Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but it is also one of the most criminalized. Ohio has made it illegal to work as a prostitute and will prosecute any man or woman who the police find is offering sex for hire. The definition of “sex for hire,” however, is blurry, and many innocent people might get swept up in a police sting.
At Groth & Associates, we represent defendants other law firms won’t. If you have been arrested for prostitution, you might feel embarrassed and fearful that your arrest will become public knowledge. For help with your defense, please contact one of our Toledo prostitution defense lawyers today.
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OHIO’S PROSTITUTION LAWS
There are a couple of laws in the penal code that deal with prostitution. Some of the most important to identify include the following.
ORC §2907.25. This law makes it illegal to engage in sex for hire, which is a misdemeanor in the third degree. The law also makes it illegal for a person who has tested positive for HIV to engage in sex for hire, which is a felony in the third degree.
Sexual activity is broad and includes oral, anal, and vaginal sex, including sexual touching. Someone who agrees to accept $10 to let a person feel them up could be violating the state’s prostitution laws.
ORC §2907.21. The law makes it illegal to knowingly force or compel a person to engage in sex for hire. It also casts a wide net with respect to minors and makes it illegal to:
- Encourage, induce, request, or in any way facilitate a minor having sex for hire, regardless of the minor’s true age.
- Pay or agree to pay a minor for sex, either directly or indirectly.
- Allow a minor child to engage in sex for hire if the defendant is a parent, guardian, or custodian.
The laws on compelling minors apply even if the prostitute is not really a minor but the defendant thinks he or she is.
Generally, compelling prostitution is a third-degree felony. Compelling a minor to engage in prostitution could be a second- or first-degree felony, depending on the minor’s age and other surrounding circumstances.
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PENALTIES FOR PROSTITUTION
There are many social movements to decriminalize prostitution happening around the world today. Unfortunately, none of them have reached Ohio, which can and will throw the book at someone arrested for prostitution. Those charged with compelling a minor to engage in prostitution, in particular, could face an aggressive prosecution and unflattering news stories.
A third-degree misdemeanor conviction for engaging in prostitution can result in:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- A $500 fine
A conviction for a third-degree felony will result in the following penalties:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- A fine up to $10,000
Those convicted of a first-degree felony are facing over a decade in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. If convicted of child prostitution, then the defendant must register as a sex offender, which is a public registry.
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DEFENSES TO A PROSTITUTION CHARGE
The best defense to bring will depend on the facts of the case. Many defendants are picked up by police officers pretending to be customers. Few real customers will turn in a prostitute to the police, since solicitation is also a crime, but the police regularly set up stings to arrest people.
One common defense is entrapment. We can raise this defense when we can show that the police encouraged a defendant to commit a crime they otherwise would not commit. This is a tough defense, and it means more than the police giving a person the opportunity to commit the crime. Instead, we need to show that the intent to commit the crime originated with the police or an informant. If an officer talks a person into engaging in sex for hire, then entrapment has probably taken place. But it is not entrapment for an officer to ask a person to have sex for money. If the person accepts, then they can be arrested.
There are other defenses we can bring, including:
- Mistaken identity. The police might have arrested the wrong man or woman. Most stings happen at night, and it is easy for the police to misidentify someone. A defendant with an alibi is in a strong position to contest the arrest.
- Lack of evidence. The police must prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, there might be doubt about whether there was any discussion of having sex.
- No payment. It is not a crime to engage in consensual sexual activity with another adult. If no payment was made, offered, or promised, then you can defend the case on those grounds.
The less you tell the police after the arrest, the better. They are unlikely to take pity on someone who confesses to financial difficulties, so it is best to avoid trying to talk your way out of a charge. Instead, hire an attorney who can protect your right to a fair trial and who will make sure the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each case is unique. Some defense lawyers simply hope for a plea deal and then wash their hands of the case. At Groth & Associates, we seek the most favorable outcome, including dismissal of charges, and we are never afraid to take a case in front of a jury.
PROTECTING YOUR REPUTATION
Perhaps the most challenging part of an arrest for prostitution is the public scorn that it brings. Many people find themselves in difficult situations, particularly financially. They do not deserve to be judged by people who do not know them or their life histories.
At Groth & Associates, we advise our clients on how to protect their reputations, including limiting their use of social media after an arrest and not talking about the details of the crime, even with close friends or family members. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, even if this is not how the public views those arrested for prostitution.
SPEAK WITH ONE OF OUR TOLEDO PROSTITUTION DEFENSE ATTORNEYS NOW
The criminal defense attorneys at Groth & Associates believe that the best defense begins with picking up the phone and calling an attorney. We can meet with you anywhere and discuss your case, along with possible defenses to the prostitution charges. Please reach out to us today to schedule your consultation.