Defense Against Solicitation of Prostitution Charges

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According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ most recent arrest report, law enforcement arrested 47,598 Americans for prostitution charges in 2014. Sadly, most people experience terrible consequences when prosecutors charge them for alleged prostitution crimes. In Maine, these stigmatizing charges can ruin reputations and destroy professional careers. The police can arrest and imprison prostitutes and their clientele. Some employers will fire their workers after they learn about these charges. Additionally, convicted people can serve time extended prison or pay stiff fines or penalties.

We understand it’s frightening to face prostitution-related charges. Most prosecutors don’t want to hear your side of the story. Instead, they want to build a strong case to convict you.

When facing prostitution-related charges, you need an experienced attorney. Don’t jeopardize your future by talking to law enforcement. Instead, hire The Law Office of Richard Berne to fight for you. We’ll mount a defense strategy to defend your rights in court.  Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys or call us at 207-871-7770.

Prostitution is a Crime in Maine

In Maine, it’s illegal for people to promote, buy, or sell sexual acts and related conduct.  The state’s criminal code Title 17-A, Chapter 35 prohibits sex trafficking, prostitution, and public indecency. The state defines prostitution as “engaging in, or agreeing to engage in, or offering to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact” in return for money or a pecuniary benefit. The prostitute or a third party receives the payment. “Engaging in Prostitution” is the official term for this criminal offense under Maine’s laws.

The state defines sexual acts as:

  • These incidents involve direct genital contact between one person and the mouth, anus, or genitals of another person.
  • They are situations that involve direct genital sexual contact between one person and the mouth, anus, or genitals of an animal.
  • These acts involve a person using an instrument to manipulate the genitals or anus of one person.

Maine defines sexual contact as intentional touching of the genitals or anus for these purposes:

  • Sexual arousal
  • Sexual gratification
  • Causing bodily injury, or
  • Offensive physical contact.

This behavior relates to sexual activities. It includes kissing or forced touching (through clothes or directly). Law enforcement can charge someone with sexual acts (or contact) without allegations or proof that penetration took place.

Convicted prostitutes nay be charged with a Class E misdemeanor. Prostitutes with prior convictions may be charged with a Class D misdemeanor.

The Criminal Offense of Engaging a Prostitute

Maine prosecutors may charge a prostitute’s alleged clientele with “engaging a prostitute.” These customers, or johns, solicit sex workers’ services in exchange for monetary benefits. They don’t need to have actual sexual contact to face charges. In Maine, agreeing to pay for sex is still a crime under the law.

According to Maine’s Criminal Code Section 853-B, convicted persons can receive a Class E misdemeanor if found guilty. Offenders can spend six months in jail or pay a $1,000 fine. District attorneys can charge persons with Class D misdemeanors if they have prior convictions for similar crimes. Judges can sentence repeated offenders to one year in prison. Violators must also pay a $2,000 fine.

Soliciting Prostitution from Younger or Disabled Persons

Maine imposes increased penalties or soliciting prostitution from minors and from mentally disabled persons.

  • Offenders can receive Class D offenses if they solicit prostitution from someone younger than 18 years old.
  • Prosecutors can charge defendants with Class C crimes if they knowingly solicit sex from a prostitute that is less than 18 years old. They can spend five years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.
  • Violators can receive a Class C Offense if they solicit prostitution from a person that has a mental disability that the offender knows about. This mental impairment prevents the person from evaluating the nature of the conduct.

Promotion of Prostitution and Aggravated Charges

Under Maine’s Sex Trafficking and Aggravated Sex Trafficking Law, the promotion of prostitution is a criminal offense. The most serious offenses are the “promotion of prostitution” and “aggravated prostitution and prohibit the following conduct:

  1. Causing or soliciting another person to commit or engage in prostitution, other than as a customer. publicly solicit customers for prostitution;
  2. Providing other persons for the purpose of prostitution;
  3. Leasing or permitting a place controlled by the offender, or in association with others, or use for prostitution;
  4. Owning, controlling, managing, supervising, or operating, in association with others, a prostitution house or business;
  5. Transport others for the purpose of prostitution;
  6.  Accepting or agreeing with a third person (other than the customer) to engage a prostitute in exchange for monetary benefits.

District attorneys can charge offenders with a Class D misdemeanor. Convicted persons can spend almost a year in jail and pay $2,000 in fines. Prosecutors can charge persons with “Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution” if they compel people under 18 to engage in sexual acts for money. This crime is a Class B felony carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Courts may require offenders to submit their information to a national registry as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Offender Act (SORNA).

Defenses to Prostitution Charges

A good lawyer can present several affirmative defenses for criminal charges of prostitution. They include:

  • Entrapment – This defense is the most common ones that attorneys use. Generally, law enforcement officers represent themselves as agents or pimps of sex workers. They trap law-abiding defendants by encouraging them to engage in prostitution.
  • Insufficient evidence – Lawyers use this defense when the prosecution hasn’t provided enough evidence that prostitution-related crimes took place. The proof they produce is inadequate to convict a person for prostitution-related offenses.
  • Lack of trustworthy evidence – The defendant’s attorney argues there is no recorded agreement to engage in prostitution.
  • Legal impossibility – An attorney can show the alleged acts would not constitute a crime. Lawyers generally use this defense when the defendant’s sexual conversations occur through electronic media. For example, attorneys raise this argument when an undercover agent poses as a fictitious minor offering a sex act.
  • Mistake – If a person didn’t intend to engage in a sex act, they may not get convicted for prostitution.

Hire a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights in Court

Has a law enforcement charged you with alleged prostitution-related crimes? Don’t allow an aggressive prosecution to railroad you. Hire a legal team that will defend your rights in court. The Law Office of Richard Berne has criminal defense attorneys that are passionate about defending the rights of the accused. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or call our office at 207-871-7770.