Texas Online Solicitation of Prostitution Laws
The Texas law on prostitution is very clear: it’s a criminal offense that can land you in jail. These days, more and more people are moving their prostitution activities online. For example, some websites offer escort services or body rubs that are actually a cover for illegal prostitution activities. Make no mistake, it’s just as much of a crime to solicit sex for money online as it is on the street.
Texas uses some specific methods to crack down on online solicitation of prostitution cases. If you find yourself facing charges on this offense, you need to know as much as you can about your options.
What Is Solicitation of Prostitution?
Most people are aware that paying for sex in the state of Texas is a criminal offense. However, did you know that you can be arrested, jailed and prosecuted for this crime even if you don’t go through with the act? It’s true, you can face prostitution charges simply for attempting to arrange a transaction with a sex worker. This crime is known as solicitation of prostitution.
Suppose that James is browsing an online forum where locals arrange dates, sell items and share gossip. On one page, James notices that several women are posting pictures of themselves in revealing clothing and offering massages for an hourly fee. James contacts one of these women and sets up a meeting. He shows up to the meeting with cash in his pocket and meets with the woman. He agrees to give her the money when the session is over and then police officers rush in and place him under arrest. They charge him with a prostitution offense.
Even though James did not actually participate in a sexual act, he can still be arrested and charged. This is because he:
- Responded to an ad on a website known to be used by sex workers
- Agreed to meet and pay for a service that could reasonably be expected to include a sexual act for pay
- Showed up to the meeting with cash in the agreed upon amount
Based on this evidence, the police may assume that James intended to pay a prostitute in exchange for sexual services. Under the law, James can be charged with solicitation of prostitution.
The Issue of Intent
In the example above, a person was arrested for their intent to commit a crime. This is because, under Texas law, it is illegal to arrange a criminal act, even if that act doesn’t necessarily take place. To some people, this may look like entrapment. However, law enforcement is very careful to arrange sting operations to catch people who try to pay for sexual services.
These days, many police departments use online stings to gather evidence in prostitution cases. While some people might claim that they are simply trying to pay for a massage from a private individual, the police can use emails, phone conversations and text messages to prosecute these cases in court.
The prosecution may use these messages to claim that a defendant knew exactly what services were being offered, even if those services weren’t explicitly discussed or if they were discussed using coded language. The elements of the offense include:
- A request to exchange money for sex
- An act showing that the defendant intended to follow through on the agreement
Therefore, if a person requests a “full body massage” for $200 from a person on a website and then meets that person with cash in hand, the prosecution may use these facts to claim that the defendant fully intended to pay for sexual services.
In Texas, solicitation of prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor for a first-time offense. A conviction for this offense is punishable by:
- Up to 180 days in county jail
- Up to $2000 in fines
- Community service and probation
Additional prostitution offenses can lead to enhanced penalties and, in some cases, felony charges.
It may seem difficult to fight against solicitation of prostitution charges when the police can make an arrest before a person even goes through with the act. However, in these cases, the prosecution must still prove intent on the part of the defendant.
For this reason, a defense attorney may choose to focus on intent when they present their legal case. For example, they might argue that the defendant was simply exchanging messages online and never intended to actually go through with the act. If the defense attorney can show the court that the defendant never actually made an attempt to complete the agreed-upon act, the charges might be dropped and the defendant may avoid a conviction.
Have you or someone you know been charged with solicitation of prostitution? Get a strong legal defense as soon as possible. Attorney Brett Podolsky can get you the best results possible. Contact his office today at 713-227-0087.