Consequences of paying for sex in Florida
In Florida, just like in most other jurisdictions, people who give their bodies for sexual activity for hire are not the only people who can face criminal charges for prostitution. So too can people who solicit or pay for sexual activity.
The penalties for paying for prostitution services in Florida depend largely on the number of prior convictions for a similar offense a defendant has on his or her record. A judge in a prostitution case may also use his or her discretion to dole out additional consequences.
Statutory penalties for paying for prostitution services
According to FindLaw, Florida law categorizes the solicitation or purchase of sexual activities as both a misdemeanor and felony offense. For a first-time offense, a defendant may receive second-degree misdemeanor charges, which can result in a $500 fine, up to 60 days in jail or both. A second-time offender may receive first-degree misdemeanor charges, which can result in a maximum one-year jail sentence, a $1,000 fine or both.
Paying for prostitution becomes a felony of the third degree when it is a person’s third offense of the same or similar nature. Third-degree felony charges may result in a prison term of up to five years, a $5,000 fine or both.
When prostitution involves the solicitation or purchase of services from a person who is under 18 years of age, the charge is an automatic second-degree felony, regardless of how many convictions a person has on his or her record. A second-degree felony comes with a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years, a maximum fine of $10,000 or both.
Possible additional penalties
A judge in a prostitution case may use his or her discretion to impose additional penalties. According to The Florida Senate, Florida Statutes 796.07, a judge may order an offender to perform up to 100 hours of community service. He or she may also require an offender to pay for and attend an educational course on the negative impacts of prostitution and related crimes. Finally, if an offense involves the use of a vehicle, a judge may order the impoundment of the vehicle for a period of not more than 60 days.
Statutory penalties aside, prostitution charges can severely damage a person’s reputation. Individuals who face such charges should take immediate and aggressive action as soon after receiving the charges as possible.