Prostitution is the crime of engaging in sexual acts in exchange for money or its equivalent. In Virginia, however, it is important to note that actual sexual contact is not a prerequisite for a prostitution conviction. In Fairfax County, VA, prostitution-related crimes are aggressively pursued by police and prosecutors, which is why anyone who is facing a charge of prostitution needs a well-qualified and dedicated Fairfax County prostitution lawyer.
In Fairfax County, Prostitution is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
It is not uncommon for Fairfax County law enforcement to organize sting operations to target prostitutes. A typical sting involves a police officer posing as a potential “John,” or client, and engaging the target in conversation, with the intent of enticing the target into offering sex in exchange for money. The target is often then arrested at the point when money is exchanged. Note, though, that actual exchange of money does not have to take place for a prosecution to be successful in Virginia.
While a sting operation may result in an arrest, it does not always result in a conviction. Procedural errors often occur during sting operations; which is why it is always smart for a defendant to speak to a qualified attorney to see if there were law enforcement errors that could be helpful to their defense.
Evidence Required for a Prostitution Conviction
Often, law enforcement will rely on circumstantial evidence to build a prostitution case. There are two kinds of evidence: direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is evidence that, in and of itself, establishes a fact in the investigation. A videotaped exchange of money in a prostitution case, for example, is direct evidence.
Circumstantial evidence is evidence which does not establish any fact; it just makes some relevant fact more likely. For example, possession of large amounts of cash, a client book, or even condoms may be used as circumstantial evidence to prosecute prostitution charges.
The rules of evidence can be difficult to follow, but it is important to understand the type and amount of evidence that will be utilized by the prosecution. The strength of the evidence is the strength of the prosecution’s case. For most defendants, the counsel of a qualified defense attorney can help to make sense of the situation.
Plea-Bargaining to Resolve Prostitution Charges
The legal process can be intimidating and confusing. Prosecuting attorneys generally have discretion regarding whether or not to offer plea bargains, and they have been known to use that discretion to their great advantage. For example, prosecuting attorneys will offer plea bargains prior to pre-trial motions in an effort to quickly resolve what might be a weak case. Thus, the accused is forced to make an important decision, often very early on in the trial process.
The accused can either plead guilty, and give up the right to a trial, or decline the plea bargain and move forward toward trial. For many people, this is the most important decision in the entire process, but it comes and goes quickly and sometimes unexpectedly.
Pleading guilty, through a plea agreement, could result in a conviction of a lesser charge, such as loitering or disturbing the peace. Sometimes it will result in a conviction on the prostitution count, but with a more lenient sentence recommendation. This is often the simplest way to resolve the case, but it is may be against the defendant’s best interests to accept a plea offer so early in the process.
Declining the plea offer, though, takes a certain measure of courage. Even those who are completely innocent of all charges sometimes have difficulty declining a plea deal. The prospect of a criminal trial is simply too daunting; no one wants to go through that. Prosecuting attorneys are savvy negotiators; they can press any advantage and could push for harsh sentencing in an effort to make an example of the accused.
The only way to combat the prosecuting attorney’s knowledge and experience is to employ knowledge and experience for the defense, in the form of a Fairfax County criminal defense attorney who is well-grounded in local law and custom. The presence of a dedicated prostitution defense attorney at plea negotiations will allow for objective evaluation of both the prosecution’s case and the defendant’s options.
Fairfax County Prostitution Lawyer
Sexually-based charges such as prostitution are almost never cut-and-dry cases. Arrests for prostitution often involve police stings and complicated procedural issues, creating a significant burden for the prosecution in proving that all proper processes were followed before, during and after the arrest. Most prostitution cases have at least one potential defense, but most of those defenses are never examined because of a lack of legal or procedural knowledge.
It is thus important, when facing prostitution charges, to consider the advantages a defense attorney can provide. A licensed Fairfax County prostitution lawyer will act as a guide and an advocate, assisting all the way through the process to ensure that all possible defenses are asserted. Our top notch team of Fairfax County criminal defense attorneys is ready and waiting to fill that roll. Contact us today for a free case consultation. If you need assistance with other criminal charges in Fairfax County, please visit this page.