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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
The state of Texas takes prostitution and related crimes very seriously, especially if the alleged offense involves a minor. Prostitution charges can be stressful, embarrassing, and damaging to your reputation. A Houston prostitution lawyer could help you devise the best defense to fight back against any charges you are facing.
A detail-oriented defense lawyer may investigate the circumstances surrounding your charges, assess the situation, and work toward a favorable resolution in your case. Getting legal advice when you need it most can help you create a plan to protect your rights and reputation.
Prostitution Charges in Houston
Under Tex. Pen. Code § 43.02, it is illegal to purposely offer or agree to receive payment from another to engage in sexual conduct. It is likewise unlawful to intentionally offer or agree to pay another to engage in sexual behavior, whether it is with that person or another person. Payment can be money or anything of value.
This expansive definition of prostitution encompasses traditional notions of both prostitution and solicitation. In other words, both the so-called prostitute and the person paying for the services commit the same criminal offense.
The offense of prostitution under Texas law is also broad in the sense that no physical contact or any sexual conduct need occur for someone to be charged. As long as the person allegedly offers to pay or receives payment in exchange for sexual conduct, they can face charges.
A prostitution charge generally is a Class B misdemeanor. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 12.22, a Class B misdemeanor conviction can result in a maximum jail sentence of 180 days and a maximum fine of $2,000. However, even a misdemeanor prostitution conviction can appear on background checks by employers and landlords for years to come.
As is the case with most offenses, subsequent charges may be more serious, accompanied by harsher potential penalties. A second or third prostitution offense is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction on a Class A misdemeanor may result in up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
In some cases, a prostitution charge can rise to the level of a felony. For example, for individuals with three or more previous prostitution convictions, the charge increases to a state jail felony. Conviction on a state jail felony may result in a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Furthermore, if the subject to whom the person allegedly offers or agrees to offer money is under the age of 18, then the offense becomes a second-degree felony. This is regardless as to whether the person knew that the subject is under the age of 18 or not. A second-degree felony conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Other Offenses Involving Prostitution
There are other felony offenses under Texas law that also involve prostitution. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 43.03, it is a state jail felony to engage in the promotion of prostitution, although it can be a higher-level felony in some circumstances. This offense results when someone receives payment from participating in prostitution or solicits others to engage in sexual conduct with others for payment.
Aggravated promotion of prostitution occurs under Tex. Pen. Code § 43.04 when a person intentionally owns, controls, manages or invests in a prostitution enterprise that involves two or more prostitutes. This offense is a second-degree felony unless it involves individuals under the age of 18, in which case it becomes a first-degree felony. As a result of the potential severity of the penalties associated with this offense, consulting a Houston prostitution attorney for advice may be wise.
Work with a Houston Prostitution Attorney
When you are facing prostitution or related charges, you should have a clear understanding of the severity of the situation and the potential penalties for a conviction. A Houston prostitution lawyer could explain the charges against you and explore all available options for resolving the matter as efficiently and positively as possible. Protect your future by getting the skilled and experienced legal representation that you need today. Call now to learn more.