Recently in Prostitution and Solicitation Category

October 14, 2013

D.C. Prostitution Sting Results in 60 Arrests, Police Say

In what is believed to be one of the largest stings of solicitation of prostitution in D.C., authorities rounded up 60 people on various criminal charges.
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Police targeted the downtown D.C. area with a range of tactics, including street-level pick-ups to internet and hotel operations that were located in the northwest quadrant of the city. Tips had been pouring in via 911 calls, through neighborhood list serve postings and at community meetings.

While it's rare that the agency has busts this sizable at any given time, Metro police have made the arrest of prostitution offenders a primary focus over the last six years. That's when the D.C. Council passed an ordinance that allows the agency to declare certain streets or even entire neighborhoods as "prostitution-free zones." What that means is that in these areas, law enforcement is granted the ability to make arrests based on a lower burden of proof than they might otherwise have had to face.

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April 11, 2013

D.C. Prostitution Ring Results in Federal Conviction, Possible Deportation

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.
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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.

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September 6, 2012

Fighting for Reduced or Vacated Prostitution Charges for Trafficking Victims

In a slow shift in their approach toward prostitution, prosecutors are more frequently focusing their efforts primarily on pimps and madams - rather than the prostitutes themselves. womansillouhette.jpg

In fact, Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers understand that seven states - New York, Nevada, Vermont, Washington State, Maryland, Illinois and Hawaii - all have legislation that not only refers to prostitutes as "sex trafficking victims," but under certain circumstances, allows their charges to be dropped and their convictions to be vacated.

These laws include minors in particular, but not always.

Trafficking is defined as the use of force or threat of force or some type of coercion or fraud in order to sell any person for the use of commercial sex OR to cause a person under the age of 18 to engage in a sex act in exchange for money.

A recent article in the New York Times detailed how this approach was working in New York. There, prosecutors were choosing not to go after prostitutes, but rather those who profited from the sale of their bodies. Under old laws, pimps usually faced up to 15 years in prison. Now, updated laws carry a max sentence of up to 25 years. Plus, customers who pay for adult prostitutes used to face up to three months in jail. Now, they face up to a year.

While there is a similar federal law passed in 2000 that increased trafficking penalties, federal prosecutors typically don't have jurisdiction unless a person has been trafficked across state borders.

Right now in Washington, D.C., prostitutes are still arrested regularly. Sex trafficking leaves not only life-long emotional scars upon a victim, but it can also affect his or her future if that arrest or conviction remains on their record.

D.C. Criminal code 22-2701 lays forth that a prostitution arrest can result in up to 90 days in jail. Second or subsequent offenses may include increased jail time and harsh fines.

This is why it's important to have an experienced attorney represent you - one who understands that being victimized by human trafficking is not your fault.

Although D.C. prosecutors don't formally recognize trafficking as a defense to prosecution, if your defense attorney can prove that you were in fact a victim, you may be allowed to plead to some lesser offense or have the charges dropped in exchange for admission to a diversion program.

One of those is called Angels Project Power Program. It is operated by a former prostitute. She was raped and nearly killed in 1987 while working the downtown streets. She works to help prostitutes and trafficking victims learn life skills to help them heal and re-establish themselves in society.

Another resource to aid trafficking victims is the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, which was founded in 2004. It works to identify victims of sex trafficking and to provide extensive services to these individuals.

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March 9, 2012

Fight withTransgender Prostitute leaves D.C. Cop Facing Criminal Charges

An off-duty police officer has been indicted on a slew of Washington D.C. assault and weapons charges, following an altercation during the officer's alleged attempt to hire transgender prostitutes. He is also facing two counts of solicitation of prostitution.

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As our Washington D.C. criminal defense attorney understands it, the officer is being made to answer to nine charges in all, which could amount to more than 30 years behind bars if he's convicted.

The details, according to the Washington Post, are somewhat sketch, but here's what we know so far:

The 48-year-old Washington D.C. Metropolitan police officer was reportedly outside a local drug store on First Street around 5:30 a.m. There, he was allegedly attempting to hire two transgendered prostitutes by the name of "Kayla" and "Chloe." While talking with one of the individuals, another person approached and began arguing with him.

That's when a security guard working at the drug store asked all of them to leave. The officer then reached for his handgun, which was in the glove box of his Cadillac. He brandished it to the individuals standing there before getting in his vehicle and driving away.

The two prostitutes then met up with other individuals and left the store in another car. Then in an odd development, the car driven by the officer collided with the car containing the prostitutes.

That's when investigators said the officer dove on top of the hood of the other car and began firing his gun into the windshield. Bullets were said to have struck one of the passengers in the arm and hand. At the time, witnesses said the officer was shouting that he would kill all of them.

He was later arrested on the scene.

This all may seem somewhat straightforward, given the fact that several witnesses are attesting to the facts in the case. However, there is some additional background information that could play in the defense's favor.

First, any potential jury is going to have to weigh the credibility of a veteran officer against statements made by known prostitutes.

Secondly, the officer's attorney has been quoted by media as saying the officer was defending himself. He hasn't expounded on that, but it will be interesting to see what approach is taken.

And finally, the officer had been on sick leave at the time of the incident. His defense attorney may need to parse out more details about the nature of that illness and whether it may have played a role in the events as they unfolded.

Prosecutors say the officer had a pattern of reckless behavior, and had been fired from the force 8 years ago for drunk driving. But that decision was later reversed and the officer was allowed to attend a diversion program before returning to work.

At the time of this most recent incident, the officer was said to have been intoxicated.

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January 27, 2012

Proposed Washington D.C. "Prostitution-Free Zone" Isn't Going to Fly

Activists are protesting, officials believe it is unconstitutional and Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers fully believe that the proposed "prostitution-free zones" will be struck down because they are far too broad and will open up the District to many legal challenges.

The controversial bill that would allow local police officers to set up what they deem prostitution-free zones was recently heard by council members. It would give police the power to detain and arrest people they suspect are engaged in street prostitution.
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This bill is being proposed in response to the rise of prostitution arrests in Washington D.C. WTOP reported last fall. While arrest numbers are down, prostitution isn't.

But how could this law possibly be legal? First of all, it would give police the power to detain and arrest people with little proof that a crime was committed. If you are walking down the street in the wrong part of town or have a conversation with someone in the early hours of the morning, all of a sudden you're considered a John. What happens if you are a woman walking down the street late at night? Does that automatically make you a prostitute if you're in one of these "zones?"

Gay activists said they are planning to fight the bill, saying that it allows police to target some sectors of the community, but that takes away from the real crime that is going on throughout the District, WAMU is reporting.

On the other hand, The Washington Post reports that the D.C. Attorney General's Office recently said that the proposed bill is likely unconstitutional, which raises doubts that the council will be able to act on this proposal anyway.

In these zones, police can make arrests for up to 24 consecutive days if two or more people congregate in certain neighborhoods and ignore orders to disperse. That means that anyone hanging out, playing basketball, talking, or otherwise socializing can be arrested under these overly broad rules.

Based on the backlash, some believe that making these temporary zones permanent or expanding them is unlikely. People have a right to loiter so long as they are not intending to commit a crime.

Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers are hopeful that council members come to their senses and recognize the problems that this law makes for its residents. Combating prostitution is a novel idea, but doing so by trampling on individual rights isn't going to happen.

Being charged with soliciting for sex or being a prostitute can bring great shame to a person and their family. Not only that, it can result in up to 90 days in jail and $500 in fines for a first-time offender. Minimizing the embarrassment of an arrest, which can include work and family problems, is often a top priority. A lawyer can work toward a quick and less-damaging resolution if the defendant acts quickly.

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December 17, 2011

D.C. Politician Charged With Soliciting a Prostitute

A Democrat running for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat formerly held by his father was recently charged with soliciting a prostitute, which his campaign manager says is a bogus charge, The Washington Post reports.

Kevin B. Chavous intends to fight the charges, The Post reports. A police report states he offered an undercover officer money in exchange for sex.
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Charges of prostitution in Washington, D.C., are filed as misdemeanors, but that doesn't necessary mean it is a minor crime.

For one, it tends to attract the attention of the news media, which can lead to major embarrassment. And not only embarrassment, but job loss, loss of reputation and future issues that could be affected by an old charge.

An aggressive Washington. D.C.. criminal defense attorney will tell you that these charges are often based on "sting" operations designed to trap as many people as possible. In some cases, overzealous police officers will bend the truth to make an arrest.

According to The Post, the man's campaign manager says he was targeted and wasn't soliciting a prostitute in any way. Police say the incident happened around midnight near K Street NE. He faces a charge of solicitation for lewd and immoral purposes.

The newspaper reports that his father spent three terms in the seat until he lost in a 2004 Democratic primary election. Chavous is the district coordinator for the Black Alliance for Educational Options and is a proponent of parent choice issues.

Police typically set up these prostitution operations in areas after neighbors complain there is an increase in criminal activity. The typical set up is a female officer dressed as a prostitute walk the streets within view of undercover police officers who are either parked nearby or sitting nearby.

Sometimes, conversations between officers and "Johns" are recorded and other times they aren't. The issue of entrapment is common in these cases and there is a fine line between what is entrapment and what isn't.

Generally, entrapment is when police entice a person into committing a crime they normally wouldn't have committed. That's why the alleged conversation between a suspect and an undercover police officer prostitute is so important. Simply pulling up to a prostitute and striking up a conversation isn't illegal.

Once the issue of money in exchange for sex comes up, that's when a person can get in trouble. But if the police officer brings up the topic first and entices the person to agree to a deal, it's possible that's entrapment. Depending on the facts, motions can be filed in advance of a trial that could seek a dismissal of the charges.

Each case is different, but equally important. An arrest is a bad mark on a person's life, but fighting back and ensuring there is no conviction can go a long way toward restoring a person's credibility. Each person is guaranteed a fair trial.

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September 16, 2011

On Washington, DC Prostitution Sting Operations

Cuffs12.jpgA car pulls up to two women on 13th and L Street NW Washington, DC. The driver asks the women where they are going. The women respond with "where do you want us to be going?" At this point the driver will ask if the women are cops. He does this because TV has taught us that an undercover cop has to tell you if they are or else it's entrapment. As I have discussed in a previous post on this blog, this is not true. They can and will lie. A common answer seen on police reports is "hell no we ain't cops. Do we look like (expletive) cops? Are you cops?" At this point the driver, a passenger, or the undercover vice cops name a price and the other party agrees, and cops swarm the car. Everyone in the car who participated in the conversation is generally charged with solicitation of prostitution and gets placed in a van with everyone else caught that night. Sometimes the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) needs two or more vans to transport all of the people arrested in the sting operation.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer who represents people charged with solicitation of prostitution, I see these same set of facts over and over again. One reason for this is that the MPD has apparently decided this a major problem worthy of a lot of time and money. Regardless of why the police were conducting a sting, if you were unlucky enough to get arrested, you are probably concerned with keeping a potentially embarrassing solicitation charge off your record. One thing I like to do for my clients is to speak with the prosecutor and try to get them to offer a deferred prosecution agreement or "DPA."

In Washington, DC, a DPA means that you enter an agreement to do 32 hours of community service and not get arrested for four months. If you do the community service, the government will dismiss the charge and you will not have a conviction on your record. A DSA is only one option. There may be another type of diversion program available or you may need to demand a trial and fight the charges. It is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction.

One other thing that I would like to elaborate on in this post is what it means to do community service in Washington, DC and what it doesn't mean. It generally doesn't mean wearing a reflective vest and picking up trash on the side of the highway. This type of community service is generally reserved for those serving time in jail or prison and request an outdoor job. In the case of a DPA or DSA, you can choose from over 30 approved non-profit organizations and do the community serve at a time convenient to you and the organization. Approved organizations include shelters, religious organizations, clinics, historical societies, and others. Most people can find something that interests them. A community service deferent such as the ones just mentioned may also be an option if you are charged with simple assault, some DUI charges, and other misdemeanors. They are not just for solicitation of prostitution charges.

I should also mention that if you are a candidate for a DPA or DSA, one of the requirements is to have three consecutive negative drug tests before the government will sign the agreement. It does not matter whether you were arrested on a drug charge or not. If you have a positive result, it does not mean that the deal is off the table but it is in your best interest to stay clean. PSA can generally find out if you are water-loading or using a product designed to help pass a drug test.

June 27, 2011

On Prostitution and Solicitation Charges in Washington, DC

red_light.jpgThere is no question that many people get arrested in Washington, DC each year for crimes involving prostitution. One common scenario is for a man to get arrested when trying to pick up a prostitute who actually turns out to be an undercover vice cop with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). In this case, the charge will normally be solicitation of prostitution. In Washington, DC, a prostitution charge carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine for the first offense. For second and third offenses of solicitation or prostitution, the maximum jail time and fines increase. A third solicitation offense in Washington, DC is punishable for a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who represents people charged with solicitation and prostitution, one of the biggest concerns is not always the potential penalty, but rather the possible embarrassment, employment issues, and whether the charge could affect one's security clearance. While a solicitation of prostitution charge is a misdemeanor in Washington, DC, it is certainly one that many people would not want to have on their criminal record, and this is understandable.

Some of the things your lawyer can discuss with you are the ways in which your case may be resolved without a conviction on your record. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) where you agree to pay some fines, do some community service hours, and stay away from a particular area. If you complete the requirements of the DPA, your attorney will go back to court with you and the government will dismiss the case against you. This is only one example of how your lawyer can assist through this unpleasant experience.

You should speak with your attorney about these concerns. You should hire a lawyer whom you trust and feel comfortable talking to, who will listen to your side of the story, and who will treat you in the respectful and professional manner you deserve. Always remember that an arrest is not a conviction.