Throughout South Florida and even the rest of the state, police departments are coming down hard on cases involving the solicitation of prostitution as well as other acts listed under the prostitution statute. Prostitution is defined as selling ones body for money in the form of sexual acts. While this type of transaction (money for sex) has been around for thousands of years, and is even legal in some jurisdictions, it is still illegal in Florida and can be punished quite harshly.
The most common way police departments go about targeting individuals participating in this type of illegal behavior is through elaborate (or sometimes very simple) sting operations.
In my experience as an attorney, most of these stings happen in the same areas over and over again. The police are really not that creative when it comes to these scenarios. For example, I have been practicing criminal law since 2007 and I have personally seen over 100 prostitution cases in the city of Hallandale Beach. The police department will take a plainclothes female officer and plant her right on the corner of Pembroke road and Federal Highway. The story basically writes itself and every single police report written that night will read exactly the same. “Officer so and so was acting in an undercover capacity. Defendant approached and requested the officer perform a sexual act in exchange for money.” That’s it!
The officers will rarely write anything more than that. And they don’t have to in order to open a case. Most times the police will write Notice to Appear forms and give the poor defendant a court date some time in the future. Usually at this point the defendant calls my office and I explain how police have been running that game for years only now they have an even bigger incentive to trap unsuspecting people. The state of Florida has instituted a statutory fine of $5,000.00 for any defendant accused of soliciting a prostitute. That is $5,000.00 that the defendant must pay the state if he/she is convicted of soliciting prostitution.
Fortunately, there are usually defenses to this crime and there are usually issues with the way police collect evidence. There are often no photographs, video or audio recordings of the alleged “solicitation”. Additionally, the police officer will likely open 30 or more cases in a single night, and they will run that sting several times a year. This results in hundreds of arrests using the same officer. With no video or other evidence and a very vague police report, it is difficult for the police officer to say with much credibility that they remember the exact conversation they had with the defendant. The police officers usually count on the defendant taking a plea or participating in a Misdemeanor Diversion Program of some sort.
If this is your first time being arrested or cited with solicitation of prostitution, then you are in luck. Most counties offer diversion programs which only require attending a course about the dangers of participating in the type of behavior that got you arrested in the first place. The programs also require that you submit to an STD test. The results are kept confidential to you; you would only need to show proof that you took the test. Once those requirements are complete, the case could potentially be dismissed and your record later expunged. Many counties allow you to do this and avoid the mandatory $5,000.00 fine. Sounds good right? I said many, not all. Broward County Prostitution cases require the payment of this heavy fine even if the defendant is participating in the misdemeanor diversion program. Not so good.
Having practiced criminal law my entire career and handled thousands of cases involving prostitution, I can understand the frustration and anxiety that comes with these types of charges. Many of my clients have said that they believe they probably should have known the person they were speaking to was a police officer and are more upset at the social stigma attached to the arrest and are embarrassed in front of friends and family.
Of course it’s difficult when facing any criminal charge, not just prostitution. And no matter what evidence you think the police have against you there is no substitute for hiring a criminal defense attorney to make sure that you were treated fairly by the police and to make sure that your rights are protected under the law.
If you are facing any criminal charges in Florida or simply have questions regarding any issues in criminal law, Call 800-403-3887 to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney today, Partners are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a free case evaluation.
Never speak to police or go to court without first speaking with a criminal defense attorney. Remember, even fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut.