Prostitution Offenses: What You Should Know

In this blog post we discuss a type of charge, namely: Prostitution – that is commonly (although not always) a difficult type of case for the State to make. Hence, it is often more advisable than not to vigorously contest Prostitution charges including taking them all the way to jury trial. No two cases are alike and we will fully advise you and discuss the particulars of your case with you. But at all times you, the client, will make the decision whether to accept a plea agreement or to go all the way to trial in your Prostitution case.

A low offer from the State on a case they cannot make, no matter how low, is too high. Prostitution charges, due to the wording of the statute, are often able to be filed on very scant evidence. We evaluate all the evidence, or lack thereof, to determine whether the State can make their case from a legal standpoint, then we consider whether we can persuasively argue the circumstances and problems with the evidence to a jury. The holes in the State’s evidence can often practically compel a jury to acquit you given that they are instructed that if they have any reasonable doubt at all that you are guilty they must acquit you. We will advise you if the State’s case is weak or one that they cannot make from a legal standpoint. Then you decide if you want to plead or set your case for trial.

Even if a low offer is something you want to consider we will still advise you if the State’s case is weak or cannot be made. We know there are too many things at stake in your life for you to risk making quick decision to accept an attractive plea offer JUST because it is “too good to pass up”. Prostitution is a crime of moral turpitude and, although “only” a misdemeanor, this element of moral turpitude can cause collateral repercussions in other areas of your life. Pleading guilty to a charge of Prostitution, even if to a deferred which is not a conviction, can have an impact on:

  • Your ability to obtain or re-qualify for professional licenses
  • Immigration issues
  • Your need to travel nationwide or internationally
  • Your ability to hunt or own firearms
  • Your ability to seal or expunge the case
  • Parole (if applicable)
  • and, the ever-present risk of being revoked despite your best efforts to comply with your rules of probation.

The truth is that most people don’t realize how little it takes to get charged with an offense of Prostitution in Texas. Most Harris County jurors in Prostitution trials state that they are surprised to learn that, in order for them to convict, the State does not even have to prove that anything actually took place – just that an offer or agreement for services for money was made. Whether the accused had the intent to follow through on the offer or the agreement that was made is not even an element in the offense.

A good trial lawyer will be able to convince most jurors that filing charges and trying cases like this is a waste of the State’s resources when other more urgent needs in the same area of moral turpitude exist to be fought against – such as human trafficking.

Harris County Prostitution Offense

The conduct of Harris County prosecutors shows they do not really want to try these types of cases esp. when the defense attorney is a skilled, experience trial lawyer able to argue the facts so as to arouse the sympathy of the jury for the defendant. This is one reason they are quick to offer tantalizing plea agreements such as time served or short deferred adjudication terms. This means, for those of our clients who really want to contest their case and not just get it over with, docketing the case for trial may be the way to go.

Consider that after 3 guilty pleas the misdemeanor charge of Prostitution is enhanced to a State Jail Felony. [A deferred, while not a conviction, and even if successfully completed, is a guilty plea and counts as one strike of the 3 needed to enhance.] This makes it even more reasonable to consider docketing a Prostitution case for trial.

As stated above, Prostitution is a crime involving moral turpitude, any conviction for which can have serious collateral consequences for defendants, esp. those applying for licenses in the educational field, medical field, or any field related to children or fiduciary / financial matters. Non-US citizens facing immigration consequences should esp. consider contesting their charge of Prostitution – if the facts and evidence are on our side – unless the State has incontrovertible audio recordings or other evidence that the agreement was made beyond a reasonable doubt.

The problem – for the State – with Prostitution cases is that police and prosecutors routinely do not preserve or present sufficient evidence of any intent to consummate the alleged agreement. We us this fact at trial. Although this is not an element of the defense it is a common sense issue that jurors will understand and that we urge them to consider. Many of our client’s cases ended with an alleged “agreement”, allegedly recorded on the undercover’s body cam, followed by our client driving away in the opposite direction of the place where he was to go meet the undercover officer, after which he is immediately arrested.

Additionally, we play on the jury’s sense of justice by pointing out the often shocking elements of deception used by the undercover vice officers in the typical Prostitution sting operation.

Police typically don’t read Harris County Prostitution arrestees their Miranda warnings or conduct a full custodial interrogation. We are able to argue at trial that this was a failure on the part of the police to do a thorough pre-arrest investigation – that you, our client, at no time refused to talk to the police – but rather that the police failed to do their job properly in failing to collect a necessary piece of evidence. We are able to present this lack of a custodial interrogation as one more lack of evidence to lead the jury to reasonable doubt: and they are instructed that if they have ANY reasonable doubt that you are guilty – they MUST acquit you – they have a constitutional duty to find you Not Guilty.

Again, the facts of every case are different as is every defendant’s background, needs and future goals. If you are charged with prostitution in Houston, Harris County, or surrounding areas, contact us today and we will advise and inform you every step of the way but the ultimate decision of whether to accept a plea agreement on a charge of Prostitution or continue on to trial is yours.