Prostitution in Virginia
If you are facing charges for prostitution in Virginia, let criminal defense attorney Gretchen T. Pousson defend your rights, freedom, and future.
What Is Considered Prostitution in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
In the US, approximately 80,000 prostitution-related arrests are made every year. Virginia is among the most stringent states when it comes to prosecuting prostitution crimes, and the laws strictly prohibit prostitution and criminal activities connected to it. In Virginia, any payment made for the agreement, participation, and proposal to any sexual act is criminalized and punishable under the Commonwealth’s prostitution and solicitation laws.
The definition of prostitution, according to § 18.2-346 of the Virginia Law Code applies to any person who, for money or its equivalent, agrees to participate in sexual acts. A criminal charge for this type of crime shouldn’t be taken lightly, so contact trusted Virginia criminal lawyer Gretchen T. Pousson of Scrofano Law, PC today if you have been charged with prostitution in VA.
For consultation on a VA prostitution offense, call 202-765-3175 today!
Solicitation of Prostitution Virginia
One of the most commonly-prosecuted prostitution-related crimes in Virginia is solicitation. Solicitation is the effort to petition for favors of a sexual nature or the acquisition of sexual acts and/or contact relating to the payment of sexual actions from another party. Solicitation is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, a criminal offense that carries serious legal penalties, whether you are found to be asking for sexual services for payment or asking for such favors in exchange for another person’s sexual activity.
Sexual contact is not necessary for a solicitation charge, making it especially necessary to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Alexandria to fight your solicitation charges. To convict someone of solicitation for prostitution, the Commonwealth must prove the following three components:
- There was an offer or exchange of money or value.
- There was intent that a sex act would be performed.
- There was a significant act in furtherance of the offer.
Prostitution Laws in Virginia
Both prostitution and solicitation are classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. The maximum penalty may increase for repeat offenses and for prostitution crimes involving minors.
An additional type of prostitution-related crime in Virginia is “keeping, residing, or frequenting a bawdy place,” outlined in § 18.2-347 of the Virginia Law Code. This crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor and outlaws any act related to patronizing or owning a “place within or outside any building or structure that is used or is to be used for lewdness, assignation, or prostitution”.
There are also other more serious crimes involving solicitation and prostitution. Pandering, or as some might call “pimping”, is a Class 4 felony offense that is often prosecuted much more aggressively than mere solicitation. Pandering involves causing, inducing, enticing, procuring, or compelling an individual to engage in prostitution. It carries a penalty of two to ten years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Prosecutors often use pandering as a crime to go after human traffickers and other more serious individuals in the sex trafficking world, and having a dedicated legal advocate on your side is a must when attempting to fight these serious criminal charges.
A typical sentence for standard Class 1 misdemeanor prostitution crimes is probation. These tend to be the types of crimes where individuals need to be caught in the act for the police to make an arrest. Accordingly, Virginia’s local police departments periodically waste tons of taxpayer money by launching elaborate prostitution-related stings that involve a combination of street and hotel “sting operations.”
Talk to a criminal defense expert today. Call 202-765-3175 or contact us right away.
Inside Undercover Stings for Prostitution in Virginia
As mentioned above, to prosecute someone for solicitation under Virginia prostitution laws, the government must show that an offer of sex for money or money for sex is knowingly and voluntarily made. Most arrests in Virginia involve undercover law enforcement officers posing as prostitutes or johns and rely on the testimony of the undercover officer at trial.
In a typical hotel sting, an undercover police officer will put on an online ad on a site known for escort and prostitution services, like Backpage or Craigslist, and simply wait for the calls to come in. An undercover officer posing as a prostitute will usually be in one hotel room while the arrest team will be in an adjoining room. Once the undercover gives a signal, the arrest team comes in and makes the arrest.
In what is quite unbelievable, the undercover officers virtually never record the conversation between the officer posing as a prostitute and the soon-to-be arrested client. The reason this conduct is unbelievable is the actual criminal act that takes place in these situations is the conversation—the words explicitly agreeing to provide money for sex acts. Why they would not want to have the strongest evidence possible for these types of cases by recording the conversation that triggers the arrest is anybody’s guess. As experienced criminal defense attorneys who have dealt with dozens of cases like this, we have some thoughts.
Another example of undercover Virginia prostitution sting operations is the classic streetwalking situation. An undercover officer posing as a prostitute will flag down a vehicle—in many cases uber or taxi drivers — and attempt to offer sex for money. Again, undercover officers do not record these conversations despite the fact anyone with a smartphone can record a conversation.
Convictions and Defenses of Prostitution Virginia
These activities reflect a pattern among police departments of vigorous enforcement of prostitution and solicitation offenses. This pattern of aggressive enforcement oftentimes conflicts with the prosecution and local government’s position on the issue. For example, most prosecutors will offer diversion for Virginia prostitution cases, which require the defendant to complete community service in exchange for dismissal of the charges. This light prosecution often conflicts with the heavy hand exercises in police enforcement efforts.
As it currently stands, prostitution remains illegal in Virginia. Many people who get arrested for this Class 1 misdemeanor offense often want to use the defense of entrapment. Unfortunately, entrapment is a notoriously difficult defense to prove. Another common misconception is that if you ask an undercover police officer if they are a cop and they say no, it somehow creates an entrapment defense. That is not at all true. Courts have long recognized that police can lie, trick, and persuade while working in an undercover capacity. It’s actually more likely to get a successful result — depending on the facts — to assert a defense that the words being spoke were either not sincere or in jest. No matter the case, we’ll help construct a strong defense against your Virginia prostitution charges.
Facing Charges for Prostitution in Virginia
While many people think that solicitation and prostitution are victimless crimes, solicitation of prostitution in Virginia is illegal and brings major legal repercussions.
Beyond the legal repercussions for this Class 1 misdemeanor, a charge of solicitation has severe ramifications for the professional and personal lives of those charged. An arrest for solicitation can be embarrassing, cause problems at work, and have negative social consequences lasting long after your arrest. In some cases, a prostitution conviction can result in a job loss or an inability to pursue some careers. The stigma can be highly detrimental to personal relationships and more.
You don’t need to perform any kind of sexual intercourse to be convicted of soliciting prostitution; trying is enough for prostitution charges. Even aiding prostitution carries the same penalties as the Virginia prostitution offenses. In other words, even if an individual provides information to another on how or where to procure prostitutes or engage in prostitution or transports someone to any place used for prostitution, it can result in a misdemeanor conviction.
Looking for an Experienced Virginia Prostitution Lawyer? Contact Gretchen T. Pousson!
If you or someone you know has been arrested for solicitation or another prostitution-related offense, know that you have options. For the best chance at fighting your prostitution or solicitation charges, it’s important that you speak to a qualified Northern Virginia prostitution attorney.
Prostitution attorney in Virginia Gretchen T. Pousson has handled dozens of solicitation-related offenses and can help you navigate your way through the criminal justice system. Contact us today for a confidential case evaluation.
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