Robin Fuson

How Do Police Investigate Prostitution Charges?

Criminal Defense

In the United States, the crime of prostitution has recently come under the spotlight again. In early 2017, Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill that would remove part of the law that allows law enforcement investigating prostitution to legally have sex with those they are investigating. While that brews, the state of Florida has its own legal challenges.

Sting Operations in Florida

One of the most popular methods of investigating prostitution is through the use of sting operations according to our prostitution lawyers. This type of investigation allows law enforcement to go undercover in order to collect evidence and arrest both prostitutes and their customers. The legalities of that have always been controversial; after all, the police are in effect arresting two consenting adults who are having sex.  The prostitutes have no interest in providing information about their customers and the men who pay for the sex have no interest in providing their names to law enforcement. Because these acts occur in the dark or behind closed doors, rarely are there any witnesses who can testify to the act. That leaves just one option: sting operations.

Michigan, as mentioned, is the only state that allows a police officer to “complete” the act by engaging in intercourse. Other states allow for limited contact, including Florida. The prostitutes want their customers to prove they’re not the police and therefore, will require the customer to prove it by doing something illegal – usually touching, kissing or even doing drugs. They reason that a police officer would not break the law in order to arrest someone else who is also breaking the law. That’s why the courts routinely allow for limited contact so that the investigators can “prove” to the prostitute they’re not with any law enforcement agency.

Johns and Prostitutes

While many times, it is the prostitutes who are targeted, there are times when law enforcement agencies will send in their own prostitutes, an officer who is working undercover in order to catch the “johns.” This too can be dangerous and these stings almost always include backup just feet away from the where the meeting between the undercover and john occurs. Most often, it is videotaped with a camera that is feeding into an adjoining hotel room. This can help shore a conviction. There is also what’s called a “John Statute.” This is a law that can discourage men seeking out the services of a prostitute.  Under Florida statute 796.07(6), the conviction comes with a mandatory $5,000 fine and often, other penalties are added (indecent exposure or even improper parking, for instance).

Most often, breaking these laws is a misdemeanor for the prostitute and come with fines (sometimes as high as $5,000 for a first offense) and sometimes community service. Further, STD testing and an AIDS awareness seminar might sometimes be required as part of any plea deal. Multiple arrests carry harsher penalties, including facing felony charges and jail or prison time.  Unfortunately, it is most often the prostitutes,and not the johns, who face significant legal repercussions versus their clients.

For more information, speak to a prostitution lawyer today.

Robin Fuson
By Robin Fuson