Solicitation of prostitution is illegal in forty nine (49) states including Florida. Florida Statutes section 796.07(2)(f) declares it unlawful to “solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation”. The legislature recently enhanced the punishments for engaging or soliciting a prostitute and instituted a mandatory civil penalty of $5,000.
Prior to the amendment, a first violation was a second degree misdemeanor which in Florida is the lowest degree offense. Normally, a second degree misdemeanor is punishable by sixty (60) days and a fine of not more than $500. This means that the supposed civil penalty was ten times the normal maximum. This increased penalty was attacked as a fine subject to the excessive fines clause and cruel and unusual analysis.
In December 2015, one appellate court found the civil penalty constitutional after analyzing it as fine. In February 2016, another appellate court found the penalty constitutional but also considered it a fine because it is punishment. Practically this means that no trial court would go against two appeal courts. Until the Supreme Court of Florida or the United States says something different, this relatively new fine for solicitation is here to stay.
This could mean that fighting an accusation of solicitation just became all that more worth the financial investment that a trial brings. Maybe there will be more deferred prosecution or pre-trial intervention agreements in our future.
Either way if someone is accused of soliciting a prostitute, they should not fight the government alone. Please click, call or fill out the form to speak to a criminal defense lawyer.
Florida Statutes section 796.07
State v. Cotton
State v. Jones
December 2015 blog regarding fine for solicitation
August 2014 blog regarding fine for solicitation