The following blog is excerpted from a transcription of an interview with attorney Seth Okin in which he discusses prostitution charges in Maryland.
Seth Okin: As the defense, it is important to get any and all discovery from the state. We would want to know which officer was there and what was said in the ad itself. It is tough in cases like this to show that someone was coerced into something and the prosecution just needs to show that the conversation had some legitimacy. What is very important about the process is what you actually did. Your conduct, whether you knowingly engaged in sex for money, and whether you had knowledge that the sex was for money are all very important. Knowing that the act itself that you did or had an indication of sex for money is the first thing I look at as the defense attorney. Then I look at whether there was sexual contact. If you hired someone who came over and gave you a massage, that is not sexual contact. The big thing is if it goes further than that, because then it is sexual in nature. We also want to address who the individual is, whether there was sex for hire, and whether this person is a prostitute or someone who is looking for money. Did the person say, “If you pay me X dollars I will perform the following act?”
Seth Okin: The charge of prostitution or solicitation in general carries a penalty of one year in jail and a $500 fine. If there is an allegation of any type of human trafficking along with the prostitution or solicitation charge, the penalty increases to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the individual that you were allegedly trafficking is a minor, the penalty is 25 years behind bars and a $15,000 fine. The other important thing to remember is that if you happen to be receiving any of the earnings from the prostitution, that is punishable by a 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. You would also have to appear on the sex offender registry.
Seth Okin: The biggest thing that most of my clients will ask me about if they were lured into a situation is entrapment. A lot of people will say, “I was trapped. They brought me there and they made me do it.” The problem is that nobody makes you do something. They also sometimes say, “Well, nobody was hurt but they coerced me. The deal was so good, how could I not do it?” I always tell my clients that they still shouldn’t do it because it’s illegal. Just because someone is offering you something that you enjoy, that doesn’t mean you take them up on it. Entrapment is specifically inducement by a government agent of a person or an individual to commit a crime by the use of fraud or undue persuasion. Entrapment is used in an attempt to set up a criminal charge against a person. With prostitution or solicitation, they aren’t really using fraud but it could potentially be considered undue persuasion. That would probably be the only time that constitutional issues come into play.
Seth Okin: I wish I could say that I have had an opportunity to use constitutional issues in one of these cases but I haven’t. More often than not, my clients come in and say that the other person made first contact or that there were pimps that were arranging it. That does not constitute inducing them in any way except maybe the money. At that point, you’ve already talked about the act so there is nothing to be induced, there is no way in which they could be entrapped. I would love to find a case where I could show that, I just haven’t had one.
Seth Okin is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who represents clients charged in Maryland. Call his Maryland law office to schedule a free consultation at (410) 782-0742.