As with many other criminal charges, a charge of solicitation can affect your employment, your standing in the community, and your reputation. If you’ve been charged with solicitation, then the surest way you can protect yourself is to find a quality attorney and to understand the charge and its implications.
While most states in the country take a strong stance on solicitation, Arizona’s solicitation laws are some of the harshest.
City Ordinances Against Solicitation
Nearly every municipality in the state has in place an ordinance that bans the activity. For example, the City of Phoenix City Code 23-52 identifies prostitution or soliciting an act of prostitution as a person who:
- offers to, agrees to, or commits an act of prostitution
- solicits or hires another person to commit an act of prostitution
- aids or abets the commission of any of the acts prohibited by this section
In addition to the above, solicitation can also take the form of intent to solicit if you are in a public place. For example, if you are in your motor vehicle in a public place and you show intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution, then you can be charged with solicitation.
The issue with final scenario is that one’s actions can easily be construed as solicitation. Therefore, in considering this final form of solicitation, a court will often take into consideration the circumstances, such as whether a person:
- Beckons repeatedly
- Attempts to stop passerby in conversation
- Hails motor vehicles with repeated gestures; and
- Inquires potential patrons is a police officer or requests touching or exposure of genitals or breasts
Unfortunately, despite courts taking into consideration the above circumstances, it is still easy for an officer to misconstrue a person’s actions as solicitation. Therefore, in some instances, the charge may be baseless and unwarranted.
Statewide Stance on Solicitation
Despite not having a statewide ban against solicitation, the closest charge that relates to solicitation that the state can levy against you is prostitution. Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3211 defines prostitution as “engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement with any person for money or any other valuable consideration.”
The definition of prostitution can be challenging to understand due to the terms, but it essentially means that you can be charged with prostitution if you offer, agree to, or engage sexual conduct in exchange for money or other items of worth. Also based on the definition, you can be charged with solicitation, regardless of your role as the alleged prostitute, procurer, or person requesting services.
Penalties for Solicitation Overview
Arizona allows cities to enact and enforce solicitation. Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3214, cities and towns are not prohibited from “enacting and enforcing ordinances to suppress and prohibit prostitution that provide a punishment for misdemeanor violations that is at least as stringent as provided in this section.”
That means cities and towns can enact their own laws regarding solicitation and its enforcement, so long as the penalty for the offense is at least a misdemeanor charge. The exception to the misdemeanor charge rule is offending the solicitation law more than three times or when a minor is involved, in which case, the minimum charge is a felony.
Offense Based Solicitation of a Prostitute Penalties
Those who are accused of soliciting a prostitute are penalized based upon their number of offenses. The advantage of offense based penalties is that it deters first and second time offenders from repeated actions because the penalties increase with severity as one continues to offend.
In addition to being charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, those charged are also penalized with jail time. Here are the penalties based on the number of offenses under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3214:
- 15 consecutive days in jail for a first offense
- 30 consecutive days in jail for a second offense
- 60 consecutive days in jail for a third offense
If you’ve violated the solicitation law more than three times, then you can be charged with a class 5 felony. As a result of the class five felony, you will be required to serve no less than 180 consecutive days in jail and you will not be eligible for parole until the entire sentence is served.
It is also useful to keep in mind that in addition to the misdemeanor or felony charge and jail time, those who are convicted of solicitation may also be subject to paying a fine of $2,500 or more.
Defenses for Solicitation in Arizona
If you’ve been charged with solicitation in Arizona, your attorney may attempt to raise the defense of entrapment.
Entrapment is when an officer induces a person to commit a criminal offense. Entrapment is an “affirmative defense,” which means that the defendant must prove the defense for it to be effective. To prove entrapment, your attorney needs to provide proof that:
- The officer urged or induced the individual to commit solicitation;
- The idea of solicitation did not arise with the defendant, but with the officer; and
- But for the officer’s actions, the person would not have committed solicitation
If the entrapment defense does not apply in your case, it could be possible the officer did not follow procedural rules and your case may be dismissed for constitutional violations. For example, it may be the case that the officer did not read you your Miranda rights or did not ask for your consent or attain a warrant before searching your vehicle.
Tyler Allen Law Firm
If you’ve been charged with solicitation, then your best course of action is to have a quality Phoenix criminal defense lawyer on your side. At Tyler Allen Law Firm, our attorneys are able to assess your case and provide you with the strategy and defenses that you need for a positive outcome. We work with you to defend your rights and your reputation. Fill out our contact form or reach us at 602-456-0545.