There is an increasing tendency in society to view prostitution as a crime of exploitation, so this offense is receiving more serious attention, especially with regard to crimes connected to prostitution such as promotion of prostitution.
The penalties for prostitution in Pennsylvania become increasingly severe with subsequent convictions, so it makes sense to take all available measures to avoid a conviction. In order to understand how a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer can help, it is useful to understand the laws involved as well as the corresponding penalties.
For the basic crime of prostitution, there are two factors that increase the penalties. The first is the existence of prior convictions. Potential penalties increase for each subsequent offense until they reach a fairly high threshold.
The second factor that will increase penalties for a prostitution offense is the knowledge that the person undertaking the actions has tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or manifests the symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). When someone engages in prostitution knowing that they are HIV positive, the offense becomes a felony.
Those convicted of a first or second offense for engaging in prostitution will be considered to have committed a third-degree misdemeanor. They may be fined up to $2,500 and sentenced to up to one year in jail.
When someone is convicted of prostitution for the third time, the offense is treated as a second degree misdemeanor. The potential penalties double, so the maximum fine becomes $5,000 and the maximum term of imprisonment increases to two years.
For a fourth or subsequent conviction, the crime of prostitution is treated as a first-degree misdemeanor, and the penalties increase to a level which would cause this crime to be classified as a felony in many other jurisdictions. Anyone convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania may be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Those convicted of felony prostitution for engaging in prostitution or solicitation with the knowledge that they are HIV positive face up to seven years in prison and may be fined as much as $15,000. Because these penalties are so severe, anyone accused of prostitution could benefit from the services of a Pennsylvania prostitution lawyer.
The definition of prostitution in the Pennsylvania criminal code is somewhat old-fashioned sounding. A person may be convicted of prostitution if they either:
Under the statutes, a “house of prostitution” is defined as any location where one person carries out prostitution or promotion of prostitution under the supervision of another person. An inmate is considered to be anyone who engages in prostitution either in or through such a house.
It is important to understand that an arrest for prostitution does not necessarily need to result in a conviction. An experienced Pennsylvania prostitution lawyer may be able to use many different defense strategies in a particular case. In addition, very often skilled criminal attorneys can advocate and negotiate on behalf of clients to obtain a reduction or dismissal of charges.
For a free case evaluation to learn how a knowledgeable prostitution defense attorney can help with your case, call our office now.