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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Prostitution and related charges can be a large source of stress and embarrassment for you and your family. Mere allegations of prostitution offenses can be damaging to your reputation and endanger your position in the community. However, you may be able to combat the accusations against you with the assistance of a Fort Worth prostitution lawyer.
In some cases, law enforcement officials engage in targeted “sting” operations to catch unwitting individuals in prostitution and related charges. These situations easily can result in criminal charges, but there may be defenses available to you. Regardless of what lead to the charges you are facing, an experienced defense lawyer could help you identify and take advantage of the defenses that may be available to you.
Defining Prostitution in Fort Worth
Under Tex. Pen. Code § 43.02, prostitution occurs in two situations:
- A person purposely offers or agrees to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct
- Someone purposely offers or agrees to pay a fee to another to engage in sexual conduct with either that person or another person
The definition of this offense provides for equal treatment for individuals who agree to engage in sexual conduct for a fee and those who agree to pay a fee for sexual conduct. Furthermore, this section does not require that any sexual conduct actually occur. The fact that the accused made an offer or an agreement with another is enough to establish the offense.
The term “fee” as used in this section does not only refer to money. Rather, fee simply refers to payment or the offer of payment of something of value, whether it is money, goods, services, or another benefit.
Other Related Offenses
Aside from the general prostitution statute, there are various other statutes that define offenses related to prostitution. For example, promotion of prostitution involves receiving money or other proceeds from an agreement to participate in prostitution or soliciting another to engage in sexual conduct for compensation. This offense becomes aggravated if it involves individuals under the age of 18. Compelling prostitution occurs when someone knowingly uses force, threats, or fraud to commit prostitution or forces a child under the age of 18 to commit prostitution.
What Are The Punishments for These Charges?
In general, prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 12.22, penalties for a Class B misdemeanor can include a jail term of no more than 180 days and a fine of no more than $2,000.
If, however, a person has one or two prior prostitution convictions, the charge increases to a Class A misdemeanor. Under § 12.21, a Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of no more than $4,000.
Individuals with three or more prior prostitution convictions may face state jail felony charges. A conviction for a state jail felony under § 12.35 can result in a sentence of incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years and a $10,000 fine.
Prostitution also can result in a felony conviction if the person with whom sexual contact is sought is under the age of 18, if another has portrayed them to be under 18, or if another believes them to be under 18. No matter whether someone knew that the subject of the sexual contact was under 18 or not, the offense still automatically increases to a felony. In this case, § 12.33 provides that the charge is a second-degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine of $10,000.
Consult a Fort Worth Prostitution Attorney Today
Prostitution charges can be very serious, both in terms of their potential penalties and their damage to your reputation. However, you may be able to avoid some of the negative consequences of these charges by engaging the services of a Fort Worth prostitution lawyer.
With the assistance of a skilled attorney, you may be able to assess the evidence against you and make the decisions that are right for your unique situation. Call today to learn more about defending yourself against these charges.