By Peter Elikann
The law states that in order to be charged with “engaging in sexual conduct for a fee” can be either: (1) engaging; (2) agreeing to engage; or (3) offering to engage in sexual conduct with another person for a fee. It is not necessary that any sexual conduct does, in fact, occur. There simply must be an offer or agreement to engage in this sexual conduct.
There are two necessary requirements that must be met in order for someone to be charged with a prostitution-related offense. First, that there must be an agreement or offer to engage in a sexual act or the sexual act is actually conducted. Secondly, there must be some kind of a fee offered, agreed to or actually paid. If there is no form of payment involved then it still might be possible to be charged with some other sex offense, but it would not be any form of prostitution since prostitution is essentially sex for a fee. The fee need not necessarily be for actual money. An exchange for another good or service can count as a fee which could include such things as drugs for sex.
In the past, if the police intervened in such acts, the customer often went scot-free while the prostitute, or payee so to speak, was the one who was arrested and faced the penalties. Formerly, the payor (commonly referred to as a “john”), most often a male, might be told by the police to just leave as the handcuffs were put on the person receiving or hoping to receive the fee But that is no longer the trend as the law now views both parties as equally engaged in this activity so therefore they must be treated equally under law. The courts now look at the old practice as unfair and inequitable that only one of the two must face the consequences and penalties while no more responsible than the other.
There are numerous crimes related to prostitution including:
- Sexual conduct for a fee (prostitute): Where the person agrees to receive the fee, this is a misdemeanor where, if convicted, one faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
- Sexual conduct for a fee (customer of prostitute):
- Sexual conduct for a fee with a child under the age of 18:
- Soliciting for a prostitute (or receiving compensation for soliciting for a prostitute:
- Enticing a person for prostitution:
- Support from or sharing earnings of a prostitute:
- Inducing a minor into prostitution:
- Living off of or sharing earnings of a minor prostitute:
- Procuring a person to practice prostitution or enter a house of prostitution:
- Keeper of a house of ill fame
- Detaining or drugging to detain a person for prostitution:
Additionally, there has been a much greater effort to crack down on human trafficking. Law enforcement has been making greater efforts in Massachusetts to investigate massage parlors, chat rooms, ads and online solicitations. A common method is for the police in a sting operation to put an ad for massages in a publication or online such as Craigslist. Then, when a customer shows up at the location, they engage in a conversation with an undercover officer until there is an agreement to pay a certain amount of money for sex. Once the agreement is made, the prospective customer is arrested on the spot. Or the agreement to have sex for a fee is done through back and forth text messages or emails with the agreement documented in writing prior to the customer showing up and getting arrested.
There are numerous defenses to prostitution charges. Just several of these defenses are:
- It is not enough for two people to agree to have sex. The police must have proof that there was a fee transaction involved. This is frequently difficult for the police to prove and therefore the case can be dismissed. A fee must be passed between the two people or a verbal deal to pay was made.
- One can’t be charged with a prostitution-related offense if they have been entrapped by law enforcement. If they are approached and an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a prostitute repeatedly tries to convince them to agree to sex for a fee when they originally had no interest, that would be insufficient under the law and an entrapment defense could be used.
- One can’t be charged with the general status of being a prostitute either walking down the street or in a chatroom. Again, a specific instance or paying sex for a fee must be proved. It is not a person’s status that can be charged; it is only their criminal act that can be charged.
Sexual conduct for a fee (prostitute):
Sexual conduct for a fee (customer of prostitute):
Sexual conduct for a fee with a child under the age of 18: Where the person pays, agrees to pay, or offers to pay a minor under the age of 18, this is a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison or two and one half years in jail; and a fine of no less than $3,000 or no more than $10,000.
Soliciting for a prostitute (or receiving compensation for soliciting for a prostitute: This carries a potential maximum sentence of two and one half years in jail, a fine of no less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 or both the fin and incarceration
Enticing a person for prostitution: This felony carries a maximum penalty of three years in state prison or one year in jail or a fine of $1,000 or both a period of incarceration and a fine.
Support from or sharing earnings of a prostitute: This felony shall be punished by a period of incarceration in state prison of 5 years ( of which, at least, 2 years must be served) and a $5,000 fine.
Inducing a minor into prostitution: This felony carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in state prison with a maximum sentence of five years and a $5,000 fine.
Living off of or sharing earnings of a minor prostitute: This felony carries a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than five years and a $5,000 fine.
Procuring a person to practice prostitution or enter a house of prostitution: This charge carries with it a mandatory sentence of three months and a possible maximum sentence of two years in jail along with a fine of between $100 and $500
Keeper of a house of ill fame: Those convicted of this misdemeanor can face a potential sentence of up to two years in jail.
Detaining or drugging to detain a person for prostitution: This felony carries with it a sentence of up to five years in state prison or between one to two and one half years in jail and a fine between $100 and $500.
Have you been charged with any offense related to prostitution or are you under investigation for it? If so, contact us today for a free legal consult.