With the rise of digital communications, it has become more difficult for police departments and prosecutors to obtain convictions for prostitution under traditional criminal codes. To counteract this, Texas passed a new statute in 2015 broadening the definition of this crime. Penalties range from misdemeanor offenses to felonies, depending on the facts of the case and any prior convictions.
Odessa prostitution lawyers represent clients in criminal court who have been accused of prostitution to defend both their freedom and reputation. Speak with an experienced Odessa defense attorney who can represent you and your rights.
Prostitution Laws in Texas
In order to be found guilty of prostitution, it must be proven that an individual did so knowingly, in exchange for a fee or offered to engage in sexual conduct. The statute continues to state that a person is guilty of prostitution, regardless of whether the actor is offered or actually receives the fee. There are several key concepts within the statute.
The accused person must actually know that they are exchanging a fee for sex. This is known as the criminal mindset, or mens rea, of the defendant. One common defense against this element of the crime is that a person thought that the sex was freely participated in, and not part of a business transaction. This defense may also apply to the second element, as the exchange or offer of a fee is required. This fee does not need to be money but may be any type of tangible property.
It is not a defense to say that the sex never occurred. Odessa prostitution lawyers have seen many arrests made for prostitution occur before the transaction is completed. The mere attempt to engage in prostitution may be sufficient for a conviction if the district attorney can present enough evidence. However, it is explicitly stated in the statute that a defense to a prostitution charge is that a person was forced into the act through threats or intimidation.
Possible Penalties for a Prostitution Conviction
The potential penalties for prostitution include a first conviction is a Class B misdemeanor. If the person has one or two prior convictions for prostitution, the charges become a Class A misdemeanor. For third and all subsequent convictions, the offense is considered a state jail felony. Individuals should speak with a Odessa prostitution lawyer regarding their defense options.
For a Class B misdemeanor, a guilty finding may result in up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000.00, or both. Class A misdemeanors increase the maximum jail term to one year and the maximum fine to $4,000.00. The same portion of the penal code governs penalties for state jail felonies. These are so named because they carry a minimum jail term of 180 days with a maximum of two years. Additionally, a fine of up to $10,000.00 may be imposed.
Hiring an Odessa Prostitution Attorney
If you have been charged with prostitution in Texas, our Odessa attorneys are here to help. Regardless of whether this is a first offense or a tenth, a conviction carries the possibility of a jail term and a mark on a criminal record. This criminal record can negatively affect a person’s job prospects and housing options.
Take a positive step to protect your future and contact local prostitution attorneys today. Odessa prostitution lawyers will listen to your side of the story, examine all of the prosecutor’s evidence and form a defense tailored to your specific situation. From initial arraignment and bail hearings to evidentiary motions and trial arguments, an attorney can be at your side every step of the way. It may be vital to hire an attorney with knowledge of the law and the dedication needed to defend your rights.