Changes to Florida’s Prostitution Laws: Solicitation

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on February 5, 2016

Under Florida law, prostitution charges can come with heavy punishment. Florida statute 796.07defines prostitution as “giving or receiving the body for sexual activity for hire” and includes both sex workers and their clients. Until recently, both those soliciting and those providing sexual services were punished equally under the law. In an attempt to combat human trafficking, Florida lawmakers recently increased penalties for those soliciting sexual services.

In October, Florida lawmakers enacted tougher penalties for solicitation of prostitution. HB 465 passed the Florida House of Representatives unanimously. These new laws amend statute 796.07, focusing on individuals soliciting (attempting to hire) a sex worker. HB 465 increases a first-time solicitation offense from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor. To illustrate what exactly that means, a second-degree misdemeanor can carry a minimum of 60 days in jail while a first-degree misdemeanor can carry jail time of one year. A second offense is now considered a third-degree felony and can carry five years in prison. A third offense is a second-degree felony and can carry up to 15 years in prison. If convicted, HB 465 also places mandatory minimum sentences on defendants. A second or subsequent violation of the laws carries a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. Additionally, first time offenders must attend an education program focusing on the negative aspects of prostitution and human trafficking as well as undergo 100 hours of community service. If a vehicle is used in the solicitation, the judge can impound the vehicle for 60 days.

In addition to these harsher penalties, under Florida law, anyone convicted of a crime under 796.07 is required by statute 796.08 to undergo testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. If an individual tests positive for an STI, they must undergo treatment before they can be released from jail or probation. This is a substantial violation of individual privacy rights.

If you have been charged with solicitation, you need the help of an experienced defense lawyer. You are at the risk of serving jail time and having your privacy rights encroached upon. However, there are ways to be defended in court. The goal of the defense is to illustrate that the prosecution cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. One way to challenge the prosecution is by maintaining that sexual engagement is consensual between adults and uncompensated. Another way is to maintain that entrapment by law enforcement lead to the charges. It is imperative to get an attorney who understands how to present these defenses in court.

If You Need Help

Mark S. Lowry is a dedicated and experienced defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. As a former prosecutor, he knows what is needed to convict you of a crime and he knows how to defend you against it. With 10 years of experience and over 60 tried cases, Mark S. Lowry has the experience and knowledge you need in your defense. Mark S. Lowry is committed to defending your rights. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.