In the state of Missouri, there are a number of sex crimes which are Prostitution-related charges. For instance, there is the obvious prostitution itself, but also the ‘John’ may be charged with a crime as well. In addition, if the prostitute is under age, has an STD, or is being forced into the profession, there are specific charges which may be rendered.
Thus, regardless of the situation related to the sex crime, prosecutors have considerable latitude in determining how to proceed with criminal charges.
What Constitutes Prostitution-Related Charges?
Generally, there are four specific charges which are related to Prostitution which someone may face in Missouri. These four charges cover the majority of Prostitution-related crimes/charges; other related crimes are often charged under separate statutes. The 4 primary charges one may face are:
- Prostitution – Offering sex in exchange for money or something of value is prostitution. Something of value is defined as property or any other article which is exchangeable for money or property. By this definition then, treating someone to dinner before sex would not constitute prostitution. However, OFFERING dinner in exchange for sex would constitute prostitution.
- Promoting Prostitution/Pimping and Pandering. Pimping has long been a part of prostitution. Thus, to combat this element of the crime, the state of Missouri has enacted specific legislation related to charging and convicting those accursed of promoting prostitution in any way. The law is expansive enough to allow prosecutors to convict virtually anyone the state can prove assisted in any way with the crime of prostitution. For instance,
- causing or assisting” anyone to prostitute,
- procuring customers,
- providing a location for conducting this illegal trade
- accepting money, even a “tip,” from someone engaged in prostitution
- doing anything that would assist in facilitating prostitution
- simply working at a business identified as a “prostitution business” can result in charges of Promoting Prostitution or Pimping and Pandering.
- Patronizing a Prostitute – Some states refer to this as “soliciting prostitution.” This is the “John,” the customer of the prostitution. In Missouri, offering anything of value in exchange for sex, whether the act occurs or not, is considered patronizing. This applies even if the person solicited is not engaging in prostitution.
- Knowingly Transmitting HIV/Hepatitis – Transmitting HIV or Hepatitis to another person knowingly is treated as a crime under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.677.1. Although other sexually transmitted diseases are not listed specifically in this Revised Statute, when intentional transmission of other STDs occur, prosecutors have the ability to charge assault.
What are the Possible Penalties if Convicted of Prostitution-Related Charges?
The penalties if convicted of prostitution-related charges vary, depending on severity of the actions of both parties. For instance, under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 567.050, if a person engages in promoting prostitution involving minors, the charges are likely to be first degree with considerably higher penalties for a conviction.
- Prostitution– In general, a Class B Misdemeanor which results in a fine up to $500 and jail time up to six months.
- Promoting Prostitution/Pimping and Pandering – Depending on the specifics (drug involvement, use of force, coercion, ages, and more), a charge of Promoting Prostitution carries some of the highest penalties of all prostitution-related crimes. If you have been involved in promoting prostitution and are now facing charges, these could range from a Class D felony to a Class B felony. The penalties, if convicted, range from 4 to 15 years’ incarceration and between $5000 and $20,000 in fines. In addition, a conviction will also require that you register as a sex offender for life.
- Patronizing a Prostitute – Patronizing a prostitute in Missouri is a Class B Misdemeanor. A conviction means a fine up to $500 and up to six months in jail.
- However, if the prostitute is age 15-17, the charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor; penalties up to one year in jail and $1000 fine.
- If the age of the prostitute is under 14, the charge becomes a Class D felony; penalties for a conviction include up to four years’ imprisonment and $5000 fine.
- Knowingly Transmitting HIV/Hepatitis – A Class B felony, knowingly transmitting one of the deadly diseases can land a person in prison for up to 15 years and potentially incur fines up to $5000.
Additional penalties in the case of any of the above charges include registering as a sex offender in some instances and possible revocation of professional licenses. For instance, the Missouri Board of Education per Mo. Rev. Stat. § 168.071 may revoke teaching certificates for anyone convicted of crimes of moral turpitude. Other state agencies requiring licensure may do so as well.
What Are Defenses to Prostitution-Related Charges?
When planning your defense, your attorney will inform you that the sex of the persons involved is immaterial. If you did not know the prostitute was under 18, that does not matter. In the case of spreading HIV, wearing a condom is no defense. So, what are some defenses which may be employed?
- Prostitution – If you were forced to participate in prostitution, this would be a defense. In addition, some judges may take into account substance abuse and redirect the convicted prostitute to an appropriate treatment program. One possible outcome of the treatment would be that upon successful completion, the prostitution charges may be dropped. However, such offers are generally reserved for first or second-time offenders. If this is your third, fourth, or more charge of prostitution, you may face a Class D felony as a ‘persistent offender.’ This will require a different approach to defense.
- Promoting Prostitution/Pimping and Pandering – In order to gain a conviction of promoting prostitution, the prosecutor must prove that you gained materially from the enterprise. The deeper your involvement, the tougher it will be to defend. This is why in such cases you need an attorney with experience in the office of the prosecution. You need someone who can negotiate if necessary.
- Patronizing a Prostitute – is charged regardless of whether the sex act occurred or not. So one defense is to prove that this was a simple misunderstanding. Another would be to get the charges reduced to something less embarrassing, such as jaywalking or littering. Do not just give up and decide to plead No Contest or Guilty.
- Knowingly Transmitting HIV/Hepatitis – When charges of transmitting a deadly disease are rendered, the key principle to the charge is reckless endangerment of life. Use of a condom is not considered a valid defense, though use of such does demonstrate some degree of concern for others. Never-the-less, because a condom is not 100% safe, the element of reckless endangerment still applies. A defense to these charges may be to prove that you did not understand the seriousness of your illness. A lack of understanding may counter the recklessness element of the charge.
Facing Prostitution-Related Charges? Call Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Korner Now!
Often, when someone is facing charges of prostitution or patronizing, they simply want the matter to go away. But it will not and entering a “quick guilty plea” will not improve your life. You need to fight and you need an attorney who knows how to fight these charges in order to provide you with the best possible outcome.
When facing criminal charges of any kind, including prostitution-related charges, time is not your friend. You need to move quickly and get someone on your side who can help. The Law Offices of Jason A. Korner are here for you. Jason Korner spent many years working the prosecution side of the system. He understands the ins and outs of criminal charges. He knows what is going to be required to get you the best outcome.