When Prostitution Charges Occur
What are some common scenarios in which prostitution and solicitation charges occur?
Kush Arora: I see these charges in all kinds of scenarios down to the most basic offenses where somebody is in an urban area soliciting, seeking out people to offer that service to, all the way to operations that are more sophisticated where people are setting up online operations, taking out advertisements on various websites like Craigslist. I see them most often in Prince George’s County where there is a high volume of this kind of criminal charge in the court system. It’s not so much that actual prostitution is taking place or actual solicitation is taking place, but instead police officers are posing as prostitutes, soliciting these services through various websites, and are trying to catch people who respond to the services and who are seeking out somebody to pay for sex or sexual services. These kinds of sting operations are set up by our police department for a lot of different reasons. One reason is to catch people who are engaging in this kind of behavior, but more often to try to catch people who might be not only trying to engage in this behavior but are also seeking out people who are under a particular age who might be offering these kinds of services. This is to combat two things; the first being to keep the risk of people seeking prostitution services low and also to keep people who might be soliciting these services from minors off the street. They are trying to figure out who those people are in our community to make sure that they are brought to justice so that the youth in the community are able to stay safe.
If a person is caught in one of these chats by the police department, is it a different charge than if they are caught on the street or is it the same?
Kush Arora: It is actually not a different charge; it goes to the assignation subsection of the statute as opposed to the solicitation part. Somebody who is charged on the street can still be charged with assignation under the prostitution statute, meaning that they tried to approach somebody and actually respond to the solicitation for sexual services. The assignation section of the prostitution statute allows for these sting operations to take place because the statute itself says that if a person responds to a person and sets up an appointment with someone who is offering these kinds of services, they are also guilty under the prostitution statute. Even if what was happening on the other side of it was fictitious and it didn’t actually exist, it was a setup or a sting operation of some kind. These sting operations are very popular. People are caught in them every single day and they are charged under the prostitution statute in the same way that they would be in the more traditional sense of what we might interpret a prostitution type case to be.
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