Prostitution, or the exchange of sexual favors for money, is illegal in nearly every state, including DC. Law enforcement officials aggressively seek arrests for these acts in an attempt to “crack down on crime” and appeal to a sense of moral justice in the community. If you have been charged with prostitution in DC, you probably fear the devastating effects on your personal life as much as the legal consequences of your action.
A skilled DC prostitution lawyer can help. With the legal knowledge and the resources to fight your charge, an experienced defense attorney can closely evaluate your case to build the best possible defense and mitigate any legal or personal ramifications the prostitution charge may carry. Here is more information on DC Prostitution Laws. En Español.
Prostitution Free Zones
To combat prostitution, the Metropolitan Police Department enforces anti-loitering laws in “Prostitution Free Zones” for defined periods of time in areas that have disproportionately high numbers of arrests for prostitution-related offenses. These zones have been established to protect the health and safety of residents in areas with high rates of prostitution-related crimes. While a Prostitution Free Zone is in effect, it is unlawful for “a group of two or more persons to congregate on public space within that area for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related offenses.”
A police officer will first issue a warning to anyone in violation of the law explaining that they are in a Prostitution Free Zone and ordering them to disperse. Ignoring or disobeying the officer’s directive could lead to immediate arrest. Convicted offenders can be punished by a fine of up to $300, imprisonment for up to 180 days, or both.
Understanding the Crime of Prostitution
Generally, people think of prostitution as the performing of sexual favors in return for money. However, in DC, prostitution is defined as sexual contact with another person in exchange for the giving or receiving of a fee. Because of this, both a prostitute and their solicitor could be charged with prostitution in DC, as articulated under Section 22-2701 of the DC Code. The offense encompasses both sides of prostitution-related activities and counts both the person soliciting the sexual favors and the person providing the favors as guilty of the same charge.
The penalties for a prostitution conviction in DC are severe and can have long-term impacts on someone’s personal and professional life. Prostitution is considered a misdemeanor and a first offense can carry penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A second offense is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. There is also a social stigma attached to people who have been convicted of crimes that involve exchanging sexual favors for money. If a person is convicted of prostitution, it may limit their job prospects and cause strife in their personal relationships.
Given the seriousness of a charge for prostitution, if someone has been charged with prostitution or they believe they are under investigation for prostitution-related crimes, they would be best served to contact a skilled DC prostitution lawyer to begin crafting a successful defense strategy.
How A Prostitution Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with prostitution or solicitation in DC, you may feel trapped, frightened, and alone. However, experienced attorneys know that there are several options for your defense. If you were arrested as a result of a sting operation, police procedures could lead to an entrapment defense.
As well, an attorney may advise you that, in light of the case against you and the devastating impact these charges could have on your personal life and career, your best option may be to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to participate in a prostitution diversion program in exchange for the dismissal of your charges.