Certain actions are crimes for everyone involved, even if no one is a victim. Some people refer to these kinds of criminal offenses as consensual crimes. The sale of illegal drugs from one person to another is a form of consensual crime. Neither person is experiencing threat or direct harm by the other, and they engage in a volitional exchange of resources.
However, because the sale and possession of illegal drugs is against the law, both the person making the sale and the person purchasing the drugs could find themselves subject to criminal consequences. The same is true for prostitution under the law in Florida. All forms of prostitution, which involve sexual physical contact for financial gain, violate the state law.
The individual who procures those services, as well as the person who provides them, could find themselves facing criminal charges as a result of a voluntary transaction between two consenting adults. Educating yourself more about the consequences involved can help you determine how to handle any pending charges you or someone you love could face related to solicitation.
You don’t have to engage in physical contact to face charges
In most criminal cases, the person facing charges will have followed through with the commission of a crime. However, in certain circumstances, the attempt or intent to commit a crime can be adequate reason for the courts to charge and even convict someone.
To once again compare solicitation to drug offenses, for example, it is possible for someone who has never sold an illicit substance to face intent to distribute charges if they have a large amount of the substance and tools intended to repackage and sell those illegal drugs. Similarly, individuals accused of solicitation do not have to be caught in the act of physical intimacy with a sex worker.
Instead, they only have to attempt to engage with another person for that purpose. Law enforcement officers can and do conduct stings where officers or informants posing as sex workers obtain evidence but do not follow through with the proposed prostitution. If you get caught attempting to negotiate a price or paying someone for sexual contact, that alone could be grounds for solicitation charges under Florida law.
The penalties you face will depend on a variety of factors
As with most offenses, first-time offenders accused of solicitation typically face fewer criminal consequences than those who have a previous conviction for a similar offense on their record. First-time solicitation charges in Florida can carry up to a year in jail, a year of probation and fines of up to $1,000. First offenses typically result in misdemeanor charges, whereas second and subsequent offenses will typically result in felony criminal charges.
A second solicitation offense could result in up to five years of prison or probation, the loss of your vehicle for up to 60 days and fines of as much as $5,000. Third offenses could carry a fine of as much as $10,000 and up to 15 years of incarceration or probation. Obviously, those consequences are severe and warrant a proactive response.
Although some people may quickly plead guilty out of embarrassment and the hope of avoiding a trial, a conviction will stay on your criminal record and impact you for the indefinite future. Pushing back against solicitation charges can reduce the potential social and criminal consequences that the accused party faces.