Category: Prostitution

This past Fall, the District of Columbia, was placed center stage on one of the most divisive topics – the decriminalization of sex work. D.C. proposed the Reducing Criminalization of Commercial Sex Amendment Act of 2019 to D.C. Council.

The controversial topic is being viewed as an alternative solution for mitigating the negative impacts prostitution has on communities. In Washington D.C. specifically, the rates of sex-related charges have nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, with a jump from 228 cases to 551 cases, respectively.

Different Models

When it comes to combating prostitution, there are three main schools of thought within the context of modern society. The first is what most of the world, including the overwhelming majority of the United States, operates under, which is complete criminalization. This applies to those providing the service, as well as those who are attempting to purchase the service.

Currently, in Washington D.C., the law states that the first offense results in a $500 fine, 90 days imprisonment, or both. A second offense carries the weight of a $1,000 fine, 180 days imprisonment, or both. If there is a third offense or more, this will result in a $12,500 fine, two years imprisonment, or both. These values and term sentences are relatively on par with the rest of the country when it comes to sex work-related cases.

Another model used is the Nordic Model. Named for its regional origin, this model was first implemented in Sweden before being propagated to many other countries in the European Union. The Nordic Model attempts to take a feminist, victim-centric arc on sex work by decriminalizing the sale of services, but continued criminalization of its purchasing.

The idea is that sex work is a trade that victimizes its participants, by legalizing its sale, sex workers do not have to worry about their work being held against them as they move on in their lives. On the flip side, it disincentivizes the continued facilitation of this trade via the act of soliciting sex workers.

Since being implemented in Sweden, its Interior Ministry has reported a near halving of prostitution. The nation represents the country with the highest cost for prostitution.

The third most common system is complete decriminalization. This model, used in places like New Zealand and Denmark, is an attempt to bring the practice more above ground. It has allowed sex workers to organize for higher pay and benefits such as health insurance. This has legitimized the practice as a true industry and trade within the economy. By decriminalizing, this provides less incentive for trafficking because the trade itself can be conducted above board.

Decriminalization is far from a perfect system. It perpetuates a narrative of sexism within society that not just normalizes but codifies the right men have over women by extending legality towards the purchasing of their bodies simply for gratification.

Additionally, there is no substantial evidence indicating decriminalization lowers the amount of prostitution or lowers the amount of sex trafficking. Instead, its nature simply changes. Now, the law provides cover for brothels to open and bring in women from abroad under the perception they are independent entrepreneurs who come to work willingly.

Washington D.C. Current Situation & Proposed Amendment

Almost identical to an attempt made by Councilmen Grosso in 2017, this most recent bill attempts to tackle the rise in sex-related crimes in D.C. by taking a decriminalization approach to both those selling and purchasing sex work.

Known as the Reducing Criminalization of Commercial Sex Amendment Act of 2019, this second attempt comes with 3 co-authors, raising the profile and legitimacy of this attempt.

The bill comes at a time when the rate of sex-work arrests is rising inside D.C. As a response, the Mayor’s office has attempted to stem the tide through the establishment of the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. The organization is designed to implement arrest diversion programs for those convicted of sex work.

Metropolitan Police, in conjunction with federal authorities, have also been cracking down on various web services commonly used in soliciting prostitution, including sites like Backpage, and even Craigslist. Some believe these actions are in poor judgment and are making the situation worse for many involved in the trade.

Sex Workers Advocates Coalition, a special-interest group working in the D.C. area, has expressed concerns regarding such an approach. Alicia Gill, a spokeswoman for the group, expressed issue with the underlying nature of the diversion program, as it relies on people being arrested and entered into the criminal justice system with a sex-work related crime on their record. This practice harms both consenting adults engaged in sex work but also penalizes victims of trafficking.

Instead, the group is in support of decriminalization, but they are not in favor of this current bill. The coalition, along with various other groups and individuals, even those who approve of decriminalization, have been disappointed in the lack of services provided to those victimized under the current version of the bill. The bill does not include provisions to automatically expunge the criminal records of those involved in sex work, which is a crucial factor the organization feels needs to be included.

Dissenting Special-Interest Groups

Sex Workers Advocates Coalition is far from the only dissenting special-interest group opposing the bill. Courtney’s House and Rights for Girls, two other highly vocal and relevant organizations, have expressed their opposition to the bill.

Felicia Henry, a spokeswoman for Courtney’s House, noted the bill proposes nothing substantive to provide support for those harmed by the industry, nor does it adequately stem the tide of the growing sex industry in the District.

Yasmin Vafa of Rights for Girls prefers partial decriminalization paired with support programs for trafficking victims as an alternative. In either case, it is clear the Reducing Criminalization of Commercial Sex Amendment Act of 2019, remains highly unfavorable among both the constituents and special-interest groups of Washington, D.C.

Over the past decade, an unconventional method of dating, known as sugaring, has become more and more popular. Sugaring is when a younger woman and an older, wealthy man form a relationship where the man, the sugar daddy, gives the woman, the sugar baby, money and gifts in exchange for the time they spend together.

The phenomenon often draws comparisons to prostitution. Both prostitution and sugaring involve exchanging money for intimate services. While sugaring does not always include sexual acts, it is often part of the arrangement. Those who are involved in sugaring often differentiate between prostitution and sugaring by emphasizing the dating aspect of sugaring. They say that prostitution is flat out exchanging money for sex, and being a sugar baby is more similar to being in a consensual, adult relationship where your partner supports you financially.

Can you be charged with prostitution for engaging in sugaring?

This grey area begs an important question: Can you be charged with prostitution or solicitation for engaging in sugaring? 

Many websites that facilitate the formation of these mutually beneficial relationships ensure to use specific language to skirt legal liability and have strict policies against advertising sex in exchange for money. Despite this, the main investor behind RichMeetBeautiful, a sugar daddy dating site, was convicted of promoting prostitution in Belgium where prostitution is legal, but related activities, such as soliciting and pimping, are illegal.

According to Washington D.C.’s legal code, prostitution is defined as a sexual act or contact with another person in return for giving or receiving anything of value. Under this definition, it would not be difficult to charge someone with prostitution or solicitation due to the broad parameters for what acts are prohibited and what can be exchanged in the relationship to constitute a violation of the law.

In Maryland’s criminal code, prostitution is defined as the performance of a sexual act, sexual contact, or vaginal intercourse for hire. Here, the use of the term “for hire” could insinuate a clear and strict contract between the two parties, which may make it more difficult to successfully prosecute someone for prostitution or solicitation for engaging in a sugaring relationship.

FOSTA and SESTA

Fosta (Fight Online Sex Traffic Act) and SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) was signed into law by President Trump in 2018. Previously owners of websites were not legally responsible for the actions of their site users. However, under this new law, every site or online platform will be held liable for hosting anything on their website that the law describes as prostitution. 

Sugaring - Prostitution or Dating?

The law will affect how sugar daddy sites operate, but this will not be the end of sugar dating. The sites will need to prove that they are taking significant measures to prevent sex trafficking and prostitution. It’s not just sugar daddy sites, but also other dating sites that will have to implement security to screen for prostitution-related language.

If you’re involved in a sugar relationship and concerned that it could be perceived as solicitation, ensure that the relationship develops naturally and includes aspects other than sexual encounters to emphasize the differences from prostitution.

If you have been charged with solicitation or prostitution based on a misunderstanding of your sugar relationship, contact Bruckheim & Patel to have one of our criminal defense lawyers in Maryland and the District of Columbia provide a free, confidential evaluation of your case.

As recently reported in The New York Times, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, had a major victory in court this month regarding charges of soliciting a prostitute. Judge Leonard Hanser granted Kraft’s motion to suppress video evidence of the alleged act detailed by the prosecution. With this video evidence no longer admissible in court, the prosecution has been dealt a serious, potentially fatal blow. The Judge concurred with Kraft’s counsel that the way the video evidence was obtained did not satisfy constitutional guidelines regarding the privacy of the customers and therefore must be suppressed. The Judge went a step further, finding the search on Kraft’s car to have been an unconstitutional search, requiring that evidence to be suppressed as well. As a result of these motions being granted, the prosecutors have delayed their prosecution indefinitely while they appeal the motion to suppress.

The Most Useful Tool For An Effective Defense

A motion to suppress evidence is one of the most useful tools an effective defense team has at its disposal. If a motion to suppress is granted, it can result in a dramatically different outcome or even the dismissal of a case. So, when is a motion to suppress granted and what exactly is this motion? A motion to suppress is a motion to exclude certain evidence from trial. Such a motion is often used when evidence is obtained illegally or is in violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. A motion to suppress can be understood as the enforcement mechanism behind what is known as the exclusionary rule, which is a rule that states evidence obtained illegally must be excluded from trial. Excluding illegally obtained evidence follows along with the themes of due process of law and fourth amendment rights to be free from unlawful searches and seizures that can be found in the United States Constitution.

When To Exclude And How To Know If You Can

So, how do you know if you have a valid claim to exclude evidence from trial if you find yourself in a similar situation? To be honest, it can be a very complex legal question. In Robert Kraft’s case, his defense counsel was able to pinpoint those exact violations in a way that was convincing to the judge which compelled him to grant the motions to suppress. Effective counsel that is experienced in such matters can be the difference between a conviction and total dismissal of a case, as Robert Kraft may soon find out first hand if the prosecution decides to dismiss the matter. Something as simple as this procedural motion can derail an otherwise meritorious case against an individual if executed properly. It is therefore critical to obtain counsel that is proficient in the strategy of criminal litigation.

Contact An Experienced Defense Team Today

If you have been accused or charged with solicitation of prostitution in Washington, DC or Maryland, contact Bruckheim & Patel for a free, confidential evaluation of your case.

Solicitation is the act of enticing, inviting, or persuading someone to agree to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money. In the District of Columbia, being charged with Solicitation of Prostitution can carry serious consequences. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department has wide ranging powers at their disposal to arrest people suspected of solicitation and prostitution. Among the most effective means the MPD uses are sting operations. The sting operations MPD uses are legal. Officers can legally ask someone to discuss or engage in illegal behavior as well. Because of this, many people believe entering into an entrapment defense would be the best defense available. However, the DC solicitation attorneys at Bruckheim& Patel know this could do more harm than good.

Solicitation carries stiff penalties if convicted. This is why it is important to use an experienced legal team to combat these charges. Each solicitation conviction carries with it bigger penalties. The first solicitation conviction has a penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. The second offense carries up to 135 days in jail and/or a $750 fine. A third or subsequent convictions have the potential to be very extreme with jail time of up to two years and/or a fine of $12,500. Furthermore, these punishments can be enhanced if the incident occurred with a person under the age of 18 or if they are in “prostitution free zones” which are located throughout the district.

Entrapment is the circumstance in which a law enforcement officer persuades or convinces a person to commit a criminal act that the person would not have otherwise committed. However, pursuant to the law, a police officer merely asking for or discussing illegal acts is not enough to prove entrapment. Instead, the defendant must prove, using evidence, that the law enforcement officer induced the behavior. Next, the government must show the defendant was willing to solicit. This can be done through prior conversations, exchanges of money, or going to a different location with a specific intent. By entering into an entrapment defense, it places the burden on the defendant to prove the law enforcement officers illegally induced them to engage in solicitation. Furthermore, while prior criminal history and character evidence is not normally admissible in trial, with an entrapment defense it is permitted to be admitted at trial against the defendant. This is another inherent hazard of this strategy as a person’s history can be used against them.

Due to these reasons, an entrapment defense might not be the best defense for you. Discussing your options with an experienced DC solicitation attorney is your best option to combat these charges and avoid stiff fines and jail times. Crafting the right defense, whether or not it’s an entrapment defense, is essential to the likelihood of a positive outcome at your trail. The legal team at Bruckheim& Patel has vast experience and an amazing record of success with this type of charge, and will work to get the best possible outcome for you. Call for a free confidential consultation at 202-930-3464.

Being charged with prostitution or solicitation can be nerve-wracking. Not only does the charge have serious penalties, it also exposes you to societal stigma and public embarrassment. The charge can harm both your professional and personal life. An experienced DC solicitation and DC prostitution attorney can work with you to decrease the negative consequences and achieve the best outcome to the charge.

Prostitution vs. Solicitation

When one person offers sexual contact in exchange for money and the other accepts, both parties can be charged with criminal offenses. The person offering the sexual contact can be charged with prostitution. The person accepting the offer can be arrested for solicitation.

To be technical, the DC Code defines prostitution as the act of giving or receiving sexual contact in exchange for money. Solicitation of prostitution is defined as the act of enticing, inviting or persuading someone to agree to have sex in exchange for money.

Many people find themselves in court for solicitation of prostitution after being nabbed in undercover sting operations. If this has happened to you, you need the advice of an experienced DC solicitation attorney.

DC Undercover Police Operations

Many people are arrested for solicitation of prostitution when the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department engage in sting operations focused solely on prostitution/solicitation.

A common sting involves an undercover police placing advertisements on online websites such as Backpage.com or Craigslist.com where they chat, exchange messages and make phone calls with unsuspecting people. The undercover officer and the unsuspecting respondent will then meet in a hotel where the two agree on a price for sex. As soon as an agreement is struck, the undercover police signal her colleagues who charge in and arrest the person for solicitation of prostitution.

Possible Charges For Solicitation In DC

Under Washington DC law, a first conviction for solicitation of prostitution carries a maximum sentence of ninety (90) days in jail and/or a $500 fine. A second solicitation conviction carries a maximum of one hundred and thirty-five (135) days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. A third solicitation conviction carries a maximum of one hundred and eighty (180) days in prison and/or a fine of $1,000.

More Prostitution-Related Charges

DC Police have also earmarked some places as “Prostitution Free Zones.” If the solicitation or prostitution arrests occur in any of these places, the penalties are enhanced. This crime carries a potential 180-day jail sentence and/or a $300 fine.

DC laws also make it illegal to recruit or compel persons into prostitution or to run a prostitution house.

Furthermore, DC laws make it illegal to entice children (under 18 years old) into prostitution or to abduct children for prostitution-related purposes. Such an offense carries a maximum sentence of twenty (20) years and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.

There are defenses to each of these charges. For example, in solicitation, you can argue that the police jumped the gun by arresting you before an agreement was struck. You can also argue entrapment, that the police arrested you even though you were not seeking sexual favors or that you only sought non-sexual services such as a massage.

With the help of an experienced DC solicitation lawyer, you or someone you know who has been arrested for solicitation of prostitution or a prostitution-related offense can clear their names and be free from the damaging accusations.

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In what has been touted as the biggest sex scandal to rock the District in the past decade, the “DC Madam” was back in the news this summer due to recent events relating to the solicitation organization’s phone records.

The DC Madam’s Prostitution Business

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, dubbed the “DC Madam” by the press, ran a high-end DC prostitution operation called “Pamela Martin & Associates.” The business was targeted toward the affluent men who resided and worked in the District. The solicitation clients, who included Washington elite and prominent residents, were promised complete discretion and anonymity.

Pamela Martin & Associates was in business for thirteen years. In that time, the business made over two million dollars from its solicitation services, with each escort bringing in approximately three hundred dollars an hour. Half of the money made by the escort was mailed to Palfrey, who resided in California.

Vanity Fair reported in 2008 that Palfrey had required her employees at Pamela Martin & Associates to dress professionally in sensible heels and non-flashy jewelry, to be punctual, and to refrain from alcohol and drugs while meeting with solicitation clients. Further, each of the employees of the prostitution business had to be over twenty-three years old, have college degrees, and have day jobs. Records determined that, among the escorts, there was: a secretary from the corporate law firm Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld, a financial consultant, a real-estate agent, and a former professor from the University of Maryland.

Police Bust The DC Prostitution Organization

Court records indicate that law enforcement officials began investigating Palfrey’s business in 2004. In October 2006, the United States Postal Service Inspection Service froze her bank accounts, and law enforcement officials searched her properties and seized documents relating to prostitution charges and money laundering.

Palfrey was tried in U.S. District Court on federal charges arising from her prostitution business. The initial charges against her brought a sentence of a maximum of fifty-five years in prison. At Palfrey’s trial, thirteen former escorts and three former clients were compelled to testify against her after being granted immunity by the government.

At trial, the federal court found that the evidence was sufficient to support the determination that she was running an illegal prostitution business. She was convicted on April 15, 2008 with charges that brought a maximum sentence of five to six years.

Two weeks after her conviction, Palfrey committed suicide by hanging outside of her mother’s mobile home in Florida. Her death resulted in the vacating of her conviction.

2007 Release Of Prostitution Records

Prior to her conviction, Palfrey and her attorney released four months of the organization’s phone records to ABC News. The released records outed solicitation clients like pentagon advisor Harlan Ullman, Secretary of State deputy Randall Tobias, and Senator David Vitter.

Soon after the release of these records in 2007, the court imposed a restraining order preventing Palfrey and her attorneys from releasing any further phone records from the DC solicitation business. This restraining order also pertains to subpoenaed records from Verizon Wireless, which provided Palfrey and her attorney with the names, addresses, and social security numbers of the account holders for 817 of the phone numbers that called the prostitution ring.

DC Madam In Recent News

Recently, Palfrey’s former attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, has brought the DC Madam’s prostitution ring back in the news. Sibley, who has been called an “eccentric litigator,” recently filed a motion in U.S. District Court in DC requesting the lifting of the 2007 restraining order. That motion contains the names of 174 of the entities that Sibley claims called the prostitution business from 2000-2006. The list of organizations includes: the archdiocese, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, the Embassy of Japan, Hewlett-Packard, Washington Gas, several large law firms, and many other organizations and businesses.

Sidley says that he wishes to release the full records now because they are relevant to the upcoming 2016 presidential election. He claims that keeping the Verizon Wireless records from the public view deprives him of his constitutional First Amendment right of publication. The United States District Court denied his request on the basis that Sibley, who has since been suspended from practicing law, had no legal right to hold the solicitation business’s records because Palfrey had fired him prior to her trial. In response, Sibley filed a personal lawsuit against both the former Chief Judge and the Chief Judge’s clerk for one million dollars each for failing to file his motion to lift the restraining order. Sibley also appealed to the United States Supreme Court, who denied his application.

It is unlikely that even DC will ever see a story as salacious as that of the DC Madam’s solicitation ring. There is nothing that DC likes more than the combination of prostitution, politics, and scandal. It is therefore not surprising that it continues to resurface in the news every few years. As it looks like the Supreme Court has put this recent request to bed, it will be interesting to see how it resurfaces next.

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Prosecutors carry a tremendous amount of power. The prosecutor’s office determines who will be charged with an offense, what offenses the criminal justice system will focus on prosecuting, and often what sentence the accused individuals will receive. But, as Voltaire – and Spiderman – acknowledged: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Therefore, a prosecutor blatantly violating the very law for which he zealously prosecutes others on a daily basis is downright offensive.

The Example of Stuart Dunnings

Stuart Dunnings has been the top prosecutor in Ingam County Michigan for almost 20 years. For the past decade, Dunnings and his office explicitly focused on cracking down on the commercial sex industry by imposing harsher sanctions on both johns and prostitutes. In 2001, the Ingam County prosecutor’s office began impounding johns’ vehicles in conjunction with their arrests and has been charging third offenses as felonies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schusette described Dunnings as an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution.”

Shocking Display of Hypocrisy And Irony

However, beginning in 2015, an investigation by a combined team of the Michigan State Office of the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Ingham County Sherriff’s Office conducted a probe into Michigan’s “human trafficking” (prostitution) ring. During the investigation, they uncovered a shocking display of hypocrisy and irony: Ingam County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings has paid to have sex with prostitutes hundreds of times. It was not just a one-time occurrence. The records suggest that Dunnings used escort websites to find dozens upon dozens of prostitutes and paid for sex hundreds of times amongst three counties from 2010-2015. There is even evidence that his brother, Michigan attorney Steven Dunnings, also engaged in prostitution activities.

On Monday, March 14, 2016, Dunnings was charged with fifteen counts spanning four different courts in three different Michigan counties. The charges include: (1) 10 misdemeanor counts of engaging the services of a prostitute; (2) four misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty by an elected official (by blatantly violating the law that he swore an oath to uphold); and (3) one felony count of pandering.

Pandering Charge Displaying True Colors

The pandering felony count is definitely the most interesting charge against Dunnings. Pandering – commonly known as “pimping” – occurs when an individual induces or persuades a woman to “become” a prostitute. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.455. The facts behind this charge are downright disturbing. Apparently, a domestic violence victim had come to Dunnings for help regarding a custody dispute. Dunnings allegedly coerced this woman into having sex with him and then paid her for it. According to the police, the woman initially did not accept but was worn down and eventually did accept because she felt she had no choice but to accept. For the next couple years, Dunnings continued to pay her about $1200 a month. Apparently, that is how much the top prosecutor thought a domestic violence victim was worth. These disgusting actions were happening while Dunnings was simultaneously putting “criminals” behind bars for much less serious offenses.

Possible Sentencing Could Have Serious Repercussions

The amount of hypocrisy and chutzpah required for such a feat would almost be impressive— if it wasn’t so disgusting. The pandering charge on its own carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. If he is convicted on all charges, Dunnings can face a maximum sentence of 26.5 years in prison. I can only imagine that some of his fellow inmates will have a few strong words for the prosecutor when he shows up at the prison.

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In October 2015, Lamar Odom was found face down, unconscious, and foaming at the mouth. He was transported to a hospital and spent days in a coma caused by a supposed drug overdose. Odom, of Kardashian fame (just kidding, basketball fans), spent days on life support before miraculously recovering. However, the real story here is where he was found: in a Nevada brothel called the “Love Ranch.”

Lamar Odom slipped into a coma after a four-day long prostitution binge at the Love Ranch, one of the best-known brothels in Nevada. The Love Ranch is located approximately 75 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Dennis Hof runs the Love Shack and six other brothels throughout Nevada, which is the only state that has legalized prostitution in the United States.

At the time of his overdose, Odom was staying in a 3,000 square foot suite at the Love Ranch and was soliciting the company of two of the business’s most popular employees, Ryder Cherry and Monica Monroe. The itemized bill from Odom’s stay at the Love Ranch totaled to more than $79,000, with $37,500 to each Cherry and Monroe, and over $1,000 on his bar tab and steaks. This exorbitant amount of money belies the question: how does the legal prostitution business actually work?

How The Business Works: Step-By-Step

Let’s go step-by-step.First, the women are hired through a careful selection process. Hof employs approximately 550 licensed prostitutes across his seven brothels in Nevada. While this seems like a lot of employees, Hof claims that he gets over one thousand applications a month from women who want to work at the prostitution houses.

Each applicant must submit recent photographs and go through a stringent background check. Hof refuses to hire any woman who has been convicted of any drug charges, and will not hire anyone who has been convicted of a felony within five years of the application. Further, each potential prostitute is required to undergo Sexual Transmitted Infection testing before being hired, and required to continue testing on a weekly basis while employed at the brothel.

Diverse Employment And Independent Contractors

The brothels’ staff consists of a diverse collection of women. The prostitutes range in age from 18 to 49 years old. Nearly half of the prostitutes who work at Hof’s brothels have college degrees. In fact, the businesses match the student loan payments for any woman who works there. Hof even hired the first licensed transgender prostitute in Nevada, Madison Montag, who works at the Love Ranch.

Second, at Hof’s businesses, the prostitutes are all independent contractors. The women set their own prices, they choose their own hours, and they can decide what they do with the client. Almost all women give military discounts. Each prostitute lives on the property either permanently or for the duration of her contract, which can range from weeks to months.

While the business keeps 50% of what each prostitute makes, Hof insists that each woman can bring in up to six figures a month. In general, the women work 5 days a week, 12-14 hours a day. There are usually approximately 150 prostitutes working at a time across the seven brothels, and each brothel usually services between 50-100 clients per day.

Third, the clients are “vetted” at the door. They can choose the women either beforehand, by reserving them on the website, or choose the women in person. For example, Lamar Odom was presented with a dozen of the Love Ranch’s most popular prostitutes, who lined up for him to make his choice.

In this case, the women that Odom chose, Cherry and Monroe, were unfortunately the people to find Odom in his unconscious state. Both of the women were subsequently suspended from their employment due to the allegations that they were aware that Odom was using cocaine during his stay at the Love Shack, where drug use is strictly prohibited.

Prostitution Vs Women’s Rights

In this era of women’s rights, it is difficult to determine whether these legal prostitution houses negate the advancements of feminism – or epitomize it. These brothels are businesses staffed by women who have intentionally applied to be licensed prostitutes. On one hand, it appears from the outset that these establishments are the epitome of feminism: women can choose their own lifestyle without shame or taboo. However, the suspension of the women due to Odom’s personal choice to ingest of drugs may indicate that there may still be a long way to go.

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This summer, 175 men were arrested as part of a DC police prostitution sting. The police centered the operation in the downtown area of Northwest DC. The police focused on the customers of prostitution, colloquially referred to as “johns.” Most of the men were charged with solicitation of prostitution.

For this sting, the Washington Post reported that the police have been posing online as sex workers and arranging to meet men at hotel rooms in DC. When the men show up, the police arrest them.

The main problem with this operation is that it fails to combat the primary public concern about prostitution: sex workers are soliciting their customers and conducting their activities outside in public view. This sting fails to address this problem. The police are only targeting people who are online in the privacy of their own home and seeking services in a hotel room that is not in public view. None of these activities affect the public.

Rise In Violent Crime In DC

This prostitution sting came at the heels of Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier’s decision to dismantle all of the department’s vice units this past January. By May 2015, no vice units were left in DC. All of their investigations were turned over to a centralized narcotics unit, which overburdened their caseload.

Perhaps due to this change of structure, DC has seen an increase in murder and violent crimes this year. So far, 120 people have been murdered in DC in 2015. This means that 15 more people have been killed this year than were murdered in all of 2014 – and we still have over two months to go. With this huge problem on their plate, it seems ridiculous that the police are focusing on the non-violent, victimless crime of prostitution.

Therefore, the police are not only targeting the wrong perpetrators, but they are doing so when they should be concerning themselves with much more serious problems.

While we are discussing the matter, it really makes sense to stop prosecuting prostitution altogether.

Why We Should Stop Prosecuting Prostitution

Prostitution is a transaction between two adults. It involves the legal activity of consensual sex. The only difference between prostitution and legal sex is the exchange of money. Unlike a drug exchange, the actual product involved in the transaction is not illegal. Prostitution is actually similar to pornography, in which adults are also engaging in consensual sex for money. Oddly enough, pornography is legal.

There is no victim in prostitution. Prostitution does not harm either the customer seeking the services or the person who has chosen this occupation. However, under the law, both of the parties are criminals.

Prostitution Vs Women’s Rights

Those that argue that prostitution should be a crime say that it is an industry that subjects the sex workers to violence, disease, and inequality. However, this argument is actually perpetrated by criminalization. Because it is a criminal act, sex workers do not have access to labor representation or police protection. The majority of the problems arise because there is no regulation or legal protection for either the sex workers or the customers.

World’s Oldest Profession

Maybe instead of stigmatizing the men and women who are involved in prostitution, we should acknowledge that prostitution is here to stay. Prosecution is often referred to as the “world’s oldest profession.” While this probably is not actually the case, prostitution has been recorded in every known civilization. Prostitution is present throughout the United States despite the fact that it is illegal almost everywhere. It’s time to stop fighting it.

We should really take a page out of Amsterdam’s playbook. In the Netherlands, prostitution has been legal since 1830 and regulated since 2000. The regulations require licenses, implement income taxes, and create strict health requirements for both the workers and the customers. Their government website acknowledges the Dutch view of prostitution: “…it is a profession as any other work. Prostitution is good as long as women (or men) who work as prostitutes do it from their own will, and are not exploited. The sex workers should be respected and their rights protected.”

We need to adopt the Dutch view of prostitution. No one benefits from punishing those involved or stigmatizing the profession. If we decriminalize prostitution, we can input regulations to protect all of the parties involved. We could extinguish the public’s concern of public view prostitution by allowing for business locations. Further, DC in particular could greatly benefit from the income taxes that would be raised from this legalization.

So DC, let’s not herald this ridiculous solicitation sting of which the police are so proud. Let’s focus on the problem behind the sting and what we can do to make it safer for those involved. If you or someone you know needs a solicitation defense lawyer, contact our offices immediately. 

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