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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
In Houston, prostitution is a misdemeanor offense which can result in fines and jail time for a convicted individual. The penalties for prostitution become more severe with subsequent convictions. Fortunately, there are defenses to prostitution which can be utilized to reduce or potentially dismiss a charge. These must be argued carefully to the court with a robust knowledge of the law.
A Houston prostitution lawyer has the legal knowledge and experience to help a person who was charged with prostitution. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer could help you fight your charge or minimize the consequences following a conviction.
According to the Texas Penal Code Section 43.02, there are two ways in which a person can commit a prostitution offense. First, a person can agree to engage in or engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money or something of value. Second, a person could offer, agree to engage in, or engage in sexual activity based on receipt of a payment which has already been made. In the first scenario, a person can be convicted even if no money was ever actually exchanged.
A conviction for prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor and could lead to a fine of $2000 and a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. There is no minimum penalty for a conviction, so a Houston prostitution attorney could work towards helping a convicted individual avoid jail time and lessen fines.
The penalties for prostitution become increasingly severe with additional convictions. The second and third time a person is convicted, the crime is generally treated as a Class A Misdemeanor. This offense carries a one-year maximum jail sentence and a fine of up to $4000.
The fourth time a person is convicted of prostitution, the offense becomes a felony punishable by up to two years of imprisonment in state jail and a $10,000 fine.
Defenses to Prostitution
There are two affirmative defenses to a charge of prostitution under state laws. An affirmative defense is one in which a defendant admits to committing a crime but presents facts about the circumstance that lessen the severity of the situation. These facts may allow the defendant to receive an acquittal from the court.
The first affirmative defense is to prove to the court that the defendant was a victim of human trafficking at the time the offense was committed. If the defendant can prove evidence of this, the court will likely not return a guilty verdict even though the defendant did, in fact, commit the elements required for a conviction.
The second affirmative defense is to argue that the defendant was coerced into prostitution through force, the threat of force, or induced by fraud. If the defendant and their attorney can demonstrate these facts, the court will likely not convict a defendant of prostitution.
Depending on the case, a Houston prostitution attorney may be able to show that the charged individual was a victim of such coercion and work seek a dismissal of a prostitution charge.
Reach Out to a Houston Prostitution Attorney Today
If you were charged with prostitution, it may be in your best interest to contact a Houston prostitution lawyer right away. A lawyer could discuss your case with you, assess the facts, and present a case in court that leads to a favorable outcome for your circumstances.
A Houston lawyer could help by raising an affirmative defense, employing various legal strategies, and negotiating a plea agreement with the court to minimize the consequences on your life. Call today for a free consultation.