New Texas prostitution laws have increased the severity of all prostitution-related charges in the state, but have they changed the book on how to beat a solicitation charge in Texas? Forensic Lawyer-Scientist Mark Thiessen from Thiessen Law Firm is here to tell you all about the changes caused by the new legislation.
Although each state has a unique legal tolerance for the world’s oldest profession, and it is completely disallowed in all states but Nevada, none are cracking down on Johns quite like the Lone Star State. Solicitation of prostitution has never been a charge to take lightly, but in the year 2021, if you or a loved one has been charged with solicitation of prostitution in Texas, it is more important than ever to have expert counsel on your side from the first moment. Here is why.
Texas’ prostitution law 2021
Texas prostitution laws were changed on September 1, 2021. In a bid to combat rising sex trafficking in the region, the state of Texas has become the first state to make the act of buying sex a felony. In doing so they have targeted the customer by increasing the punishment for solicitation of prostitution from a Class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony, with a second offense for solicitation now representing a third-degree felony.
These new Texas prostitution laws also mean steeper punishment for those trying to recruit individuals for sex work. While combatting systemic trafficking by targeting those soliciting prostitution has drawn widespread criticism, the problem is complex and the implications of the law are manifold. Texas simply hopes that in reducing the demand for prostitution they can also reduce the supply, where most of the more grievous crimes are taking place.
The specifics of solicitation
People are often surprised that they can be arrested for solicitation before money has even been exchanged. In fact, they only have to offer or agree to engage in paid sexual conduct to be charged with solicitation. The exact terms by which this transaction is defined are exceptionally vague and are designed to aid the police in making arrests. You must only demonstrate the intent to solicit prostitution in order to be picked up and booked. Some examples of evidence that can be used to establish intent to solicit prostitution include:
- Having a sex worker enter your car
- Driving to a location wherein paid sex will take place
- Withdrawing money from an ATM
- Offering to engage in sex for money
The actions of solicitation do have to extend beyond availability or simple communications, which is why action is usually necessary for the police to develop probable cause or reasonable suspicion to arrest someone. Police may stage a sting operation if they have reasonable suspicion of prostitution, and this is often how prospective buyers are caught.
What is the penalty for prostitution in Texas?
As detailed above, the penalty for soliciting prostitution in Texas became much more severe under the new Texas Penal Code 43.021, seeing charges turn from misdemeanors into felonies and exponential increases in jail time. This is the breakdown under the new law:
- First offense for soliciting prostitution is a state jail felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum jail sentence of 2 years.
- Second offense for soliciting prostitution is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.
- Soliciting someone under the age of 18 is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum jail sentence of 20 years.
These charges represent a dramatic change in Texas’ policy on how to handle would-be buyers, an aggressive stance meant to deter (or detain) those who were previously unmoved.
However, the real consequences can follow a person for the rest of their lives, endangering their reputation and livelihood for long after the length of the case. Solicitation of prostitution, like all sex-related offenses, will show up on a criminal background check in Texas for things like employment, housing, and loans — making it even more imperative that the accused get quality representation, and fast.
Continue reading: How to get a felony expunged in Texas
How to beat a solicitation charge in Texas: Defense strategies
Solicitation charges, while serious, are not the end of the road if you have the right representation. Hire a skilled prostitution defense attorney in Houston like Mark Thiessen who knows how to beat a solicitation charge in Texas. It is the best thing you can do to build a strong defense and help you clear your name.
There are a few ways to defend a solicitation charge:
- The defendant was ignorant of the fact that the other party was a prostitute
- The evidence of specific action is insufficient
- The evidence is of untrustworthy provenance
- The defendant was entrapped by the police
- The defendant agreed to a sexual act but did not agree to exchange money
- The defendant agreed under duress
- Legal impossibility
If you have been unfortunate enough to be picked up for solicitation, you should politely tell the police that you would like to reserve comment until you speak with your lawyer.
Hire an Experienced Prostitution Defense Attorney from Thiessen Law Firm
Although the new Texas prostitution laws have magnified the charges, they have not changed the strategy for how to beat a solicitation charge in Texas. Mark Thiessen from Thiessen Law Firm is the top criminal defense attorney in Texas. He will fight for your freedom.
The game plan remains the same: avoid discussing the allegations with anyone and call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-864-9000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:
- THC vs. CBD: Can Police Really Tell the Difference?
- How Much Are DWI Attorney Fees in Texas in 2021?
- Is Road Rage or Reckless Driving in Texas a Criminal Offense?
- What is Criminally Negligent Homicide in Texas?
- The Difference Between Revoked vs. Suspended License