Prostitution is often described as being the world’s oldest profession, but that doesn’t mean Texas law enforcement agencies won’t prosecute it as a crime.
In Texas, prostitution is defined as engaging in or offering to engage in sexual contact in exchange for compensation. A prostitution charge can also be issued even if the other party decides not to pay the fee for the sexual conduct that a person offers.
The potential penalties for a prostitution charge can range from a Class B misdemeanor for 1st-time offenders without any aggravating factors to a 1st-degree felony for someone who is accused of running a prostitution enterprise.
Since being charged with even a single instance of this crime can have lifelong consequences, it’s important to understand the most common defenses attorneys use to beat this type of sex crime charge.
Learn about the legal penalties for solicitation and prostitution in Texas and when to contact a criminal defense attorney.
Potential defense strategies against prostitution charges
Undercover police officers often go on sting operations in parts of town where they know that prostitution is common. In some cases, multiple agencies will work together to create a large-scale sting that results in multiple arrests.
While these methods are effective, they often lead to one of the strongest defenses against a prostitution charge.
Entrapment occurs when a person is prompted or pressured by a law enforcement officer to engage in behavior that they wouldn’t normally choose to do.
For instance, a person who approaches an undercover officer in an unmarked car and offers to perform a sexual act for compensation would have a hard time proving they were coerced.
However, someone who arrives at a blind date in a hotel room and is asked several times by an undercover officer to engage in sex for money could have a strong argument with this defense.
Proving intoxication was a factor
People sometimes do things when they’re intoxicated that they wouldn’t normally do when they’re sober. Their ability to communicate clearly might also be impaired after too many drinks.
If you were solicited to engage in prostitution while you were under the influence, then this could be a possible defense if your lawyer can obtain records from a blood alcohol test or other clear proof that you weren’t capable of making rational decisions.
Showing insufficient probable cause
A law enforcement officer needs to have a clear reason for handing someone these charges, and there are times when the case might not stand up in court.
For example, an officer can’t just assume that two people were discussing an exchange of money for a sexual act just because they see someone walk up to a car and start talking to the driver. If the officer doesn’t have proof that there was an intention to solicit sex, then insufficient probable cause could be used as a defense.
Arguing due process violations
Even if you’re accused of a crime, you still have certain rights that must be upheld. After discussing your case, a lawyer may determine that your rights were violated.
If you were forced to make a self-incriminating statement or were subjected to sexual contact without your permission from an undercover officer, then it’s possible that violations occurred that could render your charges unjust.
Due process is a phrase that’s thrown about casually. But what is due process, and what does this time-honored principle mean in the real world?
Demonstrating proof of being underage
In Texas, a minor cannot consent to sexual conduct with an adult, which means that they’re protected under the law against being charged with prostitution. Instead, the police officers should be charging the adult involved with a crime. Currently, compelling prostitution of a minor is a felony offense.
Being under duress
The state of Texas also makes it illegal to force anyone into an act of prostitution, regardless of the person’s age. If you were threatened with violence or other consequences for not engaging in prostitution, then you can also use this as your defense.
Explaining that no compensation was exchanged
Two consenting adults may choose to meet up and engage in sexual contact without facing consequences, provided that there isn’t an agreement for compensation in place. If no money changed hands, and no one intended it to, then you could use the defense that you were engaging in legal behavior.
Keep in mind that compensation also includes drugs, property and other items of value. You’ll need to be capable of showing that nothing was exchanged for your sexual conduct.
Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights
Being accused of prostitution can leave you facing multiple emotional and financial challenges. On top of potentially being sentenced to jail times and fines, you may also be struggling with the knowledge that having a sex crime on your record could leave you facing social stigma that impacts your future relationships and ability to secure a professional job.
If you’ve been charged with prostitution in Texas, reach out to an experienced sex crime defense attorney who can help you build a case that minimizes the effects a conviction could have on your future.