A Maryland man recently pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from an interstate prostitution ring that reportedly involved some 100 women who were transported to work in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and other surrounding states between 2009 and 2012.
Our D.C. criminal defense defense lawyers know that cases like this, whether charged federally or at the district or state level, are going to be serious because more often, they are viewed through the lens of human trafficking. That means that while the sex worker, frequently viewed now as a victim, will face less serious charges, if any at all, those who organize the operation could end up facing serious felonies.
In this case, the individual admitted to his role in recruiting foreign nationals for prostitution, promoting the operation through the distribution of business cards at various Spanish restaurants, construction sites and day labor operations, personally transporting the women to various locations for the purposes of engaging in sex work and collecting a substantial portion of the proceeds.
He faces up to five years in prison, though it is expected as a Mexican citizen, he will be deported following the completion of his sentence. It will be the third time he has been deported from the U.S.
In D.C., a boom of major construction projects downtown has resulted in an increase of prostitution arrests, according to Metro police. Investigators say that while most prostitution activity takes place between midnight and 5 a.m., a recent surge was being observed around 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., which correlates to the changes in construction workers' shifts.
Police said that while prostitution had been a major issue in D.C. back in the 1970s, it hadn't been since - until recently.
A sex worker who is charged with prostitution under D.C. criminal code will face up to three months in jail and a $500 fine for a first-time offense. Rarely will a person actually receive that much, especially if your attorney can prove you were a victim. Second-time offenders face up to 135 days in jail and a fine of up to $750. Third and subsequent offenders face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
There are many options for diversion programs for sex workers. Even though these are misdemeanor charges, it is wise to obtain the services of a skilled attorney, who can help to significantly reduce or eliminate your chances of jail time and hefty fines.
Those facing human trafficking charges, more commonly referred to as "pimps," are often facing felony charges. They may be granted a public defender to their case, but seeking out an attorney with specific experience in handling these types of cases is critical. This is particularly true if any of the sex workers whose services you allegedly sold were under the age of 18. In cases such as that, under D.C. Criminal Code 22-2704, you would be facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000.