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.” 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.
In these types of cases, police will go to great lengths to make undercover arrests. 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. 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.
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. However, even when the case is dismissed, an arrest remains on the person’s record, which can cause problems with employers down the road. 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.