Being charged with the crime of prostitution may result in anything from a second-degree misdemeanor to a second-degree felony. In addition to imprisonment and considerable fines, the defendant is left with the lifelong consequences of having a criminal record for a sex offense. If they are convicted of a felony, there may be additional consequences, including the loss of certain rights, such as the ownership of a firearm or the ability to run for public office. In this situation, you need to consult a sex crime attorney. If you are facing even a first-time charge for prostitution, dedicated Tampa prostitution defense lawyer Will Hanlon can evaluate your case and help protect your future as you fight the charges against you.
The Constitution offers a number of protections to people accused of committing a crime. One of the most important of these is the right to counsel, secured by the Sixth Amendment. This means that a person accused of a crime has a legal right to hire counsel of their choice. While public defenders provide an important service to people who have no other choice, the fact is that they have very heavy caseloads and are under a lot of pressure to move cases through the system quickly. If possible, it helps to have a private attorney who will take the time to listen to your side of the case and advocate aggressively for a favorable outcome rather than settling for the first plea bargain offer.The Prosecution’s Burden of Proof in a Prostitution Case
In a prostitution case, the State must prove that the defendant participated in the criminal offense of prostitution. This includes not only the offering of sexual activity for hire but also the solicitation, purchase, and pandering (often known as “pimping”) of these services. In other words, not only the prostitute but also the “customer” and anyone attempting to hire out the prostitute’s services may be found guilty of prostitution under Florida law. A prostitution defense attorney in the Tampa area can further explain the scope of this law and the activities that it covers.
The punishment for the crime of prostitution is increasingly harsh with each subsequent offense, so it is important to defend even a first-time charge as zealously as possible. A first offense of prostitution may result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. If the alleged prostitute is a minor, a defendant accused of procuring their services faces a second-degree felony. This increases the possible punishment to up to 15 years in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $10,000.
However, the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt remains on the prosecution at all times. This requires establishing guilt to a level of moral certainty that is beyond the “preponderance of the evidence” and “clear and convincing evidence” standards typically used in civil proceedings. It is often possible to challenge the evidence provided by the prosecution, such as by undermining the credibility of its witnesses or building a strong alibi for the defendant’s whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime. In other situations, your attorney may be able to use a defense such as entrapment. This involves showing that law enforcement induced a defendant to commit a crime that they would not have committed of their own volition. Even if the charges are not entirely dropped, vigorously defending a case may encourage the prosecution to reduce the charge or offer a more favorable plea bargain.Speak to a Knowledgeable Prostitution Defense Lawyer in Tampa
Even if you do not have a prior record or have been charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony, it is important not to take a prostitution charge lightly. Tampa prostitution defense attorney Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law has 20 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney in Florida and federal courts. He understands the system, and he will work hard to protect your legal rights. To schedule a consultation regarding a sex crime case in the Tampa Bay area, call us today at 813-228-7095 or contact us online. Will Hanlon also can advise people who need a child pornography lawyer or assistance in fighting allegations of rape, statutory rape, or lewd and lascivious conduct.