Many crimes have evolved and changed over the past few decades. The rise of technology has been largely responsible. Prostitution and solicitation are no exception. Years ago, finding a prostitute or sex worker required some legwork. You had to know someone with connections or hear about a ring through the grapevine.
Today, however, the internet has changed everything. Advertisements on websites like Backpage and Craigslist make it easier than ever to operate prostitution rings and to solicit sex. This has caused the number of prostitution and solicitation arrests to surge in the United States over the past decade. Ohio appears to have dedicated a significant amount of its resources to investigating and arresting individuals who are believed to be engaged in these criminal behaviors.
Internet Ads for Illegal Sex Workers Common in Ohio
In Ohio, investigators have learned that Backpage.com is a popular site for underground sex ring operations. Sites like Backpage make it so easy to solicit commercial sex that one detective compared it to ordering a pizza online. “It’s everywhere because of the online environment,” the Dayton detective explained. “There are no boundaries or limitations…it’s just as easy as ordering pizza to order a person.”
Ohio Ramps Up Efforts to Fight Prostitution and Solicitation
Ohio has put the full force of its resources behind dedicated investigative units and Backpage prostitution sting efforts. Over the past few years, Ohio police have executed stings based on advertisements for prostitution rings on the controversial website. These stings have led to a record number of arrests across the state for solicitation and related crimes. News reports of successful Backpage prostitution stings indicate that nearly 100 people have been arrested so far in 2017. It does not appear that the efforts to bust individuals for solicitation and involvement in prostitution rings will relax anytime soon. Reports indicate that Ohio is a hot spot for prostitution and draws people from other states.
Prostitution Stings in Ohio
How are these Backpage prostitution stings executed? There are two primary ways that Ohio law enforcement will run a sting operation. Both involve undercover law enforcement officer. First, as was the case in Dayton, police will post a fake online advertisement for sexual services. The officers then go undercover and meet with the individuals who respond to the ad. Those responding to the ad are arrested for solicitation. Alternatively, police will go undercover and respond to prostitution ads posted on Backpage and Craigslist. The officers will confirm that the ad was, in fact, for illicit sexual activity. Officers will arrest the prostitutes and/or anyone else who is at this meeting.
Consequences of Prostitution and Solicitation in Ohio
If you are caught up in an Ohio Backpage prostitution sting it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney. Convictions for prostitution and/or solicitation can seriously affect your ability to have a normal life in the future. You can face lengthy terms of imprisonment and steep fines. Your reputation and social standing in your community may suffer, as well.
In Ohio, prostitution is the crime of engaging in sexual activity with another person for money or compensation. You can be charged with prostitution if you engage in sex with another person and are compensated for that act. Prostitution is generally charged as a Third Degree Misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of up to 60 days in jail.
Charges for prostitution can be aggravated to a Felony if the crime involves a person who is positive for HIV/AID or a child. A conviction for felony prostitution in Ohio can carry a possible sentence of up to three years in prison.
In Ohio, solicitation is the crime of asking for or trying to engage in sexual activity with another person in return for compensation. You can be charged with solicitation if you attempt to have sex with another person and pay someone for that sex. You do not actually have to engage in sex to be charged with this crime. The attempt to solicit sex is enough. Solicitation is generally charged as a Third Degree Misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of up to 60 days in jail and community service.
Charges for solicitation can be aggravated to a Felony if the crime involves a person who tests positive for HIV/AIDs or a child.
Fighting Prostitution or Solicitation Charges in Ohio
Is there a way to fight back against charges of prostitution or solicitation after you have been caught up in an Ohio prostitution sting? Possibly. Years ago, individuals who were caught up in sting operations would claim that they were victims of entrapment.
Basically, they argued that the police set them up for criminal activity and arrested them when they participated. Here, a person charged with solicitation may want to argue entrapment if the ad they responded to was planted by police. However, the fact that the person was on a website that is known for its involvement in sex trafficking and prostitution rings will probably hurt that argument.
There are, however, other defenses that may be helpful in fighting charges of prostitution and/or solicitation. When you are charged with a crime the prosecution is required to prove that you are guilty of each element of the offense. When we defend our clients we use every piece of information and evidence possible to make the prosecution’s job as difficult as possible. We insert doubt into the equation and make it difficult for the prosecution to carry their burden.
If you have been arrested as part of an Ohio Backpage or Craigslist prostitution sting contact our Columbus criminal lawyer Adam Burke. We will review your case, determine possible defenses, and answer any questions you have about the charges you face.