Solicitation: Laws, Consequences, and John-Shaming

The world’s oldest profession – prostitution – is against the law here in Colorado and almost everywhere in the United States. Nevada is the only exception, and even then, prostitution is only legal in 28 specific brothels across 8 counties.

Whether or not this is the way it should be is up for debate, but that doesn’t change the current situation. If you engage in prostitution, solicitation, pimping, pandering, or any behavior that promotes the sex trade, you can potentially face criminal charges. Which you probably know. In Colorado, these offenses are considered “morality crimes.”

But we all know that someone doesn’t actually have to be guilty of a crime to get charged with it. There are all kinds of reasons you might find yourself facing a charge. Regardless of the reason, though, the consequences are the same. And the best way to fight back is to understand as much as you can about the laws and penalties.


Colorado Prostitution and Solicitation Laws and Penalties

Before trying to understand the laws themselves, there are two important things to know:

  • Sex is broadly defined to include oral sex, masturbation, and vaginal and anal intercourse.
  • The payment for sex does not only have to be money. If there is an exchange or offer of exchanging something valuable in return for sex, that is a crime.

Prostitution. It is a crime to buy and sell sex, offer or agree to sell sex, or visit a place of prostitution with the intent to buy sex.

Prostitution is a class 3 misdemeanor – the least serious misdemeanor here – and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of $50 to $750, or both.

Pimping. If a person is living off of or receiving any kind of financial support from money earned by someone else engaging in prostitution, they are committing the crime of pimping.

Pimping is a class 3 felony punishable by 4 to 12 years in jail, a fine of $3,000 to $750,000, or both.

Denver Solicitation Defense Lawyer

Pandering. Pandering is committed when a person threatens or intimidates another person to engage in prostitution. It is also pandering if someone arranges or offers to arrange a situation where an individual can engage in prostitution.

If someone panders with threats or intimidation, they’re looking at a class 5 felony, which is punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, or both. If they pander by arranging or offering to arrange prostitution, they’re looking at a class 3 misdemeanor.

Solicitation. Solicitation occurs when someone solicits anyone for prostitution, arranges or offers to arrange a meeting for prostitution, or directs someone to a place of prostitution.

So under this statute, you could potentially be arrested and charged with solicitation if you use a Craigslist personal ad to find someone willing to exchange sex for something of value – or even simply tell someone where they can find a massage parlor that offers sex. Yes, just telling someone or directing them to a place of prostitution is a crime.

Soliciting for prostitution is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Social Consequences of Solicitation

Besides the legal consequences of prostitution, you might have to face social consequences as well.

What are social consequences?

For starters, do you remember the early 2000s television show To Catch a Predator? Audiences watched as adult males from all walks of life solicited underage children through the internet. These supposed underage children were actually decoys who were luring men for the sole purpose of arresting them and exploiting them on TV.

The show was a hit. Mostly due to the voyeuristic nature of watching someone get caught and publicly shamed for committing a crime – especially against so-called children.

Social Consequences of Solicitation

But that was only the beginning of public shaming. In our current Internet Age, news and pictures – specifically mug shots – travel fast. And law enforcement officers have started to show off their arrests on a national stage.

A Long Island prostitution sting arrested 104 men. Their names and mug shots were displayed at a 2013 press conference, and the New York Post, Daily Mail, and The Huffington Post all picked up the story, creating online slide shows of the arrested men. And oops, they forgot to also show the disclaimer that all the men were innocent until proven guilty.

This john-shaming isn’t limited to New York, either. Law enforcement officers in Michigan, Maryland, California, and right here in Colorado Springs have taken it upon themselves to bring attention to those arrested for solicitation. They claim it’s being used as a deterrent because prostitution is supposedly linked to much more serious crimes.

But is it fair to be shamed if you’ve only been accused of a crime? And even if you are convicted of the crime, isn’t the punishment and blemish on your criminal record enough? What right do police officers have to decide that ruining someone’s reputation is just?

Unfortunately, the laws haven’t been able to catch up to our current situation. And until that happens, your private matter could very well turn public – regardless of your position or reputation beforehand.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.