Short Take: Understanding Texas Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

 Posted on March 16, 2023 in Uncategorized

As a Top Houston Criminal-Defense Lawyer, I often encounter clients who find themselves entangled in the complex web of Texas prostitution and solicitation laws. These laws have undergone changes in recent years, and it's crucial to understand the current state of the law if you or a loved one is facing such charges.

Effective September 1, 2021, Texas Penal Code Section 43.02 outlines the crime of prostitution. A person commits an offense if they knowingly offer or agree to receive a fee for engaging in sexual conduct. This offense is considered a Class B misdemeanor, but it can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony depending on the number of previous convictions.

In contrast, Texas Penal Code Section 43.021 focuses on the crime of solicitation of prostitution. This occurs when a person knowingly offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person for engaging in sexual conduct. Solicitation is generally considered a state jail felony. However, it can be upgraded to a third-degree felony if the individual has a prior conviction under the same section or under the previous law (Section 43.02(b) before September 1, 2021). Additionally, it can be classified as a second-degree felony if the person being solicited is younger than 18 or believed or represented to be younger than 18, regardless of the actor's knowledge of their age.

If you're facing charges related to prostitution or solicitation, there are some viable defense strategies to consider. For example, a defense to prosecution for prostitution exists if the defendant engaged in the conduct because they were a victim of human trafficking or compelled prostitution. Additionally, a skilled criminal-defense lawyer may challenge the evidence, question the credibility of witnesses, or argue that the defendant did not have the requisite intent to commit the crime.

Moreover, Texas law provides for enhancement of penalties under certain circumstances. For instance, a conviction can be used for enhancement under Section 43.02 or Subchapter D, Chapter 12, but not both. A person is considered previously convicted if they were adjudged guilty, entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or received deferred adjudication, even if the sentence was never imposed or probated.

If you or a loved one is facing charges related to prostitution or solicitation, it's essential to seek the guidance of an experienced Houston criminal-defense lawyer who understands the nuances of Texas law. With the right legal representation, you can navigate this challenging situation and work toward the best possible outcome for your case.

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