Prostitution crimes of Florida
Disclaimer: This page is not intended as legal advice. It is provided to give you basic information to use as a starting point in discussions with your attorney.
Prostitution is commonly referred to as “the world’s oldest profession.” However, in Florida it is still illegal. It is a criminal offense that can be punished with a sentence in the Florida state prison system. Fines can be as high as $5,000 for a first offense. It is also an embarrassing charge with mandatory STD testing and other awkward considerations.
Prostitution stings are conducted quite often in many jurisdictions in Florida. This can either be an undercover officer acting as a prostitute looking for a john, or an undercover officer pretending to be looking for a “date.” These stings are often videotaped and many times photos of offenders are published in the paper.
If you have been accused of any type of prostitution charge, you need competent and compassionate representation working for you. Call an attorney immediately to discuss your options!! At Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins we are available day or night to represent you. Call us now at 1-888-424-7777!
HOW PROSTITUTION IS DEFINED IN FLORIDA
Florida statute 796.07 is titled “Prohibiting prostitution and related acts.” In addition to listing several definitions it also describes prohibited conduct. There are several ways a person can be charged with a prostitution crime.
Under the statute “prostitution” means the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.
Florida statute 796.07(2) sets out all of the different ways prostitution can be charged. Under this statute it is unlawful:
- To own, establish, maintain, or operate any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
- To offer, or to offer or agree to secure, another for the purpose of prostitution or for any other lewd or indecent act.
- To receive, or to offer or agree to receive, any person into any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, or to permit any person to remain there for such purpose.
- To direct, take, or transport, or to offer or agree to direct, take, or transport, any person to any place, structure, or building, or to any other person, with knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that the purpose of such directing, taking, or transporting is prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- To offer to commit, or to commit, or to engage in, prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- To solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- To reside in, enter, or remain in, any place, structure, or building, or to enter or remain in any conveyance, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- To aid, abet, or participate in any of the acts or things enumerated in this subsection.
- To purchase the services of any person engaged in prostitution.
What is lewdness or assignation?
As defined by the statute:
“Lewdness” means any indecent or obscene act.
“Assignation” means the making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement.
So what activities are illegal?
Florida statute 796.07(2) set out nine different ways that you can be charged with a prostitution crime. But overall what it means is that:
- You can’t offer to exchange sex or sex related activity for money or other type of compensation
- You can’t offer someone else money or other compensation in exchange for sex or sex related activity
- You can’t help other people arrange to exchange sexual services or related activities for money or other compensation
- You can’t transport people if you know the reason you are transporting them is so they can meet and exchange sex or sexual services for money or other compensation
- You can’t have a room or business or location that you keep specifically for purposes of people (including yourself) meeting for sex or sexual type services in exchange for money or other compensation.
NOTE: COMPENSATION CAN INCLUDE TRADING DRUGS FOR SEX
What is the punishment for a prostitution charge?
Punishment for a prostitution charge varies depending on how many prior convictions you have in the past. Under Florida statute 796.07(4) a person can be sentenced as follows:
(a) A misdemeanor of the second degree for a first violation
- This means you can receive a sentence as low as a fine or court costs.
- The highest sentence you can receive is 60 days in the county jail
- Most offenders receive the maximum probation jurisdiction of six months to complete STD screenings and AIDS awareness training
(b) A misdemeanor of the first degree for a second violation
- This means you can receive a sentence as low as a fine or court costs, but it is highly unlikely that this will be the case.
- The highest sentence you can receive is one year in the county jail
- Most offenders receive the maximum probation jurisdiction of twelve months to complete STD screenings and AIDS awareness training
- In some jurisdictions there is also a condition imposed for repeat offenders called “the exclusion zone.” This is a geographical area that the offender is not allowed to enter for the time they are on probation. The exclusion zone is usually the area where the offense occurred that is known in the community and law enforcement to be a common place for prostitution to take place.
(c) A felony of the third degree for a third or subsequent violation
- This means you face up to five years in prison
- You can also face fines of up to $5,000 in addition to court costs.
- Probationary periods can last up to five years as well.
Any of these sentences can be expensive and inconvenient. So it is important to speak with an attorney about your options. It can also be embarrassing. Call the professionals at Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins at 1-888-424-7777 to speak with a quality attorney about your defense options. We are here 24/7 for you!
What is the “John Statute”?
The “John Statute” is designed to discourage men who try to enlist the services of prostitutes from doing so. Under Florida statute 796.07(6), a person who is convicted of soliciting a prostitute must pay a mandatory $5,000 fine.
This means if you are caught asking someone to exchange sex for money or services or compensation you must be fined $5,000 in addition to any other penalty.
Why is the fine so high?
The fine is high because of the theory of supply and demand. Lawmakers want to discourage people from looking for prostitutes. The idea is if you take away the people looking for a prostitute because it is not worth risking having to pay a $5,000 fine, then there will be no demand for the business and there will be fewer offenses.
Another reason the fine is so high is because there has been a rise in underage prostitution. In order to fund programs that can combat this, lawmakers needed a funding source. Lawmakers decided this source would come from the people on the street convicted of looking for prostitutes.
What do they do with this fine money?
The first $500 of the $5,000 fine goes into a fund used for paying administrative costs of Drug Court.
The other $4,500 is used by the Department of Children and Family Services for the sole purpose of funding safe houses and short-term safe houses for children to protect against exploitation.
Prostitution and Drug Court
Many people who become involved in prostitution do so because they have a drug problem. Sometimes the person who is offering their body does so to try to obtain money for drugs, other times the person will offer to trade sex for the drugs.
The legislature realizes this as a larger social issue, and therefore they have enacted Florida statute 796.07(5) which mandates alternative sentencing for a third time offender. Instead of facing a mandatory five year prison sentence, a person who is charged with a third or subsequent violation of prostitution shall be offered an opportunity to participate in a pretrial intervention program or a substance abuse treatment program to address their issues.
If accepted into one of these programs, the offender can address the underlying addiction or problem that led to their unlawful behavior. If they are successful they can avoid a lengthy jail sentence and hopefully gain skills that will prevent them from offending in the future.
However, without proper representation, the State will sometimes try to skip this mandatory step and offer heavy jail sentences without giving an alternative. If you are facing a felony prostitution charge it is important you speak with competent counsel to explore all of your options. The attorney you hire can help to hold the State accountable to the statute.
At Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins we are dedicated to doing just that. Our professional and understanding attorneys are willing and able to present the best possible defense for you so that you can obtain the best possible outcome. If you find yourself charged and eligible for diversion programs call us 24/7 to discuss how we can help. We are available by calling 1-888-424-7777.
There is more and more recognition being focused on sex trafficking and forced prostitution. The legislature has made it a crime to force people to prostitute and also to profit from another’s prostitution.
Florida statute 796.04 is titled “Forcing, compelling, or coercing another to become a prostitute.” Under the statute it is “unlawful for anyone to force, compel, or coerce another to become a prostitute.” If you are found guilty of this statute, it is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. This is as to each offense. So if you have forced, coerced or compelled more than one person, you can face five years for each person.
It is also illegal to profit from prostitutes. This is commonly known as “pimping.” This practice has become a bit more widespread with the introduction of “escort services,” “massage parlors,” and “lingerie shows.” These are businesses that often appear on the outside to be a legitimate but are found to be a cover for prostitutes to conduct business in return for a cut of the proceeds.
Florida statute 796.05 makes it clear that it is illegal “for any person with reasonable belief or knowing another person is engaged in prostitution to live or derive support or maintenance in whole or in part from what is believed to be the earnings or proceeds of such person’s prostitution.”
This means if you know they are making money as a prostitute, and you gain from the money they make prostituting themselves, you can be convicted. If you are convicted it is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If you are accused of forcing someone into prostitution, or making money from prostitution, you should hire competent counsel immediately. These arrests are often part of an undercover operation. Navigating the discovery and presenting a solid defense takes a skilled attorney. Many defense firms do not have the time, experience or resources to take this on. At Finenbloom, Haenel & Higgins not only do we have the time, money, experience and resources available, we are willing and available to assist you! Call us now at 1-888-424-7777 today to discuss how we fight for you!
Unfortunately there are more and more reports of minors, and very young minors, being involved in prostitution. Sometimes it is because they are runaways and they are trying to survive. Other times it is due to drug addiction. However, it is becoming more common for parents or guardians to sell children for prostitution purposes.
What does the law say about minors and prostitution?
Florida statute 796.03 states that “a person who procures for prostitution, or causes to be prostituted, any person who is under the age of 18 years commits a felony of the second degree. . .”
What does procure mean?
Procure means to obtain something, or to persuade or cause someone to do something. So if you try to convince a minor to become a prostitute, or if you go around looking for a minor to have sex with you in exchange for some type of compensation, you can be found guilty of this offense.
What is the penalty?
Procuring a minor for prostitution purposes is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What if I was not trying to find an underage prostitute but I was caught with one anyway? or if I don’t ask about age?
Under Florida statute 796.036, if the prostitution offense for which you are charged involves a minor, the punishment you can receive is enhanced one level to make the consequences more severe.
For example, under the statute:
(a) A misdemeanor of the second degree is reclassified to a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(b) A misdemeanor of the first degree is reclassified to a felony of the third degree.
(c) A felony of the third degree is reclassified to a felony of the second degree.
(d) A felony of the second degree is reclassified to a felony of the first degree.
(e) A felony of the first degree is reclassified to a life felony.
This means more severe sanctions for even the first time offender. There is no language in this statute that says you have to know about the age of the minor to be guilty. This is why it is so important to contact an attorney to discuss possible options and defenses before proceeding in your case. The defense team of Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins is here for you. Call us anytime at 1-888-424-7777 and allow us to explain how we can fully and competently represent you!
The Buying and Selling of Minors
It is unfortunate that this practice has become such a social problem that there needs to be a separate statute to address it. But there are special provisions in the statute that make it illegal to sell your child for the purpose of prostitution. Florida statute 796.035 provides that:
“Any parent, legal guardian, or other person having custody or control of a minor who sells or otherwise transfers custody or control of such minor, or offers to sell or otherwise transfer custody of such minor, with knowledge or in reckless disregard of the fact that, as a consequence of the sale or transfer, the minor will engage in prostitution commits a felony of the first degree . . .”
What does this mean?
This means, if you are a parent, stepparent, foster-parent, relative or any other person who has custody or control over a child for any reason (it could be temporary), and you sell or give the child for someone else knowing that person is going to use the child for purposes of prostitution, you can be guilty of a first degree felony.
“Prostitution,” under the statute, means the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire. But that is not the only activity that can be unlawful.
What if the child is not old for prostitution but to be photographed or filmed?
Florida statute 847.0145 makes it illegal for a parent, legal guardian, or other person having custody or control of a minor to sell or otherwise transfer custody or control of such minor, or offers to sell or otherwise transfer custody of such minor, knowing that the minor will be portrayed in a visual depiction engaging in, or assisting another person to engage in, sexually explicit conduct; or that the minor will be helping others to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
What does this mean?
It means that if you are a parent, stepparent, foster parent or any other type of relative or caregiver to a child, and you sell or give the child away to someone else knowing that they will be photographed or filmed doing sexual things, or that they will be helping others in photographing or filming sexual things, you can be found guilty of a felony of the first degree.
What is the penalty if I am convicted of either of these charges?
Both offenses are first degree felonies which are punishable by up to 30 years in a Florida state prison and $10,000 fines.
What about the person who receives the child?
It is not only illegal to sell or give a child away for a sexual purpose. It is also illegal to buy or take custody of a child for a sexual purpose.
If you buy or take custody of a child for purposes of
- Prostituting the child or
- Taking film or photos of the child performing sexual acts or
- Having the child assist you in any of these activities
You can also be convicted of a first degree felony and spend up to 30 years in prison.
Accusations involving minors are always aggressively prosecuted. The people accused of these crimes are seen by the community as a threat and there is often a public outcry to obtain a conviction. This doubles if the belief is that you subjected your own child to this type of situation. If you have been accused of any of these crimes, contact an experienced and aggressive defense team IMMEDIATELY! Do not make any statements. It is only in this manner that you can hope to mount any plausible defense.
If you find yourself in this difficult and compromising situation, you will need understanding and experienced attorneys to present a strong defense. At Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins we pride ourselves on being accessible, able and available. Call us now at 1-888-424-7777 to fully explore your defense options with a knowledgeable attorney 24/7. Let our team fight for you!