Ohio law makes it illegal to offer sex for hire, which dries up the supply of prostitution. But the law also criminalizes offering to hire someone for sex, which is an attempt to limit the demand for prostitution.
If you have been arrested for soliciting sex, you need an attorney with the right experience to represent you. Sex solicitation cases often make the news and can be quite embarrassing. The police also use far too many resources trying to arrest someone for this crime. Meet with one of our Toledo sex solicitation defense lawyers for a free consultation.
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OHIO’S SOLICITATION LAW
Ohio Revised Code § 2907.24 criminalizes soliciting sex from another person who is 18 or older. Any violation of this law is a third-degree misdemeanor which can result in up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
Solicitation is very broad. A defendant solicits sex for hire when they entice, lure, or ask for sex in exchange for money or something of value. A transaction does not actually have to take place for a person to be convicted of solicitation.
Ohio’s law increases penalties depending on the age of the person solicited or their developmental disability:
- If the person solicited was 16 or 17, then it is a fifth-degree felony. A fifth-degree felony can result in 6-12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500. The defendant must either know the age or have been reckless in not finding out.
- If the person solicited was under age 16, then the crime is a third-degree felony, which can land someone in jail for up to 5 years and result in a $10,000 fine.
- If the person solicited had a developmental disability that the defendant knew or should have known about, then the crime is a third-degree felony with the penalties listed above.
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OHIO’S LAW ON LOITERING TO ENGAGE IN SOLICITATION
Ohio Revised Code § 2907.241 criminalizes loitering to engage in solicitation. This is a very broad statute that makes it illegal to do any of the following in public for the purpose of trying to solicit someone to have sex for money:
- Stop or beckon another person to stop
- Start up a conversation
- Approach a parked car or try to stop another vehicle
- Beckon someone to approach a vehicle
- Stop a vehicle or attempt to stop a vehicle
- Interfere with another person’s free movement
This law has been designed to catch people who decide to solicit sex but then lose their nerve before going through with it. For example, a person might see a suspected prostitute on a street corner and stop their vehicle and roll down their window before changing their mind and driving away. They can be convicted under this statute of a crime if they had the intent to solicit sex when they performed any of them.
Someone convicted of loitering to engage in solicitation can be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, which can land a defendant in jail for up to 30 days or result in a $500 fine, or both.
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HOW NOT TO DEFEND YOUR SOLICITATION CASE
Some defendants who represent themselves raise defenses that would make a judge laugh. For example, the following are not defenses to a solicitation charge:
- But we didn’t have sex! No sex is required to be convicted of solicitation. Solicitation is, basically, the crime of asking for sex. If sex did take place, you could be convicted of compelling prostitution.
- But I never even paid! Offering to pay for sex is enough to support a solicitation conviction. Money does not actually need to change hands.
- I paid but I didn’t use money! The compensation offered in exchange for sex does not have to be monetary. It can be goods or services of value, including drugs, food, or a ride to the bus stop.
- But we’re the same gender! Men can solicit sex from men, and women can solicit sex from women. A judge will not be impressed with this type of argument.
- But that ‘prostitute” was actually a cop! Bingo! The police engage in stings all the time to try and catch people for solicitation of prostitution. These cases then make the newspapers, causing intense embarrassment.
To bring the best defense, you should meet with an attorney who can review the facts of your case. It is often possible to raise doubt about some aspects of the case, which makes it much harder for a prosecutor to get a conviction.
A WORD ABOUT ENTRAPMENT
One defense we sometimes bring is entrapment. Legally, a person is entrapped when the police or one of their informants actually implants the intent to commit a crime in the defendant’s mind.
It is not entrapment to give another person the chance to commit a crime, however. So a police officer dressed up as a prostitute and strolling the streets has not entrapped a person who pulls up and offers to pay money for sex.
However, entrapment might exist when the officer is the one who offers to have sex for money and the defendant merely agrees. As one Ohio court found, when the officer suggests a transaction, then the officer is the one soliciting sex, not the defendant, who is merely agreeing.
As attorneys, we will closely analyze any conversation that our clients had with the police to determine who actually proposed exchanging money for sex. If the officer raised the issue, then entrapment might exist. At a minimum, we can often raise reasonable doubt about what was said.
MAKE YOUR FIRST CALL TO A TOLEDO SEX SOLICITATION DEFENSE LAWYER
If you have been picked up for solicitation, please contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The less you say to the police, the better. Many defendants dig themselves into a hole by admitting to an officer that they were trying to solicit sex. In fact, it is very difficult for the state to get a conviction for loitering to engage in solicitation unless a defendant admits what they were doing.
At Groth & Associates, we provide vigorous representation for all sex crimes, including solicitation. Speak to one of our lawyers today for a free consultation.