When a person requests to engage in sexual acts with another person for money, it is considered solicitation for prostitution. Prostitution, or sex work, is illegal in Florida. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to seek out sex workers for prostitution. 

While there is often controversy over the ethics and legality of sex work, law enforcement has intensified their efforts to apprehend those who seek out illegal sexual activities. Prostitution can also be a form of sex trafficking, which is an even more severe criminal charge. In any case, it is important for those accused of such crimes to be aware of the offense and its potential penalties. 

Any person who is accused of soliciting for prostitution or engaging in other prostitution-related offenses can be sentenced to pay expensive fines, lengthy imprisonment, community service, civil penalties, and other forms of punishment. If you are facing a solicitation charge, you should reach out to a sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible. 

Prostitution Defense Attorney in South Florida 

A person who has been charged with a sex crime in Florida may feel as if they have no options. However, working with an experienced defense attorney can help ease the dread, and work towards building a strong defense for your case. With penalties such as high-cost fines and extensive imprisonment, the stakes are too high not to take a solicitation charge seriously. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with solicitation for prostitution, it is important to seek out the help of a defense attorney near you. The defense attorneys at Ian Goldstein Law have represented clients accused of a variety of offenses in Florida. Contact our firm today at (561) 600-0950 to receive a free consultation regarding your case. 

What Does it Mean to Solicit for Sex? 

Florida Statute Section 777.04 defines the offense of solicitation as when a person attempts to get another person to commit a criminal offense that is prohibited by law. During such solicitation, the defendant either commands, encourages, hires, or requests another person to engage in the illegal conduct. 

When referring to soliciting for prostitution, we can provide the following example scenarios: 

  • The defendant pulls their car over next to someone they believe to be a sex worker, and requests to pay to engage in sexual activity with the sex worker; 
  • The defendant following a sex worker’s instructions for his or her sexual services; and/or
  • The defendant using the internet to seek out sex workers and request a sexual act for money. 

Soliciting vs Offering to Commit Prostitution

Although some may consider the two to be the same thing, solicitation and prostitution are two distinct types of offenses. The difference between the two is that solicitation is when a person is charged with asking a sex worker to engage in sexual activity. Whereas the act of prostitution is the crime of actually accepting the money or valued item in exchange for performing sexual acts. 

Solicitation for Prostitution Florida Statute 

Florida Statute Section 796.07 defines “prostitution” as the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire. However, it excludes any sexual activity between spouses. “Sexual activity” is defined as the oral, anal, or genital penetration by or union with the sexual organ of another person. 

Florida law explains that it is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution, solicit for prostitution, or offer another person up for prostitution for the exchange of money or other reward. 

Related Sex Crimes that can Lead to a Prostitution Charge 

When people think of prostitution charges, it is usually in reference to the sale and purchase of sexual activities. However, there are multiple actions which can fall into the same category, and result in criminal charges. Under Florida Statute Section 796, the following is a list of unlawful sexual activities which can lead to being charged with a criminal offense: 

  • Offering another person for the purpose of prostitution (also referred to as “pimping”); 
  • Owning, establishing, or operating a place where prostitution is performed; 
  • Forcing or convincing another person to engage in prostitution; 
  • Offering to engage in or commit prostitution;
  • Receiving an individual in a place designated for the purpose of prostitution; 
  • Soliciting, engaging, or procuring a person to commit prostitution;
  • Knowingly transporting or taking a person to a place designated for prostitution; 
  • Hiring a sex worker; 
  • Residing at or entering a place designated for prostitution;
  • Renting a place for the purpose of prostitution; 
  • Knowingly deriving support from a person engaged in prostitution; and/or
  • Aiding and abetting a person to commit any of the aforementioned offenses. 

Required Proof to Prosecute 

When dealing with a criminal charge in Florida, the burden falls on the State to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove that the defendant was involved in a prostitution offense, the prosecution must be able to prove the defendant either sought out a sex worker, offered themselves up for sex work, or contributed in some way to another person engaging in sex work. 

The defendant can be also charged with solicitation if he or she tries to convince someone to engage in a lewd act, which is considered any sexual act that is either obscene or indecent. 

One important detail to note is that money does not have to be exchanged for a person to be charged with soliciting for sex. As long as there is proof that the defendant offered or intended to exchange money for sex or sexual activities, they may be charged with soliciting for prostitution. Even if the defendant does not actually engage in the sexual acts, the offer alone is enough evidence to prosecute. 

It is not uncommon for law enforcement to set up a sting operations to catch those who attempt to engage in prostitution. In such cases, the sexual activity is never completed; however, the intent to engage in prostitution gives law enforcement reasonable grounds to charge the defendant (often referred to as “the John” in such cases) with soliciting for prostitution. 

Penalties for Solicitation for Prostitution

In Florida, the penalties for soliciting sex work can range from a misdemeanor to a felony. The charges can vary depending on the defendant’s prior convictions, along with the specific details of the case. The following is a list of penalties for soliciting prostitution: 

  • First Offense of Solicitation of Prostitution – Considered a first-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $1,000 fines, up to one year in jail, and up to one year of probation. 
  • Second Offense of Solicitation of Prostitution – Considered a third-degree felony and classified as a Level 1 offense severity rank under the State’s Criminal Punishment Code. The penalties for a third-degree felony include a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, up to five years of probation, and up to a 60 day impoundment or immobilization of the defendant’s vehicle. 
  • Third or Subsequent Offense of Solicitation of Prostitution – Considered a second-degree felony and also classified as a Level 1 offense severity rank under the State’s Criminal Punishment Code. The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to $10,000 in fines, up to 15 years of imprisonment, up to 15 years of probation, and up to a 60-day impoundment or immobilization of the defendant’s vehicle. 

In addition to the penalties listed above, a person convicted of a solicitation charge in Florida may also face the following penalties: 

  • A $5,000 civil penalty; 
  • 100 hours of community service;
  • Mandatory attendance of an educational program on human trafficking and prostitution;
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 10 days for a second or subsequent offense; 
  • Vehicle impoundment for 60 days if the vehicle was used in the commission of the offense; and/or
  • Registering under the Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database

The defendant may also have to undergo a screening for any sexually transmissible diseases. Under Florida Statute Section 796.08(3), a “sexually transmissible disease” is defined as a bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic disease determined by the Department of Health to be a threat to public health. 

If the defendant’s screening comes back positive for any infection, they will be required to receive treatment or counseling prior to being released from incarceration, probation, or other form of community control. If the defendant was aware of the existence of a disease before engaging in prostitution and did not communicate such information with the other individual involved, they can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor in addition to the charges for prostitution. 

Any person who engages or offers to engage in prostitution by engaging in sexual activities after testing positive for HIV can be charged with a third-degree felony. The defendant can be convicted and sentenced for this as a separate charge from the solicitation for prostitution. 

Defenses to Solicitation for Prostitution

Being  charged with a sex crime can be extremely stressful. This is where a defense attorney comes in. A skilled defense attorney understands the diverse types of pretrial and trial defenses which can be used in your favor. The following is a list of possible defenses that can be used in a criminal case involving the solicitation of prostitution: 

  • The defendant never made an agreement or offered an exchange for the engagement of sexual activity; 
  • There is no proof that the defendant was soliciting for sexual activities;
  • Law enforcement committed entrapment by improperly coercing, persuading, or inducing the defendant into committing the offense; or
  • The State has insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant committed the offense. 

Defenses for solicitation offenses vary on a case to case basis. In order to determine which defenses are most applicable to your case, we highly advise reaching out to a skilled defense attorney in your area. 

Finding a Defense Attorney in South Florida 

Any person in South Florida who is charged with soliciting for prostitution should seek out a legal representative as soon as possible. Sex crimes are prosecuted harshly in Florida. The penalties can result in expensive fines, imprisonment, and the social stigma of being a convicted sex crime offender. 

At Ian Goldstein Law, the South Florida criminal defense attorneys have years of experience representing clients in Palm Beach County and throughout South Florida. We understand how stressful navigating the legal system can be, and we want to provide a top quality defense to ensure that your rights are protected. Our attorneys will work on building a strong defense for your case. To receive a free consultation, contact us at (561) 600-0950 or leave an online message on our website. 

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