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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
When people consider the idea of paying for sex, they often consider the person offering the sexual act. However, the Texas Penal Code takes steps to punish the people paying, often times in harsher ways than the seller. Depending on the identity of the seller and the buyer’s mindset at the time of the transaction, a conviction can result in serious jail time and major fines.
Odessa solicitation lawyers represent people who have been accused of solicitation in Texas’ criminal court to defend their freedoms and reputations. If you are facing solicitation charges, contact a distinguished defense attorney who can help you prepare your defense before trial.
Solicitation Laws in Texas
Unlike in many jurisdictions, there is no law titled “solicitation” in the Texas Penal Code. Rather, it is a subsection of the statute for prostitution. People who have been accused of actions that would normally be considered solicitation will be charged with prostitution. It is important for an individual facing prosecution to contact an Odessa solicitation lawyer who can help them preserve their rights.
Texas Penal Code defines prostitution/solicitation as:
- A person knowingly meets a person in a public place with the intent to hire the person for a sexual act
- A person knowingly offers to pay or does actually pay, another person to perform a sexual act
Possible Penalties for Solicitation
A first offense under solicitation/prostitution will be classified as a class B Misdemeanor. However, a second or third offense upgrades to a class A misdemeanor. A fourth or later conviction is a state jail felony. If the person solicited is under 18 years of age, regardless of the solicitor’s knowledge of this fact, the crime is treated as a class B Felony.
Class B Felonies require a minimum prison term of two years, with a maximum of 20 years. A fine of up to $10,000 is possible. State jail felonies have a minimum jail term of 180 days and a fine of up to $10,000.
Odessa solicitation lawyers have seen a guilty finding may result in up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both for a class B misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors increase the maximum jail term to one year and the maximum fine to $4,000.
Someone can be convicted under the solicitation portion of the prostitution statute if they pay someone to engage in sexual conduct, or merely offer a fee for a person to engage in sexual conduct. One key thing to remember here is the concept of criminal mindset or mens rea. This statute requires that the actor actually know that they were attempting to exchange a fee for a sexual act.
It is a defense that the alleged purchaser thought that the meeting between the two people was for a free exchange of sex. However, it is an offense regardless of whether the buyer actually offers or pays the fee, as long as they intended to do so. An attempt is enough for a conviction.
Help from a Lawyer
People who are accused of solicitation are often surprised to find that the criminal complaint issued lists prostitution as the charge. Despite this possible confusion, people accused of prostitution face long jail terms and stiff fines. Even if the charge is minor enough that a conviction does not result in a jail sentence, the conviction will remain on that person’s criminal record. This can have a negative effect on a person’s future housing and work prospects. Odessa solicitation lawyers represent individuals in every step of their case, from arraignments and bail hearings to evidentiary motions and trials. Whether your goal is to seek a fair plea deal or to fight the charges to the end, they can work with you towards a positive outcome.