Solicitation falls within the same category as prostitution under Virginia law. Rather than offering sex acts in exchange for money or something of value, however, solicitation occurs when individuals offer cash or something of value to others in exchange for sex acts. As the consequences of either of these crimes can be harsh, a Mecklenburg County solicitation lawyer could help.
A dedicated criminal defense lawyer may be able to assist you whether you are accused of prostitution, solicitation, or related offenses. By enlisting legal counsel as soon as possible following an arrest or the filing of charges, you may be able to fully understand your options before making any significant decisions about your case. You also may be able to create and utilize the defense strategy that is most advantageous to you.
Virginia Code § 18.2-346 defines solicitation as offering money or other valuable items to others to obtain sex acts. However, acts of solicitation do not become a crime until the individuals have taken some substantial step toward completing the solicitation.
As a result, it may be insufficient for individuals to make a statement in which they allegedly solicit sex acts unless they couple that statement with an affirmative action to carry out the solicitation.
These actions might include withdrawing money from an ATM, setting up a date, time, and location for the encounter to occur, or showing up at an agreed-upon place with cash in hand.
Generally, solicitation is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge under Virginia law. Maximum penalties for a conviction may include one year in jail and a fine of up to $2500. Since a permanent criminal record of solicitation can be highly damaging to future endeavors, individuals facing these charges may wish to consult a solicitation lawyer in Mecklenburg County for legal assistance and representation.
Although solicitation is typically a misdemeanor charge, it can be a felony charge in selected circumstances. Any solicitation involving a minor is a felony offense; the offense is a Class 6 felony if the minor falls between the ages of 16 and 18, and a Class 5 felony if the minor is under the age of 16.
Va. Code § 18.2-374.3 also makes it a Class 5 felony when an adult who is over the age of 18 uses any communications system, including email, text messages, and social media messaging platforms, to solicit minors with a lustful intent to engage in prostitution.
For a conviction under this code section, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused individuals knew or had reason to believe that the persons whom they were soliciting were under the age of 18.
Likewise, individuals may not use communications systems to solicit others with lascivious intent to propose or entice them into sexual activities if they know or have reason to know that they are under the age of 15.
A Class 6 felony conviction may result in a prison sentence ranging from a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years. However, depending on the circumstances, the penalty can decrease to 12 months or less in jail and a $2,5000 fine. A Class 5 felony conviction can result in as much as a decade in prison, but again, the sentence may decrease to 12 months or less, plus a $2,500 fine, based on the discretion of the sentencing judge.
If the felony solicitation involves a child under the age of 15, however, individuals could face a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence and could face up to 30 years in jail. Similarly, if individuals have a prior conviction, they may receive enhanced penalties for a conviction. Persons who are facing these potentially severe penalties should not hesitate to consult with a solicitation attorney in Mecklenburg County right away.
If you want to safeguard your future, both personally and professionally, you should seek the advice of an experienced Mecklenburg County solicitation lawyer when you are accused of solicitation or related offenses. Whether you made a simple error in judgment or you are the victim of false allegations, you cannot afford to gamble with your future.
Various defenses may be available to you in solicitation cases. If you had no lascivious intent in soliciting a minor, for instance, then the prosecution may be unable to convict you of the offense as charged. For more information about potential defenses, contact legal counsel today.
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