If you tell most people that someone was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, they might imagine some guy driving late at night in a run-down neighborhood offering money to random prostitutes on the street.
Any experienced criminal defense lawyer in Miami knows that there’s potentially a lot more to it – or, quite possibly, a lot less. The fact of the matter is that an arrest can occur for many reasons, and this is a crime that you can be accused of just by using words. Here are four things you must know if you’re arrested for soliciting a prostitute in south Florida.
An Arrest Can Result from Many Situations
There are many ways you could find yourself under arrest for soliciting a prostitute, even if you’re not the type of person who ordinarily—or ever—intended to offer any kind of compensation for intimate activity.
Maybe you made a bad mistake that was completely out of character for you. Or you were drinking when you responded to an attractive person’s attention, but you didn’t pick up on the language she used to suggest she was offering sexual activity in exchange for money.
Or maybe you responded to a craigslist or backpage ad online that indicated openness to a casual relationship, but the poster turned out to be someone seeking money or drugs in exchange for sexual acts – or undercover police officers instead. A sting in Daytona Beach a few months ago targeted such posters and less than a year ago 570 men were arrested for soliciting in a single coordinated nationwide sting.
In short, you don’t have to be prowling around a high crime neighborhood late at night to find yourself under arrest for soliciting. Police departments often decide to aggressively target people allegedly soliciting prostitutes, and they can be creative in their efforts. For example, the West Palm Beach Police Department recently announced that it’s beefing up efforts to go after prostitution – not just the prostitutes, but anyone soliciting them.
Money Talk – You Can Be Arrested Even if Nothing Happens and No Money Changes Hands
The section of Florida law focusing on prostitution and related acts is Section 796.07. This addresses not only prostitution, “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire,” but also “assignation.” “Assignation” means the making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement.
What does that mean? Money doesn’t even have to be exchanged – just the offer of money or other compensation in exchange for sexual activity can subject you to criminal liability. It’s unnecessary for a sexual act to be actually committed. Indeed, a woman was recently arrested after she offered sex in exchange for a meal from a fast food restaurant. Finally, it’s not even necessary that the person solicited is willing or able to commit prostitution. If you’re accused of saying the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter that nothing happened, nothing could have happened, and nothing would have happened – you can still find yourself under arrest.
Or you were in a strip club and you said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Police have periodically run operations against adult entertainment establishments in Miami and Miami Beach, as well as other locations in south Florida, which have resulted in prostitution arrests.
Cops in Cuffs – It doesn’t make any difference that in south Florida prostitution stings, law enforcement officers often end up under arrest themselves for solicitation. It’s ironic that these stings often catch police officers or deputy sheriffs in their net, as Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office learned recently and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office learned a few years ago. Heck, even the Miami Gardens Police Chief got arrested for soliciting a prostitute almost a year ago.
But that won’t make your case any more pleasant if you get arrested yourself.
The Jail and Fine You Face Are the Least of Your Problems
Most first offenses related to prostitution or solicitation are second degree misdemeanors, which can mean up to 60 days in jail and a special prostitution “john” fine of up to $5000 plus court costs. A second violation of most of those offenses under Section 796.07 is a first degree misdemeanor, which means you could face up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine plus court costs.
But for most people arrested for solicitation, fines or jail is the least of their problems. The personal, professional, and financialconsequences you could face the rest of your life are far greater problems.
Even an arrest can lead to your name and picture ending up on a mugshot web site or in a local newspaper article about prostitutes and johns.
No matter how the arrest occurred, how would you tell your spouse about an arrest or conviction for solicitation? In the era of Google, what happens when a potential date looks up your name and finds your mugshot or a local newspaper article saying that you were arrested for soliciting a prostitute? If you have a professional license or you’ve applied for a job requiring a background check, how do you think a current or potential employer will react if they see a conviction for solicitation? What is your current immigration status, and how will it be affected by an arrest or conviction?
Let’s face it, a charge for soliciting a prostitute can be devastating to your career and future. Maybe your career won’t be hurt too badly – if you’re someone like Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, or Hugh Grant.
But for virtually anybody else, even if you’re in the NFL Hall of Fame like Warren Sapp, your career can be destroyed. Now more than ever, it’s crucial you do everything possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed. To give yourself the greatest odds for the best outcome …
You Need an Experienced, Aggressive, Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Lawyer
You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights and do everything he can to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Someone with the knowledge and experience to thoroughly investigate the entire circumstances of your arrest to develop every possible defense you may have.
Were you the victim of entrapment? Mistaken identity or miscommunication? Did the cops violate your Miranda rights? Your criminal defense lawyer needs to get to the bottom of your case and fight hard for your freedom and reputation.
If you’ve been arrested for solicitation or prostitution in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, or Key West, you need to get the best criminal defense attorney you can. No matter who you end up hiring, I strongly urge you to read “Five Questions to Ask a Lawyer: Your Guide for Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Miami.” Then look over “Three Tips on Selecting the Best Criminal Lawyer for Your Case.”
If you follow that advice and research your options, you’ll learn that hiring an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive criminal defense attorney is more affordable than you would ever have hoped. Then you’ll be well on your way to getting the best lawyer on your side to fight for your rights.
You need the best help you can get as soon as possible after your arrest. Please, don’t think that you’re saving yourself money or trouble by walking into a conviction or no contest plea: you may just find out in the years ahead that your boss or your date thinks that solicitation is a much bigger deal than the term “misdemeanor” implies.
Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you can follow Miami Criminal Attorney Albert M. Quirantes on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.