Prostitution Facts in Texas
The crime of prostitution is unique because it has existed for centuries. Sometimes called “the world’s oldest profession“, the act of selling sex for money occurs throughout the world and Texas is no exception. Over the years, several myths have appeared surrounding the act of prostitution and the way that it is handled by law enforcement. It may be impossible to determine exactly how and where these myths got started but, for whatever reason, they have stuck around up to the present day.
Clearing up the myths surrounding prostitution can help people develop a better understanding of the truth about the law.
Common Prostitution Myths
There are many myths and falsehoods regarding the act of prostitution itself, how the crime is detected and how offenders are punished. Some of the most common myths involve the way that law enforcement targets and catches suspected offenders.
Police departments routinely use undercover agents posing as prostitutes or johns to set up sting operations. This is the source of several myths, including:
- Police officers must reveal their identity when asked and cannot break the law while undercover
- Only police officers are allowed to pose as prostitutes or johns
Both of these myths are very common and they may have been popularized by movies and crime dramas on television. They are also both completely untrue. Numerous court cases have shown that police officers are under no obligation to reveal their identities to suspects while they are undercover. Officers are well within their rights to lie if it helps them arrest suspects or solve a case.
Also, there have been several instances involving police officers who consumed drugs or alcohol while undercover. This is completely legal and a common tactic during sting operations.
While police officers usually don’t have to actually go through with sexual activity during a prostitution sting, they can hire civilians to do this if necessary. It’s not true that only police officers can go undercover. They often hire civilians outfitted with body cameras or microphones to pose as pimps, johns or prostitutes. In many cases, these civilians are suspects who are offered lighter sentence for their cooperation.
Prostitution Punishment Myths
Just as there are myths regarding the way that prostitution is investigated, there are myths about the ways in which people convicted of prostitution crimes are sentenced. Some of the most common myths include:
- A conviction is only possible if actual money changes hands
- Prostitution is not punished harshly
- Arranging a “date” for a prostitute and a client is not a crime
Some people may believe that accepting “gifts” before offering sexual favors does not count as prostitution or that refusing to accept money will prevent an arrest. That’s not the case in Texas. According to Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code, prostitution is defined as sexual activity in exchange for a fee. Also, the law states that offering to engage in sex for a fee or agreeing to paid sex is just as much of a crime as the actual act.
Section 43.03 of the penal code makes it clear that promoting prostitution is also a crime. Driving a prostitute to meet with a client or finding clients for a prostitute can lead to a conviction and legal penalties. Claiming that the prostitute is just a friend is not a good legal defense.
All of these crimes can be punished harshly. Although a first time conviction for prostitution may only lead to a Class B misdemeanor sentence, repeated offenses for prostitution or promotion of prostitution can lead to:
- Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony convictions
- Months or years in jail
- Thousands of dollars in fines
- Sex offender registration if some of the people involved are under the age of 18
Once these myths are cleared up, it’s plain to see that prostitution is a serious crime that can be punished harshly. Anyone who is charged with a prostitution offense can meet with an attorney to discuss possible legal defense options in the case.
If you have been charged with prostitution or soliciting a prostitute, you should get legal defense quickly. Matthew Sharp is a tough and aggressive attorney in Houston, TX that can help protect your rights. Call him today at (713) 868-6100.