Is Prostitution Legal in Florida? Understanding Solicitation Laws

Is Prostitution Legal in Florida? Understanding Solicitation Laws
Is Prostitution Legal in Florida?

Most states have laws to discourage citizens from hiring prostitutes, a profession that is illegal in all 50 states. Basically, by punishing the Johns that solicit sexual services, the states aim to somehow curb that industry (whether that’s working or not is another story). Regardless of whether you think escort services or escorting sites should be legal or not, understanding solicitation laws in Florida can help keep you out of jail and away from prostitution charges.

In this article, we’ll cover the actual definition of solicitation in Florida, what it entails and what can happen if you’re charged with solicitation. For the most up-to-date legal advice, however, you should contact Mike G Law.

How Does Florida Law Define Solicitation?

In the state of Florida, solicitation is fairly clear and devoid of legalese. Florida Code Section 796.07 defines this illegal act as “purchas[ing] the services of any person engaged in prostitution.”

The code goes on to say that “solicit[ing], induc[ing], entic[ing], or procur[ing] another to commit prostitution” is also considered to be solicitation.

Note that even if you do not have sex with a prostitute or escort, you can be charged with solicitation. The point is that the intent existed. So, if you are caught speaking with a known prostitute, and the police think you’ve exchanged money, they may attempt to charge you with a crime.

What Is the Solicitation of a Minor in Florida?

Any crime where a minor is a victim will be harshly prosecuted. If you’re charged with an offense involving a minor, it’s crucial to secure legal representation immediately. 

Using the internet to induce a child into sex or sexual behavior is a serious offense. Even if the child does not agree—or if the person is only pretending to be a child in a sting—you can be charged with soliciting a minor, which carries stiff penalties.

While there are defenses to this type of charge (like entrapment or lack of criminal intent), you need a lawyer because the punishment if convicted is severe.

Solicitation of a minor is generally a second-degree felony and is punishable by:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • 15 years of probation, and 
  • Up to a $10,000 fine. 

Plus, if multiple communication devices are used, you can be charged per device or service. So, for example, if you used your home computer and your smartphone, that could result in two charges, which means double the punishment. Email and text? Two charges. And the charges will stack up quickly thanks to the various tech tools at our disposal.

If communication leads to establishing a meeting and the adult travels to meet the minor, that will lead to additional charges.

No, prostitution is not legal in Florida. Prostitution remains illegal in every state in the U.S.

Florida prostitution laws prohibit anyone from soliciting sex from individuals. Whether you are trying to use sex work to make money, pay for sex, or are the middleman for prostitution, you can face serious criminal charges that will negatively impact your life.

This means you cannot do the following:

  • Receive or spend financial means for sex
  • Convince others to participate in prostitution
  • Allow others to use your space to participate in prostitution

It’s illegal for any individual to own, operate, establish, or maintain any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution.

In addition to prostitution, the law applies to lewdness and assignation. Florida prostitution laws define lewdness as any obscene or indecent act and assignation as scheduling an appointment or engagement for lewdness or prostitution.

Are Prostitution and Solicitation the Same Under Florida Criminal Law?

Prostitution and solicitation are not the same under Florida criminal law. Yet, it’s easy to confuse the terms. Therefore, any law firm, including ours, would recommend that you not attempt to defend yourself with a basic understanding of these terms. Doing so could result in a harsher sentence from the court.

Florida laws use prostitution as an umbrella term to refer to giving or receiving sexual activity in exchange for something of value. This allows police officers to arrest different people who participate in the action, including:

  • The sex worker (prostitute)
  • The John paying for sex
  • The middleman arranging the transaction (pimp or madam)

On the other hand, solicitation is when one person entices, encourages, or procures another to participate in any act of prostitution. The statute includes two offenses to help crack down on pimps and madams as transactional players.

The first of these offenses is the assignation to commit prostitution. This means scheduling a sex-for-money appointment.

The second of these offenses is deriving support from sex trade proceeds – for instance, if a pimp or madam takes a percentage or a cut of the fee.

Can You Go to Jail for Prostitution in Florida?

Yes, you can go to jail for prostitution in Florida. Depending on the circumstances, you can receive several different criminal charges and jail (or prison) sentences under Florida prostitution laws.

First Offense Charges

A first-time prostitution offense is a second-degree misdemeanor. The punishment is up to 60 days of jail time. The sentence for a second or subsequent violation is a maximum of five years of jail time.

First-offense charges for participating in prostitution with the knowledge that you’re infected with an STD are harsher. If you participate in (or volunteer to partake in) prostitution with the knowledge that you’re infected with HIV, you can receive a maximum of five years in jail. The punishment for participating in prostitution with the knowledge that you are infected with another STD is a maximum of one year in jail. Common examples include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis
  • Herpes
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Syphilis

Johns face stricter penalties than sex workers

A first violation is a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The punishment is a maximum of one year in jail.

Pimps and madams receive even steeper punishments

A first offense is a second-degree felony charge. If convicted, pimps and madams face up a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Forcing another individual into prostitution 

This is punishable by up to five years in prison. However, if that individual is a child or minor (under 18), the penalty is up to 15 years in prison.

Selling a minor into prostitution 

This is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Properties used for prostitution

You can also receive a maximum jail sentence of 60 days if you rent your property for prostitution. Yet, if it’s a second violation or the sex worker is a minor, renting your property can receive a punishment of up to one year in jail.

Computer pornography offenses

To understand the penalties for computer pornography charges, consult Florida Statute 847.0135.

Additional Penalties

While each conviction mentioned above will also come with a financial penalty, there are other consequences you need to be aware of when receiving a prostitution charge.

Those who receive a prostitution conviction (sex workers and Johns) must undergo STD testing. If found to be HIV positive, that individual must undergo treatment before reentering the community.

Further, any individual who receives a prostitution conviction or conviction of a similar crime is barred from becoming a teacher or education employee.

Anyone found guilty of selling a child into prostitution or who procures a child to be prostituted must register as a sex offender in the state.

Committing the Act

For a law enforcement officer to charge you with prostitution, you must have engaged someone selling services and accomplished the exchange of compensation. You cannot receive criminal charges if you don’t complete both actions.

The same is true if you are seeking to purchase services.

If you receive a criminal charge for prostitution, a criminal defense attorney can help create a strong defense strategy. This often includes demonstrating the lack of intent to commit the crime.

For example, asking a sex worker which services they are selling and for how much is not a crime. Some are simply curious about knowing this information and have no intention of buying anything due to a lack of interest.

Others may be interested in purchasing services but are too timid to proceed with the transaction. In these instances, law enforcement cannot charge you with a crime because you didn’t accomplish the transaction.

Methods of Uncovering the Crime

Florida law requires specific elements of prostitution to be met before one can face a conviction. It also dictates how that information can be obtained.

Because Florida prostitution laws state that no citizen can legally partake in acts of prostitution, local police officers cannot use methods like a sting operation to discover other individuals attempting to take part in prostitution.

Since solicitation is also illegal, local law enforcement cannot pretend to purchase sexual services to discover sex workers. This includes contacting someone to carry out the exchange on their behalf. Hiring individuals to participate in prostitution can be seen as coercion.

The Punishment for Solicitation in Florida

The punishment for solicitation varies based on whether it is a first-time offense or not. However, some aspects are the same for everybody convicted of solicitation or prostitution.

If you’re convicted of soliciting a prostitute, you will be required to:

  • Attend a prostitution and human trafficking awareness course
  • Complete 100 hours of community training
  • Get tested for STDs
  • Pay a fine of $5,000. 

Even if you’ve been charged before and completed these requirements, you will need to do them again.

First Time Offense

For a first-time offender, solicitation is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can result in up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and up to a $1,000 fine.

Second Time Offense

A second-time offender will face third-degree felony charges, which are more serious and can result in stiffer penalties. If convicted, they face a minimum of 10 days in jail and up to five years in prison, five years of probation, up to 60 days of vehicle impoundment, and up to a $5,000 fine.

Third Time Offense (Or More)

A third and subsequent violation or offense is considered a second-degree felony.

This is punishable with up to:

  • 15 years in prison
  • 15 years of probation
  • Loss of a vehicle for 60 days, and 
  • Up to $10,000 in fees

Soliciting a prostitute may seem like a harmless crime; however, it can have major consequences for your career, finances, and relationships. If you’re convicted, you will have a black mark on your record that follows you around.

As stated previously, Florida Statutes Section 796.07 prohibits indirect involvement in prostitution. Related crimes that could lead to a prostitution charge include:

  • Owning or operating any place that engages in another’s prostitution or sexual activity for hire.
  • Offering or intending for someone else to engage in prostitution (also known as pimping).
  • Allowing someone to enter or remain in any place or building for the purpose of prostitution.
  • Transporting somebody for the sole purpose of prostitution and sexual acts.
  • Offering to engage in prostitution or sell sexual services.
  • Soliciting or persuading someone to engage in prostitution.
  • Entering any place for the purpose of prostitution.
  • Aiding or abetting prostitution.
  • Purchasing sexual services offered by another.

Seek Representation for Solicitation Charges

If you are charged with a crime, whether it’s solicitation, another sexual offense, or any other crime, it’s crucial that you seek legal representation.

While you will be given the opportunity to secure a free public defender, these lawyers are often overworked and burdened with heavy caseloads. They will be unable to give your case the attention it deserves and may push you to settle your case so they can reduce their own caseload.

Make sure your rights are protected—hire a skilled Tampa defense attorney.

As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Mike G understands how prosecutors work when dealing with cases of a sexual nature. Too often, individuals charged with sexual crimes are treated as if they’re guilty until proven innocent. And even then, because of the connotations and social taboos tied to sex crimes, one’s reputation can be ruined. These types of salacious allegations tend to take on a life of their own, and the internet has made it harder to forget. Allegations and news stories may pop up when an employer or future romantic partner searches your name online. If you’re charged with solicitation, remember that the prosecutors will treat it as a serious offense, and you should too. Hire a defense attorney that will stand by your side and help you out.If you’re charged with a sex crime, get Mike G on your side. He’s ready to fight for you and will work hard to ensure your rights are protected. Mike G is always forthright—he’ll let you know what to expect and give you the legal advice you need to hear so you can make the best choices for your situation.

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