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In Texas, You Can Get Felony Charges for Soliciting Prostitution

Solicitation of Minor

Texas has long cultivated its reputation as a law-and-order state, the law-abiding southern neighbor of the Wild West, sometimes with unexpected consequences. Consider that Texas has some of the toughest cannabis laws in the country; even though Dallas and other large cities no longer prosecute cases where the only illegal action is possession of a small quantity of marijuana, the Texas medical cannabis program is highly restrictive, allowing only for the legal sale of products with less than one percent THC, and no legal sale of cannabis in smokable form. One reason that rifles are so popular in Texas is because of the Lone Star State's long history of restrictions on revolvers; Texas did not want any outlaws walking into a saloon and firing six shots. Just over two years ago, Texas became the first state to impose felony charges for solicitation of prostitution. A Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing major legal consequences for a mundane sex offense.

Penalties for Offering to Pay for Sex in Texas

In most states, offering to pay for sex is a misdemeanor. Texas is the first state to categorize solicitation of commercial sex as a felony. The motivation behind the new law, which went into effect in 2021, is that many commercial sex workers, especially in Texas, have not chosen to enter the world's oldest profession freely. Often, prostitution takes place under the auspices of organized crime, sometimes involving human trafficking; the people who benefit the most are the ones who hold high positions in these illegal businesses. Therefore, the goal is to prevent these illegal businesses from making money by imposing tough criminal penalties as a deterrent to prospective customers.

A first conviction can either be a state jail felony, with a sentence of six months to two years in state jail, or a third-degree felony, with a sentence of two to ten years in state prison. If there are aggravating factors, such as if the person from whom the defendant solicited sex is a minor, then soliciting prostitution is a second-degree felony. You can still be convicted even if no sex acts took place and no money changed hands.

Defenses to Charges of Soliciting Commercial Sex

If you get accused of offering to pay for sex, you have the right to fight your charges, just like you do with any other criminal charge. Possible defenses include duress, in other words, arguing that someone coerced you to offer to pay for sex, and lack of evidence. With the latter defense, you can argue that your words do not constitute an offer to pay for sexual favors. This defense is especially strong if the alleged solicitation took place over a text message. The jury can read the text messages for themselves and see that it is possible to interpret the meaning of the messages, especially in context, as something other than an offer to pay for sex. Dallas also offers a pretrial diversion program, especially for defendants accused of soliciting prostitution.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Criminal Defense Cases

Dallas criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing felony charges for soliciting commercial sex. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.

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