According to Texas Penal Code § 43.02 - 43.06, “prostitution” is when a person knowingly solicits and engages in sexual conduct for hire. You can be charged with a prostitution offense regardless of whether the other party decides to pay the fee or compensation. For the first-time offender, the punishment is a Class B misdemeanor of 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. Repeat offenders can face a third-degree felony with life in prison and fines up to $10,000.
With a knowledgeable Houston sex crime defense attorney on your side, you can beat this charge using one of the following strategies.
You have probably watched a TV show where an undercover police officer goes out on a sting operation to arrest prostitutes and johns in neighborhoods common for unlawful activity. In some instances, the officer is dressed in regular street clothes and sits in an unmarked car while a person unknowingly approaches the vehicle. Meanwhile, the police officer is wearing an undercover microphone and the entire incident is being recorded. Backup law enforcement and police squad cars are hidden from street view.
The officer must wait until the person who approaches the vehicle mentions certain keywords indicative of a transaction for sexual favors. Afterward, that person is arrested and taken into police custody for questioning. You may be thinking that the person was trapped and set up during the sting operation, and therefore, should not be liable for any criminal activity. If a person regularly solicits others for sexual favors, then that person cannot use entrapment as a personal defense.
In this case, entrapment as a defense would only work if you were encouraged or coerced into trading money for sex, but it is not something you would normally do. You could also be caught up in a sting operation as an innocent bystander. If you have been subject to such activity, a prostitution defense lawyer can argue your case in court to have your charges dismissed pre-trial or during court proceedings.
At times, an officer can be sitting in an unmarked car watching for illegal criminal activity. The defendant could approach a car just to talk to the other person inside. Suddenly, both people are arrested for suspicious criminal activity and prostitution. This arrest could be illegal. A law enforcement official can’t arrest an individual without a known probable cause.
The police officer must demonstrate that the defendant planned on soliciting an act of prostitution before the arrest was done. It will be up to the prosecution to convince the court beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended on engaging in prostitution. In this case, the prosecuting attorney must provide enough evidence that meets a high level of proof — for example, a recording where the defendant agreed to solicit prostitution for a fee.
It is possible that you were at a party and became intoxicated when a solicitation for prostitution occurred. It may be possible to use intoxication as a valid defense against the solicitation or acceptance of prostitution. Your defense lawyer can review your police records to check your blood alcohol content at the time of arrest. Your case would then be evaluated for the validity of the charges.
Your constitutional rights may have been violated by the arresting officer. For example, an officer may have arrested you but didn’t inform you of your Miranda rights. An officer could have engaged in inappropriate behavior, like performing sexual activity for money. A judge may dismiss a case for the inappropriate behavior of a government official or an arresting officer for violating the code of ethics.
Every year, teenagers run away from home and become victims of sex trafficking. If you engaged in prostitution while you were a minor or you were a victim of a sex trafficking ring, you will have a valid defense.
In most cases, ignorance of the law is not a proper defense for committed crimes. An attorney would have to prove specific intent to use lack of knowledge as a criminal defense. However, the prosecution might need to prove that you knew about the unlawful activity before you broke the law. For example, prostitution is legal in certain counties in Nevada. Maybe you engaged in criminal activity that you thought was legal in the state of Texas because it is legal in another state.
Regarding Texas state law, it is illegal to force or coerce another person to engage in acts of prostitution. If you were threatened with violence or other acts under extreme duress for not exchanging sex for money, then you could have a plausible defense.
Sometimes, 2 consenting adults meet in a hotel or a vehicle for a sexual encounter and no money exchanges hands. Lawful sexual encounters are legal. If there wasn’t an agreement to exchange any form of compensation for sexual favors, a lawyer could argue in court that no crime was committed.
Compensation does not have to be money. A defendant may solicit or accept valuable items, property or drugs as compensation for sex. It is easier for an attorney to have a prostitution charge dismissed if no forms of compensation exchanged hands.
If you’ve been charged with soliciting or engaging in prostiution, then you’ll want to know how to beat a solicitation charge in Texas. An experienced defense lawyer will evaluate your case in retrospect of the best defense strategies.