Solicitation Charges - Why Paying Someone for Something May Be a Crime

We pay people every day for goods and services, but some services are illegal, and asking someone to do it is a crime. Here is what you need to know about solicitation charges:

  • What is "assignation?" Maryland's term for solicitation;
  • Solicitation charges, why it is illegal to pay someone to do something; And
  • Penalty for solicitation varies from minor to severe.

Assignation?? Isn't This About Solicitation Charges?… It Is. Maryland, Uses A Funny Term for It

Solicitation is a broad-based legal term in criminal law. It covers anytime anyone offers money for anything considered a criminal offense under state or federal law. So that means asking someone to murder a person, commit a robbery, or traffic drugs are considered a solicitation crime.

For this blog, we're going to stick to the solicitation for sex or assignation in Maryland. What type of medieval term is assignation, you ask? Well, it simply means making an appointment for or engaging in prostitution. Weird, we know, but that's what the Old Line state defines as a solicitation of prostitution.

Remember, the definition of assignation states "making an appointment," which is critical because you don't have sex to be charged with a solicitation crime. Most sting operations against prostitution by law enforcement arrest and charge people just for asking for sex in exchange for money.

But isn't that entrapment by the police? Entrapment could be a possible defense to a solicitation of a prostitution charge, but the burden of proof falls on the accused. An accuser has to show that they would not have engaged in the illegal act without law enforcement's urging. That is the problem with an entrapment defense when it comes to solicitation. Most offenders are looking for prostitution, eliminating the encouragement of undercover police.

If you can go to the store and buy groceries, why can't you purchase sex as consenting adults?

Transactions Between People Happen Daily, Why Would One Be Illegal?

Solicitation occurs every day at any time and place across the world. For example, a telemarketer right now is soliciting by calling someone and asking them to purchase whatever good or service they are selling.

Paying someone for sex is a crime (except in Nevada), but why? It all goes back to the basic definition of a solicitation crime; seeking someone out to commit a crime in return for payment.

Couldn't a 900 hotline be considered solicitation? So they're seeking out "phone sex," aren't they? Not exactly, although the allures are the pretty women or handsome men shown in the commercial, what they are selling is "conversation," not sex, so they can "solicit" callers to pay for a conversation with somebody.

Since Maryland considers prostitution or selling yourself a crime, you can't ask someone to engage in it because that IS assignation or solicitation.

The actual act of sex does not have to be performed for police to arrest someone for solicitation. Again, only an appointment or request for sex in return for money is needed to make the arrest and press charges.

In the eyes of the law, a person can still be found guilty of solicitation even if the request was denied or never occurs.

Penalties Range From Minor to Severe

The punishments for solicitation intensify depending on the act solicited. For example, asking someone to murder a person has a stiffer penalty than soliciting a prostitute. But, there are varying degrees of soliciting prostitution that does have severe penalties.

An assignation charge is a misdemeanor in Maryland. It is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $500 fine. Soliciting a minor for sex is a felony, and the penalty is up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. This charge also requires registration as a sex offender.

Again, these are punishments for asking, not committing. Trouble comes from the simple question or solicits for the illegal act. Yes, soliciting a prostitute can cost some jail time, a moderate fine, and a slight mar on your reputation, but life does not dramatically alter because you solicited a prostitute.

Now, say the person you thought was a prostitute turns out to be a minor, and life gets very complicated. Prison time, not jail time, is possible, along with a hefty fine and the damning sex offender registry. Being a registered sex offender directly imposes restrictions on where a person can live or work, appoints curfews, and forbids contact with children. Not to mention the loss of friendships and relationships, too.

The impact of a solicitation charge does not have to be severe. Contact JC Law today for a free initial consultation into your case. Every case is different, and depending on the facts, there are many avenues to explore to defend your solicitation case. We have highly skilled sex crime lawyers ready to protect your rights.

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