Penalties for Prostitution in Florida

Much like marijuana legalization, there is much debate about prostitution and whether it should still be a crime. After all, it’s one of the oldest occupations to exist. Why is it illegal when it involves two consenting adults? Isn’t it like dating, but you don’t have to buy your date dinner? People ask these types of questions all the time, but there are definite reasons why it’s illegal to this day. For example, sexually transmitted diseases and human trafficking.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “Here in this country, people are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves, often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay.” Under the FBI’s human sex trafficking program, it investigates cases where people are forced to engage in commercial sex through force and coercion.

Human sex trafficking in the U.S. includes:

  • Sex trafficking of adults in the U.S. (domestic sex trafficking)
  • International sex trafficking of children and adults

Not only does prostitution create a demand for human sex trafficking, it also leads to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Lastly, prostitution is hard to track and tax; therefore, it is not a legitimately-run enterprise that’s easily controlled by the government. For these reasons and more, prostitution remains illegal in the U.S., except for a small area in Nevada.

Florida’s Prostitution Laws

Prostitution is criminalized under Section 796.07 of the Florida Statutes. Sec. 796.07 defines prostitution as “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.” Under this law, it’s illegal to:

  • Operate a house of prostitution,
  • Pay for prostitution services,
  • Offer another for the purpose of prostitution,
  • Receive or agree to receive a person into any building or place for the purpose of prostitution, or
  • Transport another for the purpose of prostitution.

If you’re 18 or older, it’s against the law to commit or engage in prostitution, whether you’re the prostitute or a customer, otherwise known as the “John.” It’s also against the law to enter, remain in, or reside in a house of prostitution.

Generally, a first prostitution offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500. A second prostitution offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. A third violation is a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $5,000.

Are you facing prostitution charges in West Palm Beach? If so, contact my firm today for a free criminal defense consultation!


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