Solicitation of Prostitution
Caught in a Pinellas County Prostitution Sting Operation?
— Are Words Alone Enough? —
Simply “soliciting” (asking) a person to engage in prostitution is an unlawful act. This is known as Solicitation of Prostitution and constitutes a criminal offense. Under Florida Statute 796.07(2)(i), the actual exchange of money for sex is not necessary to secure a conviction for solicitation. Nor is it required that a sexual act be performed. In fact, the mere offer of money in exchange for “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity” will subject a person to criminal liability. For this reason, the crime of “Solicitation of Prostitution” is one of those relatively rare examples of a crime that can be committed by words alone.
What Are the Penalties for Solicitation of Prostitution?
In addition to the significant stigma attached to this offense, many people find that the penalties they face upon conviction are both embarrassing and burdensome. Consider the following sanctions that are available to the Court:
A Visit to the Health Department
If you are convicted of violating Florida’s prostitution statute, the judges in Pinellas County will require, as a routine matter, that you submit to screening for sexually transmitted diseases. If you test positive for any STD, you must undergo appropriate treatment and counseling prior to your release from supervision. The results of the STD screen will be made available to court personnel, the prosecutor, and the judge.
A Public Announcement on Television
Upon conviction, the St. Petersburg Police Department will televise your name and photograph over Cable Channel WSPF 35 and Broadcast Channel 15 on their “Prostitutes and Johns” program. You can expect that your information will be broadcast 2-3 times a week for as long as three months. Accordingly, anyone in the area who owns a television will have access to this potentially embarrassing and damaging information.
The Mandatory Suspension of Your Driver’s License
If you used a motor vehicle in connection with the offense, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will automatically revoke your driver’s license. See Florida Statutes ss. 322.26(7).
Fines and the Possibility of Jail
On a first offense Solicitation for Prostitution, you will be subject to as much as a $1,000.00 fine and court costs. Although incarceration is not mandated by the legislature, the Judge does have the discretion to sentence you for up to one year in the county jail. You may also be required to reimburse the State for the cost of the police investigation as it relates to your case.
Note: In the past, the Pinellas County Criminal Justice System would often impose a requirement that the defendant attend and complete “john’s school” or “prostitution school” as a method of impressing upon offenders the idea that solicitation of prostitution was not a “victimless crime.” However, the “prostitution school” in Pinellas County has been defunded and, at present, is no longer a possible sentencing option for the Court.
Getting the right outcome may help you to avoid having your name and photograph broadcast on television. It may also allow you to bypass the otherwise mandatory suspension of your driving privileges. Additionally, by avoiding formal conviction, you may be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged. Here are some of the ways that we may be able to help:
Prompt Intervention with the Pinellas County Prosecutor
- Even though you have been arrested or charged with a Solicitation of Prostitution, the prosecutor is not necessarily required to bring a formal charge against you. There are times when our early intervention may be effective by giving the prosecutor your version of the facts.
- An experienced lawyer’s quick action on your behalf may be successful in halting prosecution at this early stage. Such “pre-filing” intervention may cause the prosecutor to decide not to file any charges at all or to pursue a lesser offense.
Getting the Charge Dismissed – Pre-Trial Intervention
- Our clients charged with this offense may be candidates who can potentially take advantage of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (P.T.I.). We can draft an application on your behalf and advocate for your acceptance into this diversionary program.
- For an agreed-upon period of time, you would be required to avoid new charges or arrests.
- Upon completing all conditions of the program, the charge pending against you is dismissed.
Click here for more information on Pre-Trial Intervention / Diversion Programs.
Avoiding Conviction – Withhold of Adjudication
We may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor in your case for a “withhold of adjudication.” Such an agreed-upon final outcome will allow you to avoid being formally convicted of the charge. Avoiding formal conviction is important to sidestep many of the sanctions that might otherwise be imposed upon conviction. This includes the suspension of your privilege to drive, if an automobile was used in connection with your offense. Learn more about Adjudication Withheld and Avoiding Conviction.
No Court Appearance Required – Plea in Absentia
May enable the case to be satisfactorily resolved without the need for a trial or even your personal appearance in court. Pleas in Absentia allow your attorney to make all court appearances on your behalf. This waiver of your personal appearance is a potential method to avoid the embarrassment you might otherwise suffer when the official charges are read in open court. Learn more about how our office can accommodate the unique needs of Out-of-Town Clients.
Sealing Your Criminal Records
Depending on your prior record and the official outcome of your case, you may qualify to have your record sealed or expunged. Getting your record sealed or expunged would enable you to truthfully state (with a few limited exceptions) that you had never been arrested or charged with a Solicitation of Prostitution offense in Pinellas County. Learn more about Sealing / Expungement of Pinellas County Criminal Records.
Call us for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303. We can answer many of your questions right over the phone.