Is Soliciting Prostitution a State Felony in Texas?
On September 1, 2021, Texas became the first state to make the solicitation of prostitution a felony. The consequences of an arrest or a false accusation are more than shock and embarrassment. Anyone convicted of this crime could end up serving time in a Texas state jail.
How Texas Law Defines ‘Soliciting Prostitution’
According to § 43.021 of the Texas Penal Code, “A person commits an offense if the person knowingly offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another.” There are a couple of important things to note about this new law.
- First, sexual conduct doesn’t even have to take place for the law to be broken. In fact, the two parties don’t even have to meet face-to-face. A person breaks the law just by “knowingly” offering or agreeing to pay someone a fee in exchange for sex. That offer or agreement could be stated verbally, or in a text or email.
- Secondly, a “fee” is not limited to cash. Pursuant to § 43.01, a fee could also be any “goods, services, or other benefit.”
- And lastly, “sexual conduct” includes activities other than penetrative intercourse. The way that § 43.01 is written, sexual conduct also includes sexual contact such as “any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”
At the heart of this law and its new, stricter penalties is a noble goal: to reduce sex trafficking by cutting off the demand for prostitution. Felony charges mean that much more is at stake for anyone accused of solicitation. As a result, individuals could find themselves falsely accused of solicitation, the victim of a set-up or someone else’s revenge tactics.
Penalties for Soliciting Prostitution in Texas
Prior to September 1, 2021, solicitation of prostitution was a misdemeanor charge. The law changed to make it a state felony charge. According to § 12.35, a conviction for a state felony can mean “confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or less than 180 days” and a fine of up to $10,000.
For the average person, jail time and a hefty fine is enough to bring financial ruin, not to mention the emotional toll that incarceration takes on an individual and their family.
Repeat Offenders in Texas
Individuals who already have certain convictions may face enhanced charges of felony of the third degree. As stated in § 12.34, the penalties are “imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years” and a fine of up to $10,000.
Solicitation of Prostitution of a Minor in Texas
Section 43.021 sets forth harsher penalties if the person who is solicited is:
- “younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person at the time of the offense;”
- “represented to the actor as being younger than 18 years of age; or”
- “believed by the actor to be younger than 18 years of age.”
As you can see, not knowing someone’s real age or being lied to about someone’s real age is not an affirmative defense.
The solicitation of prostitution of a minor is a second degree felony. According to § 12.33, the penalties are “imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years” and a fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Sex Offender Registration
Under certain circumstances, a solicitation of prostitution conviction could mean being listed on the Texas Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders who have to register with the state experience an inherent loss of privacy. This public website includes an offender’s full name, details of their conviction, home address, and any post-secondary institutions they attend.
Plano Solicitation of Prostitution Attorney
Sex trafficking is a hot button issue and Texas is paving the way for the rest of the country. The trend is moving towards harsh punishments for solicitors (so-called “Johns”) and away from punishing the individuals who are being solicited. With the new law in place, police and the public-at-large may be hyper vigilant. There is no doubt that individuals who did not commit a crime will be investigated. You don’t have to wait for an arrest to speak with an attorney. The minute that you suspect that you are under investigation or could be the target of false charges, contact Starr Law P.C.
If you’ve been arrested for solicitation of prostitution in Texas, you don’t need a plea bargain. What you need is the best possible outcome for your case, which could be an acquittal, a dismissal, or a “not guilty” verdict. That can only happen if the attorney who represents you is aggressive, dedicated, and willing to fight for you—an attorney like Kent Starr.
Attorney Starr works with clients who face the toughest sex crime charges in the state, like solicitation of prostitution, child molestation, and child pornography. When Mr. Starr represents clients charged with a sex crime, he is keenly aware that he is fighting for that person’s life. A felony sex crime conviction can strip away your right to:
- Maintain a relationship with your children and other young family members
- Stay employed in your chosen field
- Keep professional licenses and certifications
- Choose where you want to live
- Remain living in the U.S., if you are not a citizen. For anyone who is not a citizen of the United States, a conviction and/or a plea to a prostitution charge could have severe consequences and lead to denial of residence or removal/deportation from the United States.
At your free consultation, Attorney Starr will go over the case results for his clients who have faced the same charges. Case outcomes are a matter of public record and Mr. Starr is more than happy to share this information with you.
And in addition to being an experienced criminal defense attorney, Mr. Starr is also a bail bondsman. One phone call will get you out of jail, start your legal representation, and save you time and money. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
What Happens If You End Up on the Sex Offenders List in Texas?
Why Hire Criminal Defense Attorney Kent Starr? (YouTube Video)
Texas Penal Code, Chapter 43. Public Indecency and Chapter 12. Punishments