Charges for solicitation or patronizing prostitution has severe consequences under state law. Not only could you face jail time and high fines, but you also may experience personal and professional fallout from being convicted of a sex crime. The risks are high when facing these criminal charges, so contacting a Chattanooga solicitation lawyer is highly recommended.
All too often, law enforcement officials conduct prostitution stings utilizing Backpage or Craigslist. When unsuspecting individuals appear at an agreed-upon location, they may be subject to immediate arrest on solicitation charges. A criminal defense lawyer could be instrumental in defending your rights against these criminal charges.
Tenn. Code § 39-13-514 establishes the criminal offense of patronizing prostitution, which many people also refer to as solicitation. Individuals commit this offense when they:
Prostitution occurs when people engage in or offer to engage in sexual activity as a business. This offense also encompasses people in a house of prostitution and loitering in a public place to be hired for sexual activity. Houses of prostitution are any locations where individuals regularly engage in prostitution or promotion of prostitution under the supervision or management of another.
In many cases, law enforcement officials attempt to set up stings or operations to arrest individuals for patronizing prostitution. They often post ads on Craiglist or Backpage to entice individuals into contacting supposed prostitutes to hire them for sexual activities. However, law enforcement typically stops the operation at an early point to avoid any sexual activity from occurring.
The code section on patronizing prostitution does not require that money exchange hands for individuals to be guilty of those offenses. The state only must prove that the accused individuals intended to engage in prostitution. Although giving an alleged prostitute money would be evidence of an intent to engage in prostitution, it is not the only way to prove that solicitation has occurred.
Furthermore, even if the transaction was not completed, individuals still could face charges for attempted patronizing prostitution. For this offense, there need only be evidence that individuals took a substantial step toward patronizing prostitution. As a solicitation lawyer in Chattanooga may advise, merely discussing the possibility of a prostitution arrangement with an undercover police officer could be enough to support a criminal charge.
Patronizing prostitution is a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in a sentence of incarceration of up to 11 months and 29 days. Individuals convicted of this offense also might face a fine of up to $2,500. If the crime occurs within 100 feet of a church or one and one-half miles of a school, then individuals must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of seven days and a fine of at least $1,000.
In some cases, however, the penalties may be more severe. If individuals patronize prostitution from a person who is under the age of 18 or who has an intellectual disability, then the penalties are the same as those for trafficking for commercial sex acts.
Under Tenn. Code § 29-13-309, trafficking for commercial sex acts is a Class B felony. A conviction on a Class B felony offense could result in a prison sentence ranging from eight to 30 years, as well as a fine of up to $25,000. A solicitation attorney in Chattanooga may be vital in avoiding or minimizing the potential penalties that individuals may face for a solicitation of prostitution charge.
Although various defenses may be available when facing patronizing prostitution charges, the code section does provide some circumstances that do not constitute a defense. For instance, you cannot defend yourself by arguing that the subject of the offense is an undercover officer or that the minor victim consented to the encounter. A Chattanooga solicitation lawyer may be able to analyze your situation and determine the most effective defense strategy in your case.
As the consequences of solicitation may be harsh, you should not hesitate to get legal advice about your situation. Taking steps to get legal representation as quickly as possible following an arrest or filing of criminal charges may be to your advantage.