The Cook County Sheriff’s Office participated in the National Day of Johns Arrests July 17 – August 3, along with 28 other law enforcement agencies in 14 states. The sweep, which was created by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in 2011, netted 14 men on charges of allegedly being involved in pimping, trafficking or promoting prostitution, while another 184 men were arrested and charged with attempted solicitation.
Chicago Solicitation of Prostitution Cases
Most cases of solicitation involve two consenting adults, neither of whom were kidnapped and forced into prostitution (known as sex trafficking), so it is generally a victimless crime. However, this is not a valid defense in court, because the law assumes that the prostitutes are vulnerable and that their circumstances – for example, a single mother with no other means of support – led them to accept payment for sex. Where leniency is often given to the prostitutes, it is not to the men arrested and charged with solicitation. And a conviction for solicitation is not a slap on the wrist – you face up to a year in jail and a $2,500, not to mention the social stigma.
Because of this automatic bias against those accused of soliciting sex, experienced defense counsel is vital in defending against charges of solicitation. Creating a defense requires examining the circumstances that led up to the arrest to determine whether the prosecution can prove that the defendant was, in fact, soliciting sex. Facts that would negate the prosecution’s claims and require the charges to be dropped or would lead to an acquittal in court may include:
- Whether the defendant knew the woman was a prostitute (for example, if he thought he was just hitting on a stranger at the bar);
- Whether any money exchanged hands. Even someone who sells sex for a living can decide to have sex with somebody for free simply because she finds him attractive;
- Whether the defendant dropped all attempts to have sex with the woman once he realized she was a prostitute;
- Whether the defendant was enticed or entrapped. These stings often result in overzealous, undercover police officers forcefully attempting to get the defendant to pay for sex in order to make an arrest; or
- If the alleged solicitation occurred over the Internet, such as in response to a Craigslist ad, did the defendant actually intend to follow through; for example, perhaps he was engaging in some risqué flirting or indulging a fantasy, but never intended to meet the woman at the designated place and time.
If any of these factors are present, then there is a strong defense to be made that the charges should be dropped. Solicitation cases carry a social stigma even if the defendant is ultimately acquitted. Having the case tried in court opens up the possibility for it to be reported in the local newspaper, which can negatively impact your job and public reputation. Our goal in all solicitation cases is to get the charges dropped as quickly as possible to not only avoid potential jail time and fines, but to avoid possible damage to your reputation as well. Continue reading