In February, less than a month after his New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, 77-year-old Patriots billionaire owner Robert Kraft was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution here in Florida.
The soliciting prostitution charges were filed after Kraft made two visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. According to police officials, Kraft was videotaped – twice – paying for a sex act at the massage parlor.
What constitutes soliciting prostitution in the state of Florida? What are the penalties for a conviction? How will a Stuart sex crimes lawyer represent a client who is charged with soliciting prostitution?
A spokesperson for Kraft has strongly denied that he is guilty of any crime. “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity,” the spokesperson told CNN.
IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING WIDESPREAD IN FLORIDA?
Police also say that the Orchids of Asia Day Spa is linked to an international prostitution and human trafficking ring. The police further allege that some of the women at the spa are “sex slaves” from China.
In fact, the charges against Kraft come during a crackdown on prostitution and human trafficking in Florida ranging from Miami to Orlando.
According to ESPN, hundreds of arrest warrants are being issued as a result of the six-month-long investigation, and ten of the “spas” have already been shut down.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE AGAINST MR. KRAFT?
Police officials said that cameras were secretly installed in targeted massage parlors, and police are now pursuing similar solicitation charges against more than one hundred men who allegedly paid women who may have been trafficked and kept in “sexual servitude” at the day spas.
It is not believed that any of the men who are suspected of soliciting prostitution, including Robert Kraft, knew that any of the women at the facilities were purported victims of human trafficking.
In fact, the case against Kraft might be difficult for Florida prosecutors to prove. Reportedly, the women in the videos with Kraft are the manager of the spa and a 58-year-old licensed masseuse, and they are both reportedly long-time Florida residents.
WHY ARE HUMAN TRAFFICKERS DRAWN TO THE TREASURE COAST?
Nevertheless, human trafficking and soliciting prostitution have become increasingly common on Florida’s east coast. “Escorts” and “dates” can now be found easily on the internet. But why is human trafficking a problem specifically in the Treasure Coast area?
Affluent communities attract human traffickers. Because customers in affluent communities are able to pay more for the services that trafficked women provide, the traffickers specifically bring women to the Florida’s east coast – and other affluent areas – to meet the demand.
Precisely what constitutes “soliciting prostitution” in Florida? The crime of solicitation of prostitution is committed in Florida whenever a person solicits, induces, entices, or procures another person to engage in prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
HOW DO THE COURTS HANDLE SOLICITING PROSTITUTION CHARGES?
In Florida, most first offenders charged with soliciting a prostitute are allowed to enter a diversion program. Kraft, for example, would have to perform one hundred hours of community service and attend an educational program about the effects of prostitution and trafficking.
The successful completion of a Florida pre-trial diversion program usually means that the charge can be dismissed. However, if for any reason a person does not qualify for a diversion program and is convicted for soliciting prostitution, the penalties can be rather harsh.
A first-time offense for soliciting prostitution in Florida is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor; a conviction is punishable by up to sixty days in jail. A second offense is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor; a conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail.
A third or subsequent offense for soliciting prostitution in Florida is charged as a third-degree felony; a conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison. Additionally, all solicitation convictions in this state are penalized with a civil fine of up to $500.00 in addition to court costs.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO A SOLICITATION CHARGE?
If you are charged with soliciting prostitution in South Florida, you must be advised and represented by an experienced Stuart criminal defense attorney, and you must contact that attorney at once.
A good defense lawyer will review the charge against you, explain your rights, and craft a legal defense based on the details of the case. The legal defenses most frequently used in solicitation cases include:
- You did not offer money (or anything else, like drugs) in exchange for sex.
- You did not intend to solicit prostitution, and your meaning was misunderstood.
- Nothing happened whatsoever, and you are the victim of an outright fabrication.
- You were entrapped by the police and would not have broken the law otherwise.
If a soliciting prostitution case goes to trial, the state must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is not necessarily easy in these cases.
HOW CAN A GOOD DEFENSE LAWYER HELP?
A good criminal defense lawyer can often find a flaw in the state’s case against a solicitation defendant and exploit that flaw on the defendant’s behalf. In fact, particularly in cases involving first-time offenders, a good defense lawyer may be able to have the charge simply dismissed.
If you have a professional license in Florida – you are a doctor or nurse, a lawyer or a teacher, or you’re in another profession – you should know that your professional licensing board may suspend or revoke your license if you are convicted of soliciting prostitution in Florida.
And if you are an immigrant in this state, you should know that solicitation may be considered a “crime of moral turpitude” by immigration authorities. It is possible that a conviction for solicitation could trigger the deportation of someone who holds a visa or even a green card.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM IN FLORIDA?
If you are charged with committing any type of sex crime, it can be a wrenching, traumatic event. In South Florida, you must be advised and represented by an accomplished Stuart criminal defense attorney.
If you are charged with solicitation or with any other sex crime in the Treasure Coast area or elsewhere in Florida, you must schedule a consultation – immediately – with a reliable and experienced defense lawyer. It’s imperative, and your future will depend on it.