The criminal offense of Solicitation of Prostitution is a second degree misdemeanor. Normally, a second degree misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of sixty (60) days and a five hundred dollar ($500) fine. However, effective 2013, the Florida legislature changed the fine for soliciting a prostitute to a mandatory five thousand dollar ($5,000) fine. According to this relatively new law, a judge has no discretion. The fine that is required to be imposed is five thousand dollars ($5,000).
To put things into perspective, five thousand dollars ($5,000) is the maximum and not required fine for offenses such as Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Robbery by Sudden Snatching, Grand Theft, Possession of Child Pornography, Aggravated Stalking, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer, Child Abuse and Battery Causing Great Bodily Harm. Most would consider the aforementioned list of criminal offenses as more serious than Solicitation of Prostitution.
Recently, a court in Florida agreed. That Court found the mandatory fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000) as unreasonable and excessive when considering the nature of the underlying criminal offense of hiring a hooker. The Court declared the mandatory fine unconstitutional. This finding, that the predetermined fine for solicitation is unconstitutionally disproportionate, will be appealed; in fact the Court requested that the appeals court reexamine the matter via a certified question.
All criminal offenses are serious and you should not fight the government alone. If you or a loved one are charged with Solicitation, or any other criminal or traffic matter, then call, click or fill out the form at the top right of the page for a consultation.
State v. Cotton, FLWSUPP 2109COTT
Updated blog regarding the $5,000 civil penalty