The authorities are aggressively fighting prostitution in Columbus and across the state of Ohio. In July of this year, the Columbus police conducted a two-day prostitution sting that resulted in the arrest of 43 women and 24 men. From a public policy perspective, the fight against prostitution is closely tied to the struggles against drug abuse, the HIV epidemic, and the scourge of human trafficking.
The police arrest people from all walks of life for allegedly engaging in solicitation and prostitution. In Dayton this April, the Dayton police used a fake Internet ad to catch a diverse group of alleged “Johns,” or people soliciting prostitutes. According to Sargent Kelly Hamilton of the Dayton Police Department, the group included a post office worker, a foreign air force officer, a business owner and even a fellow police officer.
The Police Are Using Craigslist and Backpage to Fight Prostitution
Long gone are the days where the street was the primary marketplace for prostitution. With the advent of the Internet and sites such as Craigslist and Backpage, both prostitutes and their prospective clients could set up meetings in relative safety. But now, the police have caught on.
The stings work in two ways. Sometimes, undercover police officers pose as customers responding to ads for “companions” or massage services in the hopes of arresting prostitutes. In other cases, the police create the Internet ads and then arrest the prospective customers when they show up and agree to exchange money for sex. The police usually capture audio and video recordings of the encounter to substantiate the charges.
No sexual activity needs to take place for criminal charges to apply. For example, Ohio Code section 2907.241 prohibits soliciting a prostitute, which takes place any time you knowingly and intentionally persuade or offer another person to engage in sexual activity in exchange for something of value.
If a police officer gains reasonable cause to believe you are soliciting, you could get arrested. If convicted of this first-degree misdemeanor, you could face a maximum penalty of $1,000 and 6 months in jail. Worse still, the conviction will become public information available to potential employers.
Is There a Way Out for People Who Get Caught in a Prostitution Sting?
In the past, claiming entrapment was one of the most effective ways of defending a solicitation case. Entrapment occurs when the police implant a criminal idea in the mind of an otherwise law-abiding citizen. For example, a police officer posing as a prostitute walking down the street aggressively propositioning bystanders is committing entrapment.
Unfortunately, this defense it usually not available to people who respond to ads. Indeed, it is difficult to convince a judge or a jury of the entrapment theory when there is evidence that the defendant:
- Was looking at suggestive ads on Craigslist or Backpage
- Responded to a suggestive ad
- Set up a meeting with someone purporting to be a prostitute
- Showed up to the meeting with condoms and cash on hand
That being said, a good Columbus solicitation lawyer will always review all of the prosecution’s evidence and determine whether the police committed entrapment or any other blunder that could result in the charges being dismissed. The prosecution must prove every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and it’s often possible to refute all or part of the prosecution’s case.
How a Columbus Solicitation Lawyer from Luftman, Heck and Associates Lawyer Can Help You
Even when a conviction is inevitable, it’s important to have a skilled Columbus solicitation lawyer by your side who can help you avoid the harshest penalties for a conviction and advise you on how to get the solicitation conviction off your criminal record. If you’re facing charges for soliciting a prostitute, call Luftman, Heck & Associates today at (614) 500-3836 for a free and confidential consultation. If you are in need of legal help, contact the Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates today.