Prostitution, solicitation, and related conduct conjures up images of dark alleys and seedy street corners, but the truth is that arrangements are made through websites more frequently than ever. Platforms like Skip the Games.com, the now-defunct Backpage.com, and even Craigslist are resources that enable a more streamlined experience that appeals to parties on both sides of the transaction. However, the increase in these activities has caught the attention of the criminal justice community. Online prostitution stings are becoming more common, leading to serious charges, potentially harsh penalties, and embarrassment for accused individuals.
At Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP, our criminal defense attorneys understand that the stakes are high when you’re accused of violating Ohio’s laws on prostitution and solicitation. You could be facing hefty fines, imprisonment, and other punishment for a conviction; not to mention the damage to your reputation is immeasurable. Fortunately, there are strategies for fighting the charges and our team can help. Please call our Dublin, OH office at Call (614) 500-3836 to set up a free consultation with a Columbus prostitution and solicitation defense lawyer today. You might also benefit from reviewing some important information about these cases.
How Skip the Games.com and Similar Sites Work
Simply put, these websites are just like any other online marketplace with sellers and buyers, except that the transaction involves sex instead of lawful goods or services. Some, including Skip the Games.com and Backpage.com, portray themselves as being a sort of dating site for consenting adults. Still, authorities are very aware that the sex trade is thriving through these online platforms. Though the specifics vary among different services, the basics are similar in nature:
- Users create a profile, in much the same way as they would on social media sites, legitimate dating sites, or online marketplaces like eBay. They post a short physical description, and upload photos and videos for other members of the online community to view. The content ranges from merely provocative to pornographic in nature.
- After completing a basic profile and entering contact information, users can post personal ads that include a “menu” of the sex acts and experiences they’re willing to perform. There’s typically no mention of money in the ads, so as to avoid raising suspicions of law enforcement.
- Users who sees the ad can contact the person offering sex, provide information on the services they’re seeking, make arrangements to meet, and establish a price.
Using Skip the Games.com Can Lead to Criminal Charges
When Craigslist shut down its adult section and authorities effectively shut down Backpage.com through legislative measures, other services picked up where they left off. Skip the Games.com is just one example of entrepreneurs getting creative and developing similar sites, leading to a sizeable surge in website-enabled prostitution transactions.
Officials in Ohio swiftly responded by engaging in online prostitution stings, in which police arrange a meeting through the site and arrest the person who offered to buy or sell sex. Law enforcement officers have evolved considerably through training and their efforts to track down wrongdoing, fueled in part by increased usage of artificial intelligence, online “listening” technology, and related tools. Police are better able to detect and pursue those who violate the law, who may face such charges as:
- Prostitution: Engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money or other item of value;
- Solicitation: Offering or requesting another person to engage in prostitution; and,
- Trafficking: Using other individuals as prostitutes and profiting from it, an arrangement that’s akin to slavery.
Of course, while these offenses are serious as they pertain to a person of any age, the charges can be even more severe when they involve a minor child.
Penalties for Prostitution and Solicitation in Ohio
If you’re arrested and convicted for unlawful activities associated with use of Skip the Games.com and related websites, you could face imprisonment and fines. The basic crimes of prostitution and solicitation are Third Degree Misdemeanors in Ohio, so you could be sentenced up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. However, the offenses can be elevated to felony charges for repeat offenders and anyone who has tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
In addition, when prostitution, solicitation, or other illegal conduct involves a child, you may be charged with a felony. The degree depends on the child’s age and other specific circumstances, but your punishment may include five or more years imprisonment and fines reaching $10,000 or more.
Trust Our Columbus Prostitution and Solicitation Defense Attorneys to Protect Your Rights
Your situation may seem grim if you’ve been arrested for prostitution or solicitation through use of Skip the Games.com or any other scenario. However, it’s always important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction, and prosecutors have a difficult burden of proof in court. To discuss your defense options, please contact Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP to schedule a no-cost case assessment. You can reach our Dublin, OH office by calling (614) 500-3836 or visiting us online. We’re happy to offer helpful advice and explain the relevant legal concepts once we review your situation.