Houston area police officers and prosecutors have started aggressively pursuing "Johns" in an attempt to curb the demand for prostitution. This is being spearheaded by a new administration in the Harris County District Attorney's Office that is fueled by federal funding available to stop "human trafficking."
Police officers use a variety of tactics to "bait" people into making statements that they use to make a prostitution case. They will often troll ads in backpage.com, craigslist, and internet chat rooms to find potential targets. Police also investigate massage parlors that they suspect are engaging in nefarious conduct. Sometimes these investigations are limited to simple prostitution stings. Other times the investigations metastasize into much larger Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity or Money Laundering cases.
Criminal Penalties for Prostitution
A first time prostitution offense is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $4,000 fine. If a person has one or two prior prostitution convictions, then the punishment is enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. If the person has three or more prostitution convictions, then the next prostitution charge is a State Jail Felony, where the punishment range is six months to two years in a state jail facility, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.Â There are also penalties for Promotion of Prostitution and Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution that can range from a state jail felony all the way to a first degree felony depending upon the circumstances.
Prostitution cases can be attacked in a variety of ways. Ed McClees used to help police officers develop investigations into prostitution rings when he was the Chief Prosecutor of the Organized Crime Section at the Harris County District Attorney's Office. He has experience handling simple prostitution cases, and more complicated Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity cases involving prostitution related crimes.
If you have been charged with a crime involving prostitution, call us for a free consultation.