It is known as the oldest profession. In some countries—even in a few counties in one state in our own nation—it is a legal commercial exchange in which services are provided in exchange for monetary payment. To many, it is seen as a victimless crime. However, throughout Oklahoma and most of the United States, prostitution is a crime, strictly prohibited under all conditions.
Prostitution and solicitation are typically prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses; however, certain prostitution-related crimes, including pandering or "pimping" and human trafficking are felony crimes. Regardless of whether or not the offense is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, conviction has a serious, long-lasting impact. In addition to criminal penalties including jail or prison and significant fines, collateral consequences create tremendous hardships. Relationships are destroyed, reputations are ruined, and a criminal record can permanently affect one's rights and privileges.
With a knowledgeable and skillful defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to minimize or avoid the consequences of conviction. Careful defense strategies, painstaking attention to the details of your arrest and evidence, and a willingness to explore every avenue for defense can mean the difference between conviction and a dismissal or acquittal of your criminal charge.
Prostitution and Solicitation
Oklahoma state law defines prostitution as sexual intercourse or any other sex act with a person who is not one's spouse in exchange for money or other item of value. It also includes making an appointment to engage in such activity as prostitution.
Oklahoma law prohibits prostitution and solicitation of prostitution under 21 O.S. § 1029. According to the statute, it is unlawful to:
- Engage in prostitution
- Solicit prostitution
- Enter or remain in any building, vehicle, or other place with the purpose of engaging in prostitution
- Aid prostitution
The penalties are the same for both engaging in prostitution and soliciting prostitution, and the mere attempt to engage in prostitution is enough for a criminal charge, whether or not any commercial sexual activity actually occurs. Prostitution is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 on the first offense. However, subsequent offenses garner heavier fines: $5,000 for a second offense and $7,500 for a third or subsequent offense.
However, if the act occurs within 1,000 feet of a school or a church, prostitution and solicitation become felonies punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
If a person knowingly infected with HIV, the AIDS virus, engages in prostitution, the crime is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Because prostitution is secretive, it is unknown how many children are victims of child prostitution in the United States, and estimates vary widely. However, FBI research includes some shocking statistics. They report, for example, that the average age of entry into prostitution is only 12 years old.
Oklahoma law defines child prostitution as any act of prostitution involving a minor under the age of 16. It is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offense.
Commercial sex acts by anyone under the age of 18 is strictly prohibited by law. Anyone engaging in prostitution at age 16 or 17 is assumed to be a victim of coercion in violation of the state's human trafficking statute.
As defined by Oklahoma statutes, human trafficking is the forcing of another person to perform labor or sex acts by means of coercion, threats, violence, abuse, blackmail, destruction or concealment of identification, or other means. According to 21 O.S. § 748, "'Human trafficking' means modern-day slavery that includes, but is not limited to, extreme exploitation and the denial of freedom or liberty of an individual for purposes of deriving benefit from that individual's commercial sex act or labor." As stated above, although the age of legal consent to sexual intercourse is 16 under most conditions, prostitution, stripping, and commercial sex acts are not among those conditions. Anyone under the age of 18 who engages in prostitution, regardless of seeming consent, is considered to be a victim of human trafficking.
Pandering or Pimping
Procuring a prostitute, often called pandering or pimping, is a felony that carries a penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $9,000 depending upon whether the "pimp" is convicted of a first offense or subsequent offense.
Pandering includes the following acts:
- Procuring any other person for prostitution,
- Using promises, threats, or violence to induce another person to become a prostitute
- Procuring a place for a person as an inmate in a house of prostitution
- Using promises, threats, or violence to persuade a person to remain as an inmate in a house of prostitution
- To induce a person into prostitution through fraud, deception, or abuse of authority
- To accept or give any money or other thing of value for attempting to procure any other person as an inmate of a house of prostitution
Other pandering-related offenses include:
Prostitution Defense in Oklahoma
Whether you are charged with misdemeanor solicitation or federal sex trafficking, you face significant legal and personal challenges. At Phillips & Associates, we are not here to judge you, but to defend your constitutional rights and privileges by offering exceptional legal representation. To find out how we can help, call (405) 418-8888 or submit our confidential case review form. Act now to get the experienced legal counsel you need for the optimal result.