Prostitution and soliciting a prostitute are some of the most common charges in this area. Local law enforcement agencies conduct stings using websites like Backpage.com to catch individuals involved in these types of transactions. Perhaps it is because of the strong military presence in this area, bringing tens of thousands of young people far away from their homes, but the sex industry generates tremendous revenue in Hampton Roads; and considerable attention from law enforcement. The stakes are high, as solicitation and prostitution are both Class 1 misdemeanors, carrying up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. And unlike many other misdemeanor offenses, prosecutors in Virginia are usually looking for jail time when the charge is prostitution or solicitation. This is particularly true where the individual has previously been convicted of the same offense.
Virginia Code §18.2-346 criminalizes the commission of adultery, fornication, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, object sexual penetration, or anal intercourse for money or some other thing of value. In addition, the Code criminalizes the offer to commit any of these acts in exchange for money or something of value where the individual "thereafter does any substantial act in furtherance thereof". This language is critical, because in certain cases an agreement will be reached regarding the exchange of sexual services for money, but the individual will be arrested prior to doing any substantial act in furtherance of the agreement. In addition, from time to time police officers will arrest an individual for engaging in action that simply is not criminalized by the statute. Even where an individual has engaged in criminalized conduct, there are issues to be explored, such as the lawfulness of the arrest, as well as the possibility of entrapment. These defenses are highly technical, and should only be presented by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
These types of charges carry not only the possibility of jail time and fines, but also the tremendous stigma that comes from such a conviction. Many employers will terminate and not thereafter hire individuals convicted of this offense. This is particularly true for those in the military. The ramifications for those who are married or in relationships are obvious and usually swift. The bottom line is that these charges must be defended, and aggressively. Contact us today, we are ready to help you!