Two people — a man and woman — now face sex trafficking charges after police began investigating whether a young runaway had been forced into prostitution in West Palm Beach.
Prostitution charges can be serious. As seen here it can lead to other charges if police begin investigating deeper. On the surface, most people who are involved in prostitution are charged with a misdemeanor. Still, the impact of such charges can follow a defendant through life for years to come.
There are times when a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer will be called on to defend a larger charge, including sex trafficking. Sex trafficking has become a hot-button topic as it goes hand-in-hand with immigration, in many cases.
If a person arrested for prostitution claims they have been forced into the situation, it could lead to a search by detectives to determine the truth to the statement. This can lead to serious charges classified as felony offenses.
In this case, a girl under 16 was recently reported missing by her stepfather. The man told authorities that he suspected she could be involved in prostitution. Detectives searched online to try to find the girl and set up an appointment with a detective operating as an undercover “john.”
When police met the girl at a motel near Interstate 95, they explained the investigation and the girl told them about a 33-year-old “pimp” and a 22-year-old prostitute whom she was involved with. She said she met the 33-year-old at a convenience store and he talked with her about becoming a prostitute.
The next day, the girl called the man and he picked her up. The two had sex and he then explained how the set up would work, including how much money she would make and what percentage she could keep.
Police say she began working for the man, having sex with one man and watching while another man performed a sex act in front of her before police were able to find her. Both the pimp and prostitute now face major sex trafficking charges involving a minor.
In these cases, there are several elements the state must prove. First of all, to prove that a person was involved in trafficking a person for purposes of sex, they must show that the victim was unable to leave and was essentially held captive by the suspects. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean they were bound and unable to leave, but that they were forced into the alleged activity.
Prosecutors must also be able to prove that there was intent to commit a crime or that there was knowledge the victim was underage. In some prostitution cases, suspects aren’t aware of the age of the prostitute, making enhanced charges related to the age of the victim difficult. Though in many cases, not knowing the age of a victim is not deemed a defense.
At any rate, when a prostitution charge is enhanced to something more serious, an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer should be called to investigate the facts and properly defend the suspect. Many times, these charges are overblown as police detectives seek to file the most serious charges, but not necessarily charges that are provable.
If you are arrested in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.
More Blog Entries:
Prostitute Allegedly Carjacks John in West Palm Beach Case: October 14, 2011
2 charged with sex trafficking West Palm Beach runaway girl, by Peter Franceschina, Sun Sentinel