A prostitution sting is an undercover operation that involves police officers posing as sex workers to gather sufficient evidence for making an arrest. While these law enforcement tactics are often successful, they don’t always lead to a charge. Multiple nuances surrounding the prostitution sting setup could serve as the basis for violating the rights of the people involved.
If you’ve been arrested during a prostitution sting operation, you can benefit from working with an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can help protect your rights and avoid unfair punishment.
Understanding what a prostitution sting involves can help you make educated decisions about your legal situation.
What Is a Prostitution Sting?
A prostitution sting operation is a law enforcement tactic that arrests people involved in the act of prostitution. The primary objective of a prostitution sting is to deter and combat the illegal activity of prostitution.
During a sting operation, law enforcement officers may use various techniques to catch a person in the act of paying someone (or providing some other compensation) in exchange for a sexual act.
These techniques can involve posing as sex workers, using informants, setting up video surveillance, leveraging audio recording devices, and much more. Both the sex worker and the solicitor are breaking the law when engaging in the act of prostitution. However, they usually aim prostitution stings at arresting the latter.
Even if the sexual act doesn’t happen during the sting, you can still be charged with solicitation of prostitution.
Texas Solicitation of Prostitution
Solicitation is persuading a person to participate in committing an illegal act. Solicitation of prostitution means inducing another person to engage in sexual activity and providing compensation for it.
In the past, solicitation of prostitution was a misdemeanor in Texas. On September 1, 2021, it became a felony.
According to Texas Penal Code §43.021, they can charge you with solicitation of prostitution, if you knowingly offer or agree to pay someone a fee to engage in sexual behavior with another person. It means that even if you don’t pay directly to the person you plan to engage in sexual behavior with, you can still be charged.
If they charge you with solicitation of prostitution for the first time, it’s a state jail felony. If convicted, you can face at least 180 days but not more than two years in jail. In addition, you may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
If you’ve been convicted of solicitation of prostitution before, the charge turns into a third-degree felony. The punishment is between 2 and 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If the person you are persuading to commit an illegal act of prostitution is younger than 18 years of age, the charge becomes a second-degree felony. The punishment is between 2 and 20 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The person doesn’t always have to be younger than 18 for you to be charged with a second-degree felony. If you believe the person was a minor, the prosecution can still raise the charge.
Rights Violations During a Prostitution Sting
Prostitution stings are complex operations that involve multiple opportunities for violating the rights of the participants. In the courtroom, these violations turn into defense strategies.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Law enforcement officers must have a proper legal basis, such as probable cause, to search you. If they don’t have enough evidence, they could be violating your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
If law enforcement officers engage in conduct that induces you into committing a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise committed, your attorney could argue that it was an entrapment.
Entrapment violates a person’s due process rights by encouraging them to engage in illegal activity. For example, if the undercover officers came up to you and offered sex in exchange for money, it’s a basis for the entrapment defense.
Every person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and law enforcement officers must respect this expectation. Covert surveillance methods, such as hidden cameras or audio recording devices, may infringe on your privacy rights if conducted in an area where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Lack of Evidence
Even if none of your rights were violated during the prostitution sting, your attorney may be able to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you. This may involve questioning the reliability of witness statements, surveillance methods, or other forms of evidence collected during a sting.
What to Do if You Are Arrested During a Prostitution Sting
Being arrested for solicitation of prostitution during a prostitution sting doesn’t automatically mean you are guilty. In many cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can come up with arguments that convince the prosecution to drop the charges. Even if the case proceeds to court, the attorney can gather evidence and build a strong defense to make sure that your rights are protected.
If you didn’t speak to an attorney right after being arrested, do it as soon as you can. The longer you remain without legal representation, the easier it is to make mistakes that affect the integrity of your potential defense strategy.
Once a qualified attorney takes over your case, you can follow their advice and take the necessary action to prevent unfortunate consequences.
Prostitution Sting Defense Attorney in Texas
If you were arrested during a prostitution sting, you may be facing a jail sentence. Since solicitation of prostitution is a felony in Texas, the consequences of a conviction are serious.
At Starr Law, we have a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys. They know all about the prostitution sting operations and ways your rights can be violated in the process. We firmly believe in fighting for a fair outcome in every case.
To schedule a free consultation, please contact us at any time.