Soliciting a Prostitute: How Much Trouble Are You In?
Ten men were arrested in Reno recently in a sting operation that targeted customers soliciting prostitutes. As part of that operation, two female undercover police officers disguised as prostitutes walked the streets over the course of five hours. When men approached them offering money for sex, the men were arrested.
Penalties for solicitation under Nevada law
In Nevada, solicitation of prostitution, that is, offering or agreeing to engage in an act involving prostitution, is viewed as the same as prostitution itself. Both offenses are misdemeanors, with the following punishments:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $1,000 fine
Note that anyone convicted of solicitation or prostitution is required to take a test for the presence of the HIV virus. The results, if positive, are sent to the court and also to the alleged offender’s home by certified mail.
As in the recent Reno operation, most arrests for solicitation or prostitution are done through a sting operation, with a female officer pretending to be a prostitute or a male officer pretending to be a potential customer. The result is that the evidence tends to be the officer’s word against that of the alleged customer or prostitute. In this situation, the challenge is raising one of the following defenses:
There is nothing illegal about an officer’s pretending to be a prostitute in order to uncover illegal activity. It is, however, considered entrapment to pressure someone into soliciting a prostitute. For example, if an undercover officer induced an innocent person to make her an offer for sex only after spiking his drink or getting him drunk, that could be considered entrapment, especially if the person had no prior history of solicitation.
This can happen when a customer of a massage parlor wants only a massage, and is surprised when the masseuse begins discussing sexual activity. There was no agreement, only a mistake.
Lack of an overt act
Solicitation requires a specific overt act, that is, a clear agreement that the customer wants sex from the prostitute. If there is no such clarity, there has been no overt agreement.
If you have been arrested on charges of solicitation, you need the services of an experienced Reno criminal defense attorney to raise these defenses or to plea-bargain your case down to a lesser charge.