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Prostitution Investigations in Maryland
How are prostitution cases typically investigated?
Kush Arora: When we’re not talking about a sting operation, in the most traditional sense, the investigation usually takes place with some third party making the police aware of what is happening. The most popular way that these cases come into the court system is by way of a sting operation. But probably the second most popular way that these cases come to court is, for example, if a prostitute has a hotel room in a local hotel that she or a group of people have rented out for several days. The hotel staff might be monitoring the fact that people are coming into that hotel room on a pretty regular basis or that people are always coming in after a particular period of time and the same people are not repeatedly coming in and out. They might decide to alert the police to the fact that they think that something illegal might be taking place in that room. From there, an investigation is usually set up by police officers. They might take an opportunity to approach people that are coming out from those rooms and ask them questions. Sometimes those people don’t recognize that they don’t have to answer the police officer’s questions so they decide to confess to everything that has been happening in that room. That is a very popular way that prostitution rings get busted when they are taking place in a more traditional sense in a hotel room or something along those lines. Another way that investigations take place is by officers patrolling popular areas where they believe that this kind of activity is taking place. We don’t see a great deal of that in many of the suburban counties in the state of Maryland, but if we get into places that are more urban like Baltimore City, there are locations that are known for high criminal activity, high drug activity, and high prostitution activity. Officers patrol those areas very often looking for illegal activity. They know what to recognize before approaching people and they develop whatever articulable suspicion they need to begin asking questions and investigate the circumstances.
What goes into investigating these types of charges on your end?
Kush Arora: When I begin the investigation process in these kinds of cases, I need to get a sense of a couple of different things. The first is how the police got involved in the investigation to begin with. If this was an investigation that was based on a sting operation over the computer, then it’s important for me to obtain any records, such as computer records, and try to get as much information as possible about what was exchanged in any electronic form so that I can have all the pieces of the puzzle to identify any errors or weaknesses in the state’s case.
If this was a different type of situation where officers had been following somebody for a while and finally put the pieces together, our investigation might have more to do with the sequence of events, such as when people arrived, and examining surveillance footage. The investigation really varies depending on the kind of case I’m dealing with and how the state or the police began their own investigation before charging the individual. There will be a different strategy on a case-by-case basis by determining what the scene is and what the most appropriate response is on the defense side to that scene in gathering our information.
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