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Prostitution Penalties in Maryland

What are the penalties associated with a solicitation or prostitution charge?

Kush Arora: Generally speaking, the penalties associated with prostitution include a one-year maximum jail term and up to a $500 fine assessed against the individual. There are varying types of prostitution charges that can be more serious than a general prostitution charge, such as human trafficking or solicitation of people who are under a particular age or of a particular vulnerability. Those offenses carry far more significant penalties than just a maximum of one year in jail, but general prostitution is just a one-year maximum penalty.

What are the long-term implications of a conviction?

Kush Arora: Other than the social stigma that many people feel they face as a result of having a prostitution charge on their criminal record, the other long-term effects that people sometimes have to deal with are periods of probation and community service. Some judges order mental health or other types of evaluations to make sure that the person does not have any issues beyond the court’s immediate purview that need to be addressed. Courts and judges have the ability to impose penalties that have effects on a person for a longer period of time than the normal penalties that are outlined. Obviously the social stigma associated with these kinds of charges is the most difficult thing for most people to deal with.

What implications can a solicitation or prostitution charge have for an individual’s immigration status?

Kush Arora: It is important that anybody who is found in this situation that has the potential for immigration consequences speak to an immigration attorney immediately. There are significant consequences associated with immigration when it comes to prostitution cases because, for immigration purposes, a prostitution case is considered a crime of moral turpitude. That type of crime is considered particularly serious when it comes to immigration status in terms of evaluating a person’s status in this country, whether it is for an application for citizenship, a green card, or a visa. Immigration attorneys understand exactly what nuances are important in the way that a case like this should be resolved. They recognize that even though this is a misdemeanor charge and is not taken quite as seriously as some other cases in the criminal justice system, it can often have more significant consequences than other, more serious criminal charges when it comes to immigration status.

Why is it important to hire an attorney in a prostitution case?

Kush Arora: Prostitution cases are extremely sensitive in nature, they are extremely technical, and there is a lot of circumstantial evidence involved. Hiring an attorney who not only understands prostitution cases, but who also has a rapport with the detectives that are usually involved in investigating these cases, is extremely important. These cases are usually very gray as opposed to black and white in terms of the way that they are presented to the court and the way they are prosecuted.
There is often a great deal of negotiation and a great deal of opportunity for defense attorneys, prosecutors, and detectives to work together to come to a resolution that is favorable to a defendant and reasonable given the circumstances and the evidence against an individual. Somebody who is charged with an offense like this and attempts to handle it on their own exposes themselves to being treated unfairly based primarily on the fact that they do not have the expertise to negotiate this type of case on their own. They don’t have the ability to identify problems or weaknesses in the state’s case based on their own investigation.