James Luster

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Fort Worth Prostitution Attorney

Discrete and Professional Prostitution Defense

Most prostitution arrests are made in connection with a “sting” or undercover police operation. Occasionally, a prostitution arrest is made as the result of a “raid” on a studio or club, but this is relatively rare. The prostitution stings are generally conducted by a special unit of police and the operation is usually conducted in one of two ways. Below is an explanation of the common police “sting methods” for prostitution. Do not plead guilty to a charge based on a investigation involving Backpage, ECCIE, HX (Humaniplex), CityVibe, P411, or Craigslist until you speak with a defense attorney.

A conviction for prostitution can have a serious impact on a person’s criminal history, and multiple prostitution convictions can lead to serious prison time. We are criminal defense attorneys that are experienced and skilled in dealing with sex allegations and familiar with the Tarrant County policies and programs (i.e. RISE Program). We will do everything we can to keep you criminal record clean and keep you out of jail.

We treat our clients with respect and our cases with great discretion. Our office is a safe place. We are protectors and advocates, not social workers or life coaches. - James Luster

Fort Worth or Arlington Stings

One common method for a prostitution sting is the undercover (plain clothes) officer pulls his unmarked car up to suspected prostitute. The officer then says something to engage the suspect like, “I’m trying to do something, what’s up?” or “Hey, I’m looking to hangout.” After an initial conversation, most suspects try some method to screen the officer.

A common way suspects try to screen for police is by first asking if they are police and then asking the person to touch their breast. The police officer will then touch the suspect’s clothed breast and continue with the transaction. The police officer will continue to talk about the desired services until he believes the elements for prostitution have been met. Then the officer will give some signal to other officers and the officers will make an arrest.

Another method used by law enforcement is to contact a suspected prostitute from an internet site. The officer then arranges a meeting for an “incall” or “outcall.” Once the officer arrives on scene in plain clothes, he will discuss the arrangement and even have the suspected prostitute remove part or all of her clothes. Then the officer will provide some kind of signal or say something through a radio. Then other officers will bust into the hotel room or studio.

Define Prostitution in Texas

A person can be charged with prostitution under Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code in four situations:

  1. A person offers or agrees to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee;
  2. A person solicits (in a public place) to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee;
  3. A person offers or agrees to pay a fee in exchange for sexual conduct; or
  4. A person solicits (in a public page) to pay a fee in exchange for engaging in sexual conduct.
  5. For the Texas definition of prostitution Sexual Conduct is: Deviate sexual intercourse is touching of genitals of one person to the mouth or anus of another person. Sexual contact is touching of the anus, breast, or genitals of one person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying someone sexually. Sexual intercourse happens when a penis penetrates a vagina.

    By law, it does not matter if any money (or other compensation) is actually exchanged. The mere offer or solicitation to engage in prostitution is enough for a charge.

    What type of crime is prostitution?

    If you want to know whether prostitution is a felony or misdemeanor then read the next section. In Texas prostitution or solicitation is considered an “Offense Against Public Order and Decency.” More specifically, it is considered a form of “public indecency.” Whether prostitution is a crime of moral turpitude requires a somewhat complex explanation. A more in-debth discussion is located at the bottom of the page.

    Punishment for Prostitution

    Misdemeanor Prostitution / SolicitationA first offense for prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and $2000 fine). If someone has been convicted one or two times before the current charge then prostitution or solicitation is a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail and $4000 fine).

    Felony Prostitution / Solicitation If someone has three prostitution convictions, then all convictions after that are State Jail Felonies. Like any State Jail Felony, this charge can be enhanced to more serious felony level charges based on a person’s criminal history. Prostitution / Solicitation becomes a Second Degree Felony if the person solicited is younger than 18 years old. A few years ago, the law made solicitation of someone 14 to 17 a Third Degree Felony, but this has changed in Texas.

    Do police have to tell you if they are the police?

    No. This is a myth. Officers are not under any obligation to be truthful to a suspect.

    Can police touch your breast if they’re undercover?

    Yes. It is common practice for officers to engage in this behavior in a prostitution sting.

    What is Promotion of Prostitution?

    Under Texas Penal Code Section 43.03, a person promotes prostitution if, acting other than as a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution services, he or she knowingly:

    • gets money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution; or
    • solicits another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.
    Promotion of prostitution is a Class A misdemeanor—up to a $4000 fine and up to a year in jail.

    What is Compelling Prostitution?

    Under Texas Penal Code Section 43.05, a person commits compelling prostitution if the person knowingly:

    • causes another by force, threat, or fraud to commit prostitution; or
    • causes by any means a child younger than 18 years to commit prostitution, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the child at the time the actor commits the offense.
    Compelling prostitution under Subsection (1) is Second Degree Felony – 2 to 20 years in prison. Compelling prostitution under Subsection (2) is a First Degree Felony – 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

    Important Definitions Related to Prostitution Charges

    Deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.

    Sexual contact” means any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

    Sexual conduct” includes deviate sexual intercourse, sexual contact, and sexual intercourse.

    Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

    Is prostitution a crime of moral turpitude?

    Texas courts have defined “moral turpitude” as the type of crime involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community. This kind of “moral” crime is supposed to be different than a crime that is “mala prohibita” – a term applied to any actions that are criminal strictly by statute and statutory law.

    In the context of whether a conviction can be used as “impeachment evidence” against someone testifying in court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has identified prostitution as a crime of moral turpitude. You can find this in Holgin v. State, 480 S.W.2d 405, 408 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972).

    Texas courts have applied the Holgin Rule about prostitution in other contexts. For instance, in immigration removal or adjustment proceedings, prostitution is considered a crime of moral turpitude. You can find this in Ex Parte Rodriguez, 378 S.W.3d 486, 490 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2012).

    The lawyer defending your prostitution charge should make you aware of the variety of consequences stemming from a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude. This is not necessarily a subject every lawyer thinks to talk about with their clients, but it can have lasting impact on jobs, immigration, professional licenses, or your credibility in court.