Can I Get Charged with Soliciting a Prostitute If I Never Meet Them in Person?

Many people wrongly assume that sexual activity needs to occur for prostitution charges to stick. Similarly, it’s also wrong to assume that you need to meet a prostitute in person to be subject to solicitation charges. Washington’s prostitution laws are written specifically to make it easier for law enforcement to set up sting operations to catch prospective sex buyers. Anyone purporting to sell sex could be an undercover police officer. All you have to do is reach a verbal agreement to become subject to criminal liability. Whether the agreement is made in person over the phone or on a messaging platform is irrelevant.

If you’ve been accused of soliciting a prostitute in Tacoma or Kent, it is important that you don’t take the matter lightly. However, with an effective defense, you can secure the best possible results. Maybe you misunderstood the situation, what was being arranged, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Call Kent prostitution lawyer Morgan Fletcher Benfield right away.

Contact us online or by calling (253) 518-3643 to schedule a free initial consultation.

You Do Not Need to Meet in Person to Be Charged With Solicitation

The internet has changed the way most businesses operate. And the sex industry is no exception. Where prostitutes and potential clients used to find each other in the streets, they now tend to organize their meetings through computers or smartphones. Websites such as Backpage and Craigslist became popular online platforms for sex workers to offer their services. But law enforcement quickly caught on.

Now, the police often pose as sex workers on online ads to make arrests and file solicitation charges. This law enforcement strategy works because you don’t need to have sex or even meet a prostitute in person to get charged with a crime. The applicable statutes are:

  • Solicitation (RCW 9A.88.110)–The law considers that you have patronized a prostitute any time you pay a fee for sexual activity pursuant to a prior understanding, if you do the same through a third party, or if you offer or agree to pay for sexual activity.
  • Prostitution (RCW 9A.88.030)–Similarly, a person is guilty of prostitution if they actually engage in, or simply agree or offer to engage in sexual activity in exchange for a fee.

These laws are written specifically so that law enforcement can make the arrest prior to any sexual contact occurs. Even more, it is clear that for both solicitation and prostitution statutes, there is no requirement to meet in person. This allows a prosecutor to use evidence that you reached an agreement by phone or message when charging you with solicitation. Nowhere do the statutes state that you must meet up with the alleged prostitute.

That being said, solicitation arrests usually occur when the suspect attempts to meet with the law enforcement officer posing as a prostitute. The reason is simple: it’s easier for the police to wait for you to come to them. Otherwise, they would have to track you down through your phone number, messenger ID, or email address, then obtain a warrant for your arrest, and then actually come to your house to apprehend you. It’s unlikely for the police to take these steps unless you attempt to meet with an underage prostitute.

How a Tacoma Solicitation Lawyer Can Help

When you get arrested for solicitation, the prospect of criminal penalties may be the least of your worries. Your reputation, professional standing, and family life all hang in the balance. At the Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we understand these concerns and are able to help our clients by acting quickly and decisively on their behalf. If you have been charged with solicitation, call us today at (253) 518-3643 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.