Prostitution laws in Palm Beach County
Florida law extensively prohibits commercialized sexual transactions. A person may be charged with prostitution or solicitation in West Palm Beach if he or she:
- owns, sets up, maintains, or operates a building or passage for delivery for the purpose of the act of prostitution.
- suggests or gives permission to deliver another person with the intent for that person to engage in the act.
- entertains or delivers a person to be delivered into any place or environment transported for the purpose of the act or allows a person to remain in a place for such intentions.
- guides, transports or agrees to guide or transport a person to any area with the knowledge or any reason to think that the purpose of the guidance or transportation is the act.
- offers to engage or commits to engage in the act.
- solicits, persuades or obligates another to perform an act or acts.
- lives in any establishment or is in the presence of any vehicle for the function of the act.
- assists, encourages, or partakes in any of the above behaviors in regard to agreeing, performing or setting up any sexual activity for compensation.
- pays for the services of any individual soliciting sexual acts.
When most people think of what constitutes a violation of prostitution laws, they are aware that the person who provides or offers sexual activity in exchange for compensation may be arrested. In addition to actually exchanging sex for compensation, assignations, or meetings and appointments which are arranged for the purpose of participating in a prostitution transaction, are also illegal. Furthermore, Florida law prohibits solicitation, the act of persuading or convincing another person to participate in the act, maintaining an organization, brothel, or other building that is intended to serve as a venue for prostitution, and pandering, more commonly known as pimping, when a person hires or persuades someone to participate in the act or makes another person available to others for a prostitution transaction.
Tactics police use to make arrests in West Palm Beach
Traditionally, operations aimed at breaking up prostitution rings have involved undercover police officers presenting themselves as “johns” in areas that are known or suspected to have a high level of activity. The officers pretend to be interested in exchanging money for sex with suspected prostitutes. Alternatively, law enforcement agencies sometimes conduct stings, during which female officers pose as prostitutes and arrest actual johns who express interest in paying for sex. In some these types of cases, your West Palm Beach prostitution defense lawyers could prove that entrapment occurred, thus triggering a dismissal of charges.
A more recent tactic law enforcement agencies have increasingly utilized is the “Backpage sting.” During these operations, police focus target listings on Backpage, which is widely known as a forum in which people place ads for commercial sex despite the fact that the website officially shut down its Adult Services section. Law enforcement departments may post ads on the site, often targeting tourists who travel to Florida and are interested in paying a person to participate in sexual activity. Efforts to arrest individuals involved in prostitution are not limited to Backpage; police agencies also target similar websites and chat rooms.
Possible punishment upon conviction
A first arrest for a prostitution-related offense may be charged as a second degree misdemeanor. Sentencing may include a maximum of 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Arrest for a second offense may result in a first degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, one year imprisonment, or both. Those who have two have two prior convictions may be charged with a third degree felon and may be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both. The law also permits optional pretrial admission to a substance abuse or intervention program. Prostitution arrests that involve the procurement of a person younger than 18 is automatically elevated to a second degree felony charge, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
An accused person may argue he or she was wrongfully charged with a prostitution-related offense if he or she can establish that there was no element of compensation involved in the discussion or engagement in sexual activity. In some cases, law enforcement may have engaged in entrapment to lure the person into agreeing to engage in the act when he or she otherwise would not have done so. In cases involving the procurement of prostitution from a person who is under 18 years of age, lack of knowledge of the individual’s age is not a valid defense.
Call a top defense lawyer immediately after arrest
Being arrested arrested for prostitution can have negative consequences that linger for years to come. Conviction for prostitution will appear on the individual’s record if he or she is the subject of a criminal background check. The person may experience embarrassment or even lose his or her job if news of the arrest circulates around the local community. Therefore, anyone who is accused of a related offense should immediately hire a West Palm Beach prostitution defense attorney. Experienced lawyers can take action swiftly and even prevent law enforcement from violating the rights of the accused. Acting quickly and calling a lawyer early in the criminal process can help wrongfully accused people limit damage to their reputation and avoid going to jail unnecessarily. In some cases, if an individual has been wrongfully convicted, criminal defense lawyers can help the person have his or her record expunged and the criminal conviction removed.