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Soliciting for Prostitution in Florida

Under Florida Statute Section 796.07(2) it is a crime to solicit another for the purpose of prostitution or for the purpose of performing a lewd or indecent act. Enhanced penalties apply if a minor was involved in the crime. Many of these cases involve elaborate undercover sting operations.

These sting operations often target individuals who are the least experienced in soliciting for prosecution. The unusual tactics used by law enforcement also lead to the entrapment of an innocent person who was not predisposed to commit the crime.  The female law enforcement officers posing as "prostitutes" sometimes cross the line in order to build the case. 

To add insult to injury, local newspapers often publish details about these sting operations and feature the mug shots of people arrested. 

For most of our clients, the goal is to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges so that the person accused can quickly petition to expunge the criminal record and mug shot.

If you were charged with soliciting for prosecution in Tampa or Plant City, Hillsborough County, FL, then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We help men and women fight serious allegations of a sexually motivated crimes for soliciting another for a lewd or indecent act. 

We represent clients throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Polk County, Pasco County, Pinellas County and Hernando County, FL.


Entrapment in Prostitution Solicitation Cases

Law enforcement officers throughout the Tampa Bay area use sting operations to lure a person into committing a crime. Prostitution sting operations create an appearance that the person has the possibility of a completely unexpected sexual encounter. Creating this kind of lure preys on fragile human emotions and the most sensitive of human frailties—the primal urge for a sexual encounter.

Florida recognizes two theories of defense based on entrapment:

  1. subjective entrapment, codified in section 777.201, Florida Statutes; and
  2. objective entrapment, definitively established in Munoz v. State, 629 So.2d 90, 99 (Fla.1993).

Subjective entrapment focuses on whether conduct by law enforcement induced, encouraged, or caused the defendant to commit a crime when he or she was not predisposed to do so. See § 777.201, Fla. Stat.; Jones v. State, 114 So.3d 1123, 1126 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013).

Objective entrapment occurs when egregious law enforcement conduct amounts to a violation of the defendant's right to due process under article I, section 9, of the Florida Constitution. See Munoz, 629 So.2d at 99; Gennette v. State, No. 1D12–3407, slip op. at 9 n. 5, 124 So.3d 273, 2013 WL 4873490 (Fla. 1st DCA Sept. 13, 2013) (describing objective entrapment as “government action so egregious that even a predisposed defendant's due process rights are violated”).

Other defenses to solicitation and prostitution cases include filing motions to challenge the constitutionality of prostitution charges either on its face or as applied to the particular facts of an individual case. Many of these challenges alleged that the statute or ordinance is overly broad or too vague.


Jury Instructions for Soliciting a Prostitute

This jury instruction for soliciting for prosecution or a lewd act was originally adopted in 1981 and subsequently amended in 2008 and 2013. The jury instruction under Section 23.2 provides that to prove the crime of Soliciting for the Purpose of Prostitution or Any Lewd or Indecent Act, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant either offered, offered to secure, or agreed to secure another purpose; and
  2. For the purpose of either prosecution or for the purpose of committing any lewd or indecent act.

Definitions in Florida's Prostitution Statute

Read more about the definitions under Florida's statutory scheme for prosecution related offenses.
  • Prostitution - giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.
  • Indecent - wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual intention on the part of the person doing the act.
  • Lewd act - any indecent or obscene act.
  • Sexual activity - oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; or the handling or fondling of the sexual organ of another for the purpose of masturbation; however, the term does not include acts done for bona fide medical purposes.
  • Lewdness - any indecent or obscene act.
  • Assignation - making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement.
  • Structure - any building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it and includes any closely adjoining land enclosed by a fence or wall.
  • Conveyance - any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car.

Statutory Penalties for Solicitation for Prostitution

Any person who is found guilty of soliciting for prosecution is subject to the following penalties:
  • A first violation is a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months probation.
  • A second violation is a misdemeanor of the first degree which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
  • A third or subsequent violation is a third-degree penalty punishable by up to five years in prison.

Effective January 1, 2013, under Florida Statute 796.07(6), any person who violates the statute prohibiting solicitation of prostitution SHALL be assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 "if the violation results in any judicial disposition other than acquittal or dismissal."

The statute provides that from the $5,000 fine, the first $500 shall be paid to the circuit court administrator for the sole purpose of paying the administrative costs of treatment-based drug court programs provided under s. 397.334. The remainder of the penalty assessed shall be deposited in the Operations and Maintenance Trust Fund of the Department of Children and Family Services for the sole purpose of funding safe houses and short-term safe houses as provided in s. 409.1678.

Many question whether the minimum mandatory $5,000 fine is constitutional, especially since most of these charges are second-degree misdemeanors which are normally limited to a $500 fine. If the charges are dropped, reduced to a lesser charge like disorderly conduct, or if the defendant enters a diversion program, then the $5,000 fine does not apply.


Forfeiture of Vehicles for Solicitation Charges in Florida

To add insult to injury, the law enforcement officers in these cases will often seize and impound the defendant's vehicle under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA) section 932.701-.707, Florida Statutes. or a local ordinance that purports to authorize the seizure and impoundment of vehicles.

The seizure of the vehicle requires that the vehicle was used in the commission of the offense. If your vehicle was seized, you should hire an attorney to demand an adverse preliminary hearing within 15 days of the seizure.

Demanding the hearing immediately is often the best way to get the vehicle back. After the demand is filed and the hearing is scheduled, the city or county that seized the vehicle because much more motivated to return the vehicle quickly. If you fail to assert your rights it is nearly impossible to negotiate a fair resolution of the case.


Finding an Attorney to Fight Soliciting for Prosecution Charges

If you were charged with Soliciting for the Purpose of Any Lewd / Indecent Act or Prostitution then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. 

We represent clients charged with soliciting a prostitute and other sex crimes throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Tampa in Hillsborough County, and the surrounding areas of Pasco County, Polk County, and Pinellas County, FL.

We fight aggressively for the dismissal of the charges, the expunction of the criminal record and mug shot, and the return of any seized property. Call today to discuss your case.


Related Sex Worker Charges

Although Soliciting for the Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation under § 796.07(2)(f), Fla.Stat., is the most common offense, Florida law also provides for more charges such as:

  • Maintaining A House of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation § 796.07(2)(a), Fla.Stat.

  • Soliciting for the Purpose of Prostitution or Lewd or Indecent Act § 796.07(2)(b), Fla.Stat.

  • Receiving for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation § 796.07(2)(c), Fla.Stat.

  • Transporting for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation § 796.07(2)(d), Fla.Stat.

  • Offering to Commit, Committing, or Engaging in Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation § 796.07(2)(e), Fla.Stat.

  • Entering for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation § 796.07(2)(g), Fla.Stat.

Maintaining a Place of Prostitution

Florida Statute Section § 796.07(2)(a), prohibits maintaining a place of prostitution, lewdness or assignation.

The jury instructions for the criminal charge of maintaining a place of prosecution are found in Section 23.1. Those instructions were first adopted in 1981 and subsequently amended in 2008, 2010, and 2013. 

To prove the crime of Maintaining a Place of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's office must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt: The defendant either established, owned, maintained, or operated any place, structure, building or conveyance for the purpose of lewdness, assignation or prostitution.


Receiving for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation

Under Florida Statute  § 796.07(2)(c), it is a crime to receive a person for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness or assignation. Florida's criminal jury instruction 23.3 was first adopted in 1981 and subsequently amended in 2008 and 2013.

The jury instruction provides that to prove the crime of Receiving for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation, the prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. (Defendant) [received] [offered to receive] [agreed to receive]
  2. A person into a [place] [structure] [building] [conveyance]
  3. For the purpose of [prostitution] [lewdness] [assignation].

Alternatively, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. (Defendant) permitted a person to remain in a [place] [structure] [building] [conveyance]
  2. For the purpose of [prostitution] [lewdness] [assignation].

Transporting for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation

Under Florida Statute § 796.07(2)(d), it is a crime to transport a person for prostitution. Jury Instruction 23.4 was adopted in 1981 and amended in 2008, 2010 and 2013.

To prove the crime of Transporting for the Purpose of [Prostitution] [Lewdness] [Assignation], the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. (Defendant) [directed] [took] [transported] [offered or agreed to [direct] [take] [transport]] a person to [a place] [a structure] [a building] [another person].
  2. At the time, (defendant) knew or had reasonable cause to believe that such [directing] [taking] [transporting] was for the purpose of [prostitution] [lewdness] [assignation].

Offering to Engage in Prostitution in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 796.07(2)(e), it is a crime to offer to engage in prostitution. Jury instruction 23.5 was adopted in 1981 and amended in 2008, 2010, and 2013. To prove the crime of Offering to Commit, Committing, or Engaging in [Prostitution] [Lewdness] [Assignation], the State must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt:

(Defendant) [offered to commit] [committed] [engaged in] [prostitution] [lewdness] [assignation].


Entering for the Purpose of Prostitution in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 796.07(2)(g), it is a crime to reside in or enter into a place for the purpose of prosecution, lewdness or assignation. Jury instruction 23.7 sets out the elements of the offense.

To prove the crime of Entering for the Purpose of [Prostitution] [Lewdness] [Assignation], the State must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt:

(Defendant) [resided in] [entered] [remained in] a [place] [structure] [building] [conveyance] for the purpose of [prostitution] [lewdness] [assignation].


Prostitution Solicitation Attorneys in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for solicitation for prostitution, or related charges of offering to engage in prostitution, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. 

We defending clients charged with these offenses throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500 for a free and confidential consultation.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, July 11, 2016.

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