While often called "the world's oldest profession," prostitution is illegal in Florida, and both those offering and receiving services are subject to penalties. Thus, it's critical to get legal help quickly if you're accused of prostitution or soliciting prostitution.
How Is Prostitution Defined In Florida?
Florida law defines prostitution as the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire. Sexual relations between spouses are specifically excluded in this definition. Prostitution charges vary with the circumstances of the crime: While first-time offenses involving adult participants are considered second-degree misdemeanors, prostitution involving a minor (anyone under 18) is a first-degree felony that can result in life imprisonment.
Moreover, prostitution charges, especially those involving minors, may be combined with other charges, such as kidnapping, sexual assault, battery, or child pornography. These are all serious charges and even if you’re exonerated, your reputation may be ruined. This makes it especially critical that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney from the start.
Deriving Support from Prostitution
Deriving financial benefit from prostitution—even if one does not directly participate in it — is also a crime under Florida law. Thus, pimps and operators of brothels or illicit massage parlors are subject to charges for deriving support for prostitution. For such charges to hold, the prosecution must prove that prostitution took place with the defendant's knowledge, and the defendant shared in the earnings from acts of prostitution. Deriving support from prostitution is a third-degree felony and can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years, along with fines up to $5,000.
Procuring A Minor For Prostitution
Procuring a minor (anyone under 18 years of age) for prostitution or causing a minor to engage in prostitution is a serious crime in Florida, even with the minor's consent. It is treated as a second-degree felony and can lead to prison sentences up to 15 years, along with hefty fines. Penalties for repeat offenders may be even harsher.
Prostitution Of A Child
Engaging in prostitution of a child is considered an especially grave offense. It is treated as a first-degree felony in Florida and can lead to life imprisonment and fines up to $10,000. These penalties can be compounded by those for related charges, such as sexual battery or kidnapping. Those convicted of prostitution of a child under 13 often face additional charges for kidnapping and false imprisonment, which themselves have heavy penalties. Like those convicted of other sex crimes, those convicted of prostitution of a child are obligatorily registered on the national sex offenders registry.
Renting Space For Prostitution
Renting space for prostitution is also illegal in Florida, and a first-time conviction is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties increase for subsequent offenses; a second offense is a first-degree misdemeanor. For a conviction to be made, the prosecution must prove the defendant knew the rented space would be used for prostitution.
Solicitation Elements of Proof
For a person to be convicted of solicitation for prostitution, there must proof that this person explicitly sought out another person for an act of prostitution and did so for the specific reason of engaging this person in such an act. (Many escort services skirt the law by avoiding any mention of sexual contact in their advertising.) The exchange of money or offering to transport someone to another location for prostitution are also considered elements of proof of solicitation.
Florida Prostitution Penalties
Penalties for prostitution and related crimes vary with the severity of the crime, the age of those involved, and the previous criminal records of those involved. Sentences can range from 60 days for certain misdemeanors to life sentences for first-degree felonies, particularly those involving children. Heavy fines may also be levied along with prison or jail sentences in some cases. For some first-time offenders, penalties may include obligatory classes on the social damage caused by prostitution and sex trafficking. Those found using a car while soliciting or engaging in prostitution may have the car impounded by the court.
How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
A conviction for prostitution or a related crime is serious business, and if charged, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who understands the ins and outs of sex crime defenses. Adam Stout is an experienced Gainesville defense attorney with a solid track record of helping clients navigate sex crime charges. As a former prosecutor, he has the skill and knowledge to fight back on your behalf. Don't take any chances with your future — call criminal defense attorney Adam Stout today.