Prostitution and solicitation are two separate, but closely rated, crimes. Solicitation happens when someone demands, encourages, or requests someone to engage in prostitution, which is a criminal act in and on itself. Prostitution, meanwhile, exists in many forms, from sophisticated escort service to street walkers. Engaging in, agreeing to, or offering sexual acts in return for compensation is classed as prostitution and is considered illegal.
Prostitution & Solicitation Laws
Prostitution and solicitation are covered under 25 CFR 11.453 – Prostitution or Solicitation. It describes both prostitution and solicitation as misdemeanor crimes. Prostitution is also covered under 18 U.S. Code Section 1384 – Prostitution Near Military and Naval Establishments.
Prostitution & Solicitation Crimes & Charges
Each state has its own laws in terms of prostitution and solicitation. However, solicitation convictions usually require that someone actually engaged in conduct that is criminal, and/or that they intended to engage in criminal conduct with someone else. Usually, a perpetrator must have requested a sexual act from someone, with the intend to actually follow it through. They do not, however, have to have followed it through in order to be convicted.
Prostitution, meanwhile, is illegal in every state, with the exception of certain parts of Nevada. In that state, it is very strictly regulated and not following those regulations makes prostitution an illegal act. Some states, however, do not punish the act of prostitution itself, only focusing on the solicitation and facilitation aspects. Prostitution is also covered under the Mann Act, which specifically looks at human sex trafficking.
Prostitution & Solicitation Punishments
The punishment for solicitation varies from one state to another. Most of the time, perpetrators will only receive a fine if it is their first offense. Instead, they will usually be sentenced do community service and/or fines. Most states now also have mandatory HIV testing and classes in place. For those who have been convicted of solicitation before, however, it is more likely that they will receive a jail sentence. Overall, common sentences include:
• Jail, usually up to no more than a year
• Fines, which range from between $100 to $1,000. If convicted, most perpetrators will also have to pay for court fees
• Probation, which is usually at least 12 months
• Pretrial diversion, which is best comparable to probation before conviction. If the perpetrator adheres to the requirements of their diversion, charges will be dropped. If they fail to meet these requirements, however, they will generally face harsher than average penalties.
Child prostitution is very different, however. Those who have been found guilty of soliciting child prostitution will usually face a felony charge. This can incur prison sentences of ten years and above. Furthermore, they will have to sign the sex offenders’ register, often for life.
Prostitution is almost always charged as a misdemeanor, if it is charged at all. Promoting prostitution, however, is a more serious crime, and is classed as a felony. The age of the prostitute also strongly influences other associated crimes.
Prostitution & Solicitation Sentencing Guidelines
The prosecution must prove that the act of solicitation was committed and that the defendant had criminal intent. Many defendants will claim that they have recanted their offer, meaning that they did ask for prices, but then retracted their offer before any sexual act took place. Usually, testimony from a prostitute is required, and it is very rare for her to agree to this. As a result, sentencing is complex simply because it is hard to prosecute as well. Judges are asked to consider recidivism and age of the prostitute in their sentencing.
Prostitution & Solicitation Statute of Limitations
In most states, the statute of limitations on both prostitution and solicitation is one year. They tend to be charged very rapidly. However, it is possible that a prostitution or solicitation arrest happened as part of a larger, ongoing investigation into a prostitute or human trafficking ring, for instance. As such, it can take longer and the statute of limitations may be reached.
Prostitution & Solicitation Cases
• Three people were arrested in an undercover prostitution operation. Three women were arrested and they were all charged with solicitation to commit prostitution. One of the women was in possession of drug paraphernalia, for which she will face additional charges. (Florida Today)
• 14 men have been arrested in Oxnard on a solicitation of prostitution charge. The sting operations, known as ‘Reverse John’ were organized between different organizations, which posted fake advertisements on a popular website where sexually explicit ads are placed. An undercover female officer was solicited by 14 different men, with whom she made arrangements to meet. They were all arrested on a misdemeanor charge and are likely to face 30 days in jail each, as well as fines and HIV classes and testing. (Ventura County Star)
• South Carolina is aware of the fact that sex trafficking is a huge industry. The Pee Dee police department is being proactive in ending this problem. They want to do this by easing the crime both for those soliciting and those offering sex for compensation. A new bill was unanimously passed, and the bill highlights an increase in fines paid by those soliciting, and that a felony charge will be brought against anyone who solicits for a mentally disabled prostitute. There is also some controversial suggestion that those who commit a third or subsequent offense of solicitation should sign the sex offenders register, but this has not been passed yet. (WBTW News 13)
• Three people have been arrested in Iowa City as part of a human trafficking and prostitution operation. Twelve people have been charged with soliciting prostitution or prostituting as well. The investigation was completed by a 40 man strong law enforcement team, across various agencies in Iowa. It is hoped that this will address some of the human trafficking issues the state is experiencing. (KWQC TV 6)
• Health First Foundation’s president, Terry Mohr, has been arrested on charges of solicitation. He has been the head of the philanthropic arm of Health First since 2014, and he immediately submitted his resignation. He has been released on a bond of $500. Mohr has worked in philanthropic fundraising for over 25 years, and he is a highly respected member of both for- and not for-profit organizations. (Florida Today)
Prostitution Laws by State
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming