Cities with gambling have a stereotype of being a home to vice and other crime. Prostitution is one of these crimes that many associate with gambling, so cities like Atlantic City often get a bad rap for prostitution and solicitation charges. But how common are these charges? The Atlantic City solicitation of prostitution defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain.
Solicitation and Prostitution Charges in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the statute for the crime of “prostitution” covers most crimes related to prostitution. This includes that several offenses, such as acting as a prostitute, paying for prostitution, soliciting prostitution, or promoting prostitution (e.g. by acting as a pimp). These crimes are all combined within the various subsections of N.J.S.A. § 2C:34-1.
Overall, the penalties for solicitation of prostitution in NJ vary depending on the specifics of the case. The basic crime of soliciting a prostitute is a disorderly persons offense. These are similar to what other states call “misdemeanor” offenses. The highest possible punishment for a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is 6 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. However, the penalties can be much lower depending on what the judge sees fit during sentencing.
In some cases, solicitation and other prostitution-related offenses can yield much higher penalties. Especially if the crime involves soliciting prostitution from someone under the age of 18, the penalties can be much higher. These increased penalties range from fourth degree crimes all the way through first degree crimes. These potential penalties are as follows:
- First degree crimes are punished by 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
- Second degree crimes are punished by 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
- Third degree crimes are punished by 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Fourth degree crimes are punished by up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
How Common Are Solicitation Charges in New Jersey?
There are no widely available statistics on the number of arrests for prostitution in Atlantic City or New Jersey. However, there are news reports and other anecdotal evidence that help give somewhat of a picture of how frequently these crimes are charged in New Jersey.
It is important to understand that, especially when it comes to sex crimes or crimes related to sexual activity, many instances go unreported. These unreported crimes are sometimes ominously called the “dark figure” of crime, and they make studying criminalization and victimization difficult. If a crime is committed, but not reported, it becomes exceedingly difficult to study the statistics of crimes, since we only have data on reported crimes. Even within reported crimes, some crimes are not counted in statistics if there is no arrest or if the charges are dropped.
Looking at recent news reports, there are many reports just from the beginning of 2018 of group arrests in various parts of the state. These include an arrest of 8 people charged with various crimes in one case, 3 in another, 6 in another arrest, and 5 in another. In 2017, there were multiple, large sting operations which arrested 15 people in one case and 42 in another. However, many of these arrests include arrests for those working as prostitutes, their clients, and the pimps promoting them. This makes it difficult to parse-out how many arrests were specifically for solicitation.
Solicitation of Prostitution Arrests and Sting Operations
Many people arrested for soliciting prostitutes are arrested through sting operations. Like on crime dramas and reality shows, police use sting operations to catch people in the act of committing a crime. In prostitution stings, police will often pose as prostitutes or ask actual prostitutes to help them catch people in the act of solicitation.
There are many procedures and rules that police must follow when performing a sting operation. If they aren’t careful, those arrested during an operation like this may be able to get their charges dropped on the grounds of “entrapment.”
Entrapment is difficult to prove, but it can help fight solicitation charges in some cases. In a normal sting operation, police use an undercover officer or cooperating actor to pose as a prostitute. Then, when the mark solicits their undercover cop/actor, the other police arrest that person for solicitation. In this case, the crime of solicitation is completed, even if the undercover officer or actor was never going to go through with the act.
In these cases, it is clear that the defendant came to the scene with the intent to commit the crime of solicitation of prostitution. In cases where the actor or undercover officer goes too far and convinces someone to commit a crime when they otherwise had no criminal intent, that case may involve entrapment. This is often a defense to the crime because it is only through police intervention that the defendant did anything illegal; they had no criminal intent before the police were involved.
Atlantic City Solicitation of Prostitution Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
In many cases, the penalties for soliciting a prostitute are not incredibly severe. However, being convicted of this crime can have a lasting effect on your family life, your reputation, and your criminal record. For a free consultation on your charges and for help getting your charges dismissed or reduced, talk to the Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our number is (609) 616-4956.