Henrico County Prostitution Lawyer
Although many believe that prostitution is a victim-less crime, Virginia has still criminalized the exchange of money for sexual acts. A person can be charged with a prostitution offense both for offering sex for money and for soliciting sexual acts in exchange for financial reward. The laws do not even require sex to have occurred for someone to be charged–just the attempt to reap financial rewards or to provide money for sex can result in serious criminal charges. A Henrico County prostitution lawyer can provide advice on approaching your charges so you can minimize the consequences and perhaps avoid jail time and a criminal record.
Prostitution Crimes in Henrico County
Some of the Virginia laws that criminalize prostitution include:
- Virginia Code section 18.2-346: This law defines prostitution as engaging in, or offering to engage in, fornication or any other sexual acts in exchange for money or its equivalent. Asking for sexual acts in exchange for money or its equivalent is defined as solicitation. Both solicitation and prostitution are class 1 misdemeanors, with a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
- Code section 18.2-347: This law makes it illegal to keep, visit, or reside in a “bawdy” A “bawdy place” is a location that is used for prostitution. Each visit to the “bawdy” place is a separate criminal offense. This crime is also a class 1 misdemeanor.
- Code section 18.2-348: This law prohibits someone from cooperating with, or aiding in, prostitution or illegal sexual intercourse. If you procure a prostitute for someone or transport someone to a bawdy place for purposes of illegal sex, these behaviors are a violation of this law, and you can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.
- Code section 18.2-349: This law makes it a crime to allow a vehicle you own or are driving to be used for the purpose of prostitution or unlawful sexual intercourse. The prosecutor must prove intent–or knowledge that the vehicle will be used to promote prostitution–for you to be charged with this class 1 misdemeanor.
- Code section 18.2-355: This law deals with the offense of taking or detaining someone for purposes of prostitution. If you try to coerce or compel someone to become a prostitute, you can be charged with this class 4 felony.
- Code section 18.2-356: This law makes it a class 4 felony to receive money for coercing or forcing someone into prostitution.
- Code section 18.2-357: This law makes it a class 4 felony to receive money or its equivalent from the earning of either a male or a female engaged in prostitution.
Virginia laws also allow for the government to compel a convicted prostitute to undergo testing for certain sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C.
How a Henrico County Prostitution Lawyer Can Help
The court is most harsh in punishing those who are in the business of procuring and making money from prostitutes, so those who simply engage in or solicit sex for money can usually avoid jail time for a first offense. However, even if you do not go to jail, a conviction for solicitation or prostitution can be life-changing, as it will show up on future background checks.
To avoid a prostitution record, an attorney can attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with a prosecutor, which will sometimes allow you to plead to a lesser offense, like disorderly conduct depending on your prior criminal record and the facts of your case. Also, your Henrico County prostitution lawyer can also help you to plead not guilty to try to avoid conviction. Possible defenses to prostitution charges include:
- Entrapment: tricked into offering or engaging in sex for money.
- Mistake: No intent to engage in or offer money for a sex act.
- Coercion: Victim of human trafficking and/or otherwise were forced into prostitution.
- Lack of evidence: If it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you should not be convicted.
A Henrico County prostitution lawyer will help you to consider whether these or other defenses could work in your case. Contact an attorney as soon as possible if you are accused of a prostitution offense, so you can make smart choices on how to deal with your charges.