Public hysteria over sex-trafficking is heating up, spurring Harris County prosecutors to hit even harder against persons arrested for soliciting prostitutes, since such prostitutes may be victims of sex trafficking.
Indeed, by late September of 2017, more cases had been prosecuted against those soliciting prostitutes than against prostitutes themselves — a dramatic change from 2016, when two times more prostitutes were prosecuted than those who solicited.
Clearly, soliciting prostitution is a serious charge which can have serious punishments. That’s why it’s vital to engage a skilled Houston sex crimes attorney such as Neal Davis.
Texas Prostitution Laws Reviewed
By Texas law, the crime of committing prostitution applies both to prostitutes and to their customers (know as “johns”). In either case, committing prostitution means someone knowingly engaged in or offered to engage in sexual contact for a fee, or solicited sexual conduct from another person in a public place.
Soliciting prostitution, or asking a prostitute about fees for sexual conduct, constitutes a crime of prostitution in itself, regardless of whether such fees are paid or if such conduct is provided. That’s according to Texas Penal Code § 43.02 – 43.06.
Being charged with such a crime can ruin your life in many ways. It can affect your job prospects down the line. It can bring public shame and a loss of good reputation. It even can mean jail time and hefty fines.
Texas Charges & Punishments for Soliciting Prostitution
In Texas, punishments for soliciting prostitution vary, depending on the charge.
If no aggravating elements are involved (such as violence), soliciting prostitution is a class B misdemeanor, for which punishment is jail time of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000.
If the defendant has one or more previous convictions for soliciting prostitution, the offense is a class A misdemeanor, for which punishment is jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
A defendant with three or more prior convictions for soliciting prostitution faces a state jail felony, for which punishment in Texas is jail time of 180 days to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the person being solicited for prostitution was under 18 years old, even if the defendant didn’t know their age at the time, then soliciting prostitution becomes a second degree felony. Texas punishment for this is jail time of 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Prosecutors Even Attack First-Time Defendants
In Harris County, prosecutors even go after first-time defendants for soliciting prostitution as if they have committed a serious crime. Rarely are such defendants given a chance to choose pre-trial diversion, unlike those who face other first-time charges.
In Harris County, pretrial diversion enables a first-time defendant with no previous criminal case to admit guilt before trial in exchange for pretrial diversion status. That status can involve participation in a community service program.
Upon completing such programs, defendants can have their criminal case dismissed and may get their case expunged (removed) from their record. In this way, first-time defendants can learn their lesson without facing an arduous trial, and the judicial system is spared the time and expense of trying another case.
But if a first-time defendant solicited prostitution in Harris County, reason falters and hysteria reigns — with pre-trial diversion impossible to get. That makes it even more important to engage an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney.
Hire an Experienced Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer
Defendants in Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County can contact the Neal Davis Law Firm today for a free and confidential legal review of their case — at no obligation.
Neal Davis often gets charges reduced or dropped before trial, or gains acquittal for defendants who go to trial.
Contact us now for your free case review. Get Neal Davis and get results.