The laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia make it illegal to engage in prostitution and other crimes related to it. These crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Northern Virginia. If you are charged with prostitution, you face harsh penalties if convicted and a permanent criminal record. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can build a strong defense to these charges so that you may avoid some of the serious consequences of a conviction.
Common Prostitution Offenses in Virginia
Prostitution is often a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, and there are a number of other prostitution-related crimes that you may be charged with committing. In some cases, the simple offer of sex in exchange for money is a crime, even without any sexual contact. Here are some common prostitution crimes in the Commonwealth:
- Prostitution. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-346, it is illegal for a person to perform sexual acts in exchange for money or an equivalent, such as drugs. It is also illegal to offer to engage in sexual acts for money or an equivalent if the person does any substantial act in furtherance of the offer. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, a person may be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and/or assessed a fine of up to $2,500.
- Solicitation of prostitution. Under this same statute, it is also a crime for a person to offer money or something similar in exchange for a sexual act and engage in a sexual act or do any act in furtherance of the offer. Solicitation of prostitution is also a Class 1 misdemeanor with the same penalties as prostitution. However, if the individual solicits a sexual act of a minor that is at least 16 years old, this is a Class 6 felony with a possible sentence of one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and a fine not exceeding $2,500 in the judge’s discretion. If the minor is under 16 years old, the offense is a Class 5 felony, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Bawdy places. It is illegal to keep, reside in, or visit a bawdy place under Virginia Code § 18.2-347. Under the statute, a bawdy place is defined as a place within or without a building that is used or will be used for lewdness, assignation (an appointment to meet with someone in secret), or prostitution. This is also a Class 1 misdemeanor with the same penalties as prostitution. However, a person may face separate charges for each day that a bawdy place is kept, resided in, or visited.
- Aiding prostitution. Virginia Code § 18.2-348 makes it a crime to aid prostitution or illegal sexual intercourse. It is illegal if a person knows or should know that he is transporting or assisting in the transporting of anyone to any place used for prostitution. It is also considered aiding prostitution for an individual to provide information to another person on how or where to procure prostitutes with the intent that this person engage in prostitution. Both types of aiding prostitution are Class 1 misdemeanors with penalties of up to12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Using a vehicle to promote prostitution. If a person uses his vehicle or lets another person use his vehicle for prostitution or any other offenses listed above, he may be charged under Virginia Code § 18.2-348 for using a vehicle to promote prostitution. This is also a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Taking, detaining, or confining a person for prostitution. Virginia Code § 18.2-355 makes it a crime to engage in human trafficking. A person can be convicted of this crime for taking someone to or causing her to enter a bawdy place or any place against her will for the purpose of prostitution. It is also illegal for an individual to take a person against her will to compel her to marry this individual or anyone else or to be defiled. If a parent or guardian of the victim consents to the victim being taken for prostitution, he can also be convicted of this crime. This is a Class 4 felony if the victim is an adult with a possible sentence of between two and ten years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. If the victim is a minor, it is a Class 5 felony with possible harsher penalties.
Contact Our Firm for Help
If you have been charged with prostitution or a related offense in Northern Virginia, you are facing very severe penalties that may include imprisonment and a permanent criminal record. Our experienced sex crime attorneys are here to help you fight the charges so that they are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn about your possible defenses and what you can expect in your criminal proceedings, call our Fairfax office today to schedule a free consultation.