DC Criminal law outlaws several prostitution related crimes. Police agencies in DC routinely conduct undercover operations in an effort to arrest people who they think are engaging in prostitution related activities. The two main prostitution related crimes in DC are “solicitation for prostitution” and “sexual solicitation.”
What is the maximum penalty for solicitation of prostitution in DC?
Both crimes carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $500.00 fine for first offenders. For second offenders, the maximum penalty is 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Penalties increase for third and additional offenses. However, to get the enhanced penalty, the government must file “enhancement papers,” which is only done in rare cases.
The maximum penalty, however, is rarely given in these types of cases in DC. Most judges in the District of Columbia Superior Court sentence defendants who are convicted of solicitation type offenses to probation. However, a much harder line is taken for pandering, sex trafficking, and any sexual offense involving a minor. In fact, federal sex crimes, including those involving child pornography, carry incredibly severe prison sentences. Any offense involving sexual abuse of a minor can expect lengthy prison sentences in local or federal court.
What is a prostitution sting?
In these types of cases, police will go to great lengths to make undercover arrests. That is because it would be very difficult to prove that two adults engaged in prostitution unless at least one of the two who enter the agreement are an undercover cop. For example, in one case during trial, a police officer admitted to drinking alcohol while driving to further convince the sting target that he was not a cop. In addition, police will try and get the sting target to agree to money in exchange for sex. Often times, the undercover officer will not record the conversation and may make the arrest regardless of what the sting target says or does.
Sadly, DC police often go after Uber or Taxicab drivers where they attempt to get the driver’s attention and then proposition sex. Because most conversations are not recorded, it basically comes down to the defendant versus the police officer’s word in a prostitution trial. At trial, the police officer may then testify that the sting target did in fact agree to money in exchange for sex. Some judges in DC have found that such testimony is enough to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, its important to consult with a DC criminal lawyer who has experience successfully cross-examining undercover officers. If the officer is not being truthful, a good cross-examination can help point out inconsistencies in officer’s testimony and create reasonable doubt, which may lead to a not guilty verdict.
Are their diversion options in prostitution cases?
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes prostitution related offense and has a number of diversion options available for first offenders. Prosecutors will usually offer some form of diversion in prostitution or solicitation type cases. These agreements typically involve the defendant agreeing not to get arrested for a period of months and doing community service in exchange for dismissal of the charges. However, even if the charges ultimately get dismissed, the defendant still has the arrest on their record.
Can solicitation charges be expunged?
As previously stated, even when the case is dismissed, an arrest remains on the person’s record, which can cause problems with employers down the road. Prostitution or solicitation arrests can be sealed two years form the date of dismissal. If the Court convicts an individual for a solicitation or prostitution charge, then the defendant must wait 8 years to get the court and arrest record sealed up. For more serious offenses like pandering, expungement is not an option.
What is pandering?
Pandering is the legal term for what is commonly known as “pimping”. The statute defines it as “place or cause, induce, entice, procure, or compel” someone into another’s custody or house with intent for the person to engage in prostitution. The statute also applies to causing a person to reside or continue to reside in a house or with a person to engage in prostitution. Pandering is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and/or a $12,500.00 fine.
Should I hire an attorney for a prostitution or solicitation charge?
Anytime someone is arrested, their liberty is potentially at stake. Accordingly, if you or a loved one are arrested for any criminal offense, its important to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with experience handling solicitation and prostitution type offenses in DC Superior Court can advise you on what your options are, negotiate with the prosecutor, and advocate on your behalf to protect your rights.
Therefore, its important to hire a DC solicitation lawyer who has experience in these types of cases as well as experience getting arrest records expunged. Contact Scrofano Law for a consultation.