Prostitution has been done since ancient times. Genesis 38:15-18 records Judah asking and negotiating with Tamar for prostitution. Judah was the man whom the Tribe of Judah is named after and which Jesus and King David were descendants of. If Judah was soliciting Tamar for prostitution in Florida, he would be committing a crime as well as Tamar accepting the offer.
There are many countries around the world where prostitution is legal and in many cultures it is permitted; however, in Florida, it is a crime to commit prostitution or to be somehow associated with the prostitution. People who immigrate to Florida can get in trouble because in their previous home country prostitution was legal. They don’t bother to look up the laws of Florida and ignorance of the law is no defense.
Prostitution is the business of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment. Prostitutes are sometimes called hookers or sex workers while their customers are sometimes called John’s. The male organizers of prostitutes are called pimps while the female organizers are call madams or mama-sans.
Chapter 796 of the Florida Statutes deals with prostitution in West Palm Beach. Section 796.07 focuses more specifically on prostitution and the related acts of individuals regarding prostitution. This section prohibits nine different activities involving prostitution. This page will briefly discuss the violations under this section.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(a) - Maintaining a Place of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Place to Make Prostitution Appointments
This paragraph seeks to target the pimps and madams who run brothels. One situation where an innocent person could get caught by this statute is where a landlord rents the apartment out to a renter who then uses the apartment or house as a brothel.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant established, owned, maintained, or operated any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
“Lewdness” is any indecent or obscene act. “Indecent” means wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual intention on the part of the person doing the act.
“Assignation” means the making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(b)- Soliciting for the Purpose of Prostitution or a Lewd or Indecent Act
This paragraph prohibits “drumming-up” business for prostitutes by going around and making deals to get someone a prostitute.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant offered, offered to secure, or agreed to secure another person for the purpose of prostitution or any lewd or indecent act.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(c)- Receiving for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation
Paragraph (c) is seeking to outlaw individuals who are allowing the prostitute to commit sexual activity. This could be the owner of a hotel, a camper, a van, a house, etc. This statute also criminalizes individuals who allow individuals to stay in one of these places for prostitution or lewdness. This can create a potential situation where an innocent person allowed a prostitute in because of other reasons and did not know prostitution was going on, but was arrested under this paragraph. For example, a Good Samaritan took into their house a person off the streets who needed help, but later finds out the person is a hooker secretly still trying to make some more money by planning and operating out of the house.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant received, offered to receive, or agreed to receive a person into a place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation; or
- The defendant permitted a person to remain in a place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(d)- Transporting for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation
This crime seeks to prohibit individuals from knowingly driving prostitutes to locations. Drivers for escort services generally fall into this paragraph because drivers have reasonable knowledge that escorts commit prostitution. Some managers of escorts even put in the escort’s contract a prohibition of prostitution or in advertisements a disclaimer; however, depending on the facts of the situation, a legitimate escort service could get in trouble depending on how the services are marketed. An advertisement could prove the transporter had reason to believe prostitution would happen. See Helms v. State.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant directed, took, transported, offered or agreed to direct, take, transport a person to a place, a structure, or a building of another person; and
- At the time, the defendant knew or had reasonable cause to believe that such directing, taking, or transporting was for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
This paragraph is targeting the prostitutes or the johns because either one of them would be soliciting or engaging in prostitution. The police need to watch a transaction happen and not just the individuals having sexual relations. It is illegal to commit prostitution while having sex is not illegal. See Roe v. Butterworth, 958 F. Supp. 1569 (S.D. Fla.), affirmed, 129 F. 3d 1221 (11th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1024 (1998).
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt: the defendant offered to commit, committed, or engaged in prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(f)- Soliciting for Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation
This paragraph is similar to (e) which will seek to criminalize Johns and prostitutes from soliciting prostitution. The only real difference between paragraph (e), the previously discussed crime, and (f) is (e) is the crime of offering prostitution while (f) is a crime of asking for prostitution.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt: the defendant solicited, induced, enticed, or procured another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(g) - Entering for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation
The individuals being charged with this crime are those that have been involved in a police sting. A john is lured into the location where the police arrest him. One possible defense is the defendant was not entering the location for prostitution but for some other purpose.
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt: the defendant resided in, entered, or remained in a place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(h) - To Aid, Abet, or Participate in Any of the above Crimes
This paragraph criminalizes anyone aiding prostitutes or johns committing any of the crimes. The prosecutor is going to have to show that the defendant knew that prostitution was going on while helping; otherwise, a good criminal defense attorney can make a motion to have the defendant acquitted. See Baker v. State. For example, if you are honestly working as an accountant at a business which has a secret side business as a brothel or schedules prostitutes, you cannot be convicted of this crime if you did not know.
Florida Statute 796.07(2)(i) - Purchasing the Services of Any Person Engaged in Prostitution
This paragraph targets the johns specifically who are trying to buy the services.
One good defense is entrapment. Florida Statute 777.201 provides for an acquittal if by the preponderance of the evidence, the law enforcement officer induced or encouraged the defendant by employing methods of persuasion or inducement which creates a substantial risk that such crime will be committed by a person other than one who is ready to commit it.
If the prosecutor does not show a money exchange, one defense is that the defendant was not a prostitute but someone having casual sex. Prostitution is sex in exchange for money, not just sex. See Haddaway v. State.
Many of the crimes require a knowledge element on the part of the defendant. The defendant has to know they are actually doing some action for the purpose of prostitution.
Any violation results in a $5,000 fine! This statutory
The first violation of any of these crimes is a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
A second violation is a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable up to 365 days in jail.
A third violation is a third-degree felony which is punishable up to 5 years in prison. This crime is ranked as a level 1 crime under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.
If a vehicle is involved, most likely the police will seize the vehicle under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA) which is sections 932.701-932.706 of the Florida State Statutes.
Anyone convicted of this crime three or more times will be required to enter some type of prostitution intervention program.
Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
These types of cases in West Palm Beach can be defended. Call our law offices today to schedule a 5 minute free consultation to meet with one of our West Palm Beach attorneys so we can hear your version of the story. From those facts, we will develop a defense strategy to your case to fight it, even all the way to trial. We understand that not all cases can be won, however, we won’t just give up, but we will continue to fight for you to receive lesser charges or a lesser sentence. Either way, we will always fight for you. Call today so we can get to work helping you.