Recent events in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery highlight the importance of strong criminal defense. In all three cases, the police busted what they claim are prostitution rings and arrested several people. In fact, the police arrested 17 people in Tuscaloosa and 10 in Montgomery. Reports state that undercover police contacted the defendants via the internet or simply met them on the streets.
Currently, the crime of engaging in prostitution is a misdemeanor in Alabama, meaning that the punishment for such a crime is less than one year. However, there is a push within the Alabama legislature to increase the punishment to a felony so those convicted would face serious jail time. As such, it is crucial to have the proper defense when facing such a crime.
Alabama Criminal Code
The Alabama Criminal Code states: “No person shall commit an act of prostitution as defined in Section 13A-12-120…No person shall solicit, compel, or coerce any person to have sexual intercourse or participate in any natural or unnatural sexual act, deviate sexual intercourse, or sexual contact for monetary consideration or other thing of marketable value.”
When facing prostitution charges, your lawyer should pose proper defenses against the charges. One defense is a lack of intent. To be guilty of soliciting prostitution, a person must have specific intent to engage in the illegal act. A prosecutor is burdened with proving that the defendant had such intent. If someone is lost in a neighborhood and asks a person for directions, even if that person is a prostitute, the person asking for directions did not commit a crime. The prostitute may not have committed a crime, either. If the police did not hear the conversation between the two then the prosecutor likely does not have a case. Simple hand gestures between them does not mean that anyone broke the law.
Another defense is that there was no exchange of payment. The statute explicitly requires that there be compensation in exchange for sex. If there is no exchange of compensation, then there is no crime. If the defendant counters that there was no exchange of money, then the prosecution has the burden of proving such an exchange.
A third defense is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when police behavior is so overbearing that it compels a normally law-abiding citizen to break the law. Police and other law enforcement often create sting operations to ensnare people. Police often pose as undercover prostitutes or pimps in an attempt to lure people into traps. Note that to raise this defense the defendant must demonstrate that the police behavior was overbearing. Facts and circumstances will dictate whether the police tactics were simply pressure or if it was overbearing. A defendant who says no numerous times to an undercover police officer but, due to the mounting pressure, eventually succumbs to that pressure may be able to raise an entrapment defense.
If you have been accused of a crime, contact a law firm with the experience and skill to defend your rights. Contact the Alabama criminal defense firm of Parkman White.