It is illegal in Texas to sell or buy sex. What some people think is a “victimless” crime is, remarkably, being punished more harshly than ever in the Longhorn State.
Getting arrested for solicitation of prostitution is easier than ever. The rise of the internet has connected buyers and sellers, and many people visit chat rooms to find partners willing to sell sex. At the same time, many people solicit prostitution the old-fashioned way—face to face on a street corner or in an alley.
Texas has one of the harshest solicitation laws in the state. If you were arrested, you need an experienced Galveston criminal defense attorney to assist you. There are defenses we can raise on your behalf, but you would benefit from hiring a lawyer promptly.
What is Solicitation?
Under Texas Penal Code section 43.021, a person commits solicitation if they knowingly offer someone a fee, or agree to pay a fee, for sex. Solicitation can happen in person, or it can happen online.
What are the Criminal Penalties for a Conviction?
Texas increased its criminal penalties recently. Now, even a first conviction for solicitation is a state jail felony, which can send a defendant behind bars for a maximum of 2 years, and a $10,000 fine. A second conviction is even worse. A defendant is facing third-degree felony charges, 2-10 years in prison, and a fine.
In some situations, solicitation might be a second-degree felony if you solicit a minor or think you are:
- The person solicited is under 18, regardless of whether the defendant knows the age.
- The person solicited represented they were under 18.
- The defendant believed the prostitute was under 18.
How Do You Defend Against Solicitation Charges?
This is a serious offense. Solicitation used to be a Class A misdemeanor, but the state wants to crack down on those who buy sex. For this reason, we can’t expect the prosecutor to just offer a slap on the wrist. Instead, buckle up for a hard road ahead.
At Tad Nelson, our Galveston criminal defense attorney has argued:
- No offer or agreement. Words are open to interpretation. Maybe you were making small talk with an undercover agent posing as a prostitute. It’s not illegal to ask someone for sex. It’s only illegal to try and buy it.
- Mistaken identity. This is a popular defense if you were accused of soliciting prostitution online. Maybe someone else was using your computer and posing as you.
- No offer for sex. Maybe you truly wanted a massage or non-sexual activity. Again, so much rides on the precise words said.
- Reasonable doubt. The prosecutor needs solid proof of all elements of the crime. Memories often differ, and a lot of solicitation happens at night when people can’t see clearly.
What About Entrapment?
Many people are caught up in stings where undercover agents pose as prostitutes. Sometimes we can argue the police crossed the line and coerced you into trying to buy prostitution. Stings are time-consuming, and the cops don’t like laying a trap if no one takes the bait.
Call Us to Get Started
The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can review any solicitation charges pending against you and analyze which defenses make sense to raise. Contact us to start a free consultation.