Washington, D.C. Police continue to crack down on prostitution, and their efforts are being supported by D.C. Councilman, Jack Evans. In the month of July, 2015 D.C. police have arrested more than 30 people in prostitution stings. All the arrests appear to have been men allegedly seeking sex for money, otherwise known as solicitation of prostitution.
Councilman, Jack Evans, in an apparent effort to further humiliate solicitation defendants, has proposed a measure that will allow MPD to tow and impound the vehicles of those arrested for solicitation. Referred to as the “Honey I Lost the Car,” bill, it will only require that MPD officers determine that there is “probable cause” to believe that the car was used by a so-called john. Evans reportedly indicated that the purpose of the bill is “to deter people from trying to pick up prostitutes because they would be embarrassed to lose their car for the crime.”
Washington D.C. would not be the first city to enact such a measure to deter solicitation of prostitution. Like in those cities, prostitution defendants could have their car towed and impounded even before they are found guilty of a charged crime. In fact, even if the case is dismissed or you are ultimately found not-guilty by a judge, you would still lose your car.
Evans’s proposed bill is just another battle in D.C.’s recent escalation of the war on prostitution. Although the murder rate in D.C. will likely rise for the second consecutive year, MPD continues to allocate resources and man-power to combat consensual sex among adults. Instead of deploying more patrols to high crime areas, MPD is placing sex ads on the internet and lying-in-wait at tax-payer-paid-for hotel rooms for men who answer the ads.
Solicitation of prostitution charges expose a defendant to up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. Even just an arrest for solicitation will usually stay on your record for at least two years, and a conviction may have to be disclosed on a job or other application. Add the expense of a lawyer, the social stigma, and perhaps soon, a lost automobile, and the consequences of getting caught up in an MPD prostitution sting can be devastating.
There are a couple of common misconceptions that seem to be shared by solicitation defendants I have represented. The first, is that an undercover police officer has to reveal her identity if asked. Where this rumor got started, I’m not sure, but it is completely FALSE. Police officers are absolutely not required to tell you that they are police officers, even if asked. They are told to lie, they are trained on how to lie, and they will always lie. Their lies are not a defense, and asking them whether they are police will not, in any way, protect you.
The second defense that is usually misunderstood by solicitation defendants is called entrapment. I’ve posted a blog on this before, but it’s worth repeating. Just because an undercover police officer approaches you and asks you “what you want,” does not mean that you have been entrapped. A person is entrapped if law enforcement officials induce a person to commit a crime which he would not otherwise have committed. Entrapment does not occur if the person is ready and willing to violate the law, and the police merely afford an opportunity for him to do so. The theory is that if a defendant is not inclined to have sex for money, they will just say no, when asked. Should undercover police officers approach citizens and offer sex for money? Not in my opinion. But does the law allow it? Unfortunately, yes.
While entrapment is not usually a viable defense, there are other defenses to solicitation charges. Each case is different, based on the individual facts, and some are more easily defended than others.
If you’ve been arrested for solicitation or prostitution, contact JPMLegal for a free assessment of your case, and a discussion of your possible defenses.