soliciting prostitution, hire a criminal defense attorney because this is a crime with severe consequences.
Texas Seeks to Heavily Penalize Soliciting Prostitution
The new law shows a different approach to controlling prostitution. Texas law is shifting from punishing prostitutes who often suffer from substance abuse and have low incomes to holding their customers, who are from all walks of life, accountable in hopes it will drive down business, combat sex trafficking, and reduce recidivism.
A Tougher Sentence and More Collateral Damage After a Conviction
Soliciting prostitution in Texas is now a state jail felony, which carries possible jail time and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have prior felony convictions for trafficking of persons, continuous sexual abuse of a child or a person who’s disabled, or used a deadly weapon while committing a previous crime, it’s a third-degree felony, so the potential jail time is two to ten years plus a fine up to $10,000.
Imprisonment and a fine are just the beginning. Could you take off six months to serve a sentence and keep your job? If not, and you need a new one after you’re released, many job applications ask whether you have a felony record. Can you afford not to have a paycheck for six months plus pay a fine? Could you continue to pay rent or your mortgage? Who will support your kids?
Is Making Prostitution a Felony an Effective Use of Resources?
The harsher penalties for prostitution under the new law have generated controversy. Supporters hope more severe charges for solicitation will help reduce sex trafficking, which spiked in Texas during the COVID pandemic according to the Human Trafficking Hotline. Advocates also believe it will cut down on repeat offenders.
However, critics have called the potential practice of the law into question. According to NBC News, some believe going after solicitors of prostitution will not help victims of trafficking; instead, they propose that the resources devoted to enforcement protocols such as stings would be better spent supporting social services and legal advocacy.
Will Texas See Results Fighting Prostitution as a Felony?
Regardless of how critics and supporters feel about the new law and its implications, both sides must consider several questions about how its effectiveness will be measured. Will it truly make a difference for victims of sex trafficking? How much police manpower and tax money will be spent arresting solicitors? How many arrests will end in convictions versus dismissals? Will repeat offenders be deterred?
This data will have to be collected and scrutinized before a determination can be made. In any case, Texas has taken a stand against solicitation.