Articles Posted in Prostitution

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert represent clients fighting a wide range of criminal charges. Often times, we defend individuals in cases in which a variety of purported criminal acts are brought into question. These types of cases are especially complex and, unfortunately, they are often riddled with unfounded assumptions and baseless accusations.handcuffs-1156821-m.jpg

According to an article published by the Sun Sentinel, a 19-year-old woman was recently arrested in Broward County on charges that she, a supposed “escort,” murdered a client after he attempted to stiff her. According to local authorities, earlier this year, the young woman attacked the man and choked him to death in Lake Worth after he tried to flee without compensating her for the sexual services she had provided to him.
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The latest in a string of massage parlor arrests happened recently in Hallandale Beach, where three women were arrested on charges of prostitution, earning money from prostitution and practicing health care without a license.
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Our Broward criminal defense lawyers know that while prostitution is generally a misdemeanor offense – which means you aren’t automatically afforded an attorney – many law enforcement agencies are going after these crimes as felonies by attempting to spin them as instances of human trafficking.

It was on this basis back in January that officials with the Florida State Massage Therapy Association teamed up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. The goal is specifically to shut down so called “Oriental massage” parlors in which those practicing massage therapy aren’t actually licensed. At some of these locations it’s believe women, mostly Chinese nationals, have been held against their will and forced to engage in sex acts with clients.

The state of Florida requires that massage therapists have some 500 hours of experience and applying for a license is contingent upon passing a state board examination. The entire process costs between $10,000 and $20,000.

In the last several months, the task force has received more than five dozen reports of massage parlors that were either illegally operated or that were promoting prostitution.

But it’s not just unlicensed facilities that are getting caught up. In the course of these investigations, the board has revoked about 20 massage licenses, while another 55 have been voluntarily surrendered.

From a defense standpoint, the approach would be different, depending on which party we were defending. For someone accused of prostitution, we might argue that such action was not undertaken willfully and that this individual was a victim more than anything else.

A first-time prostitution offense carries a 60-day jail term, though most of our prostitution clients don’t end up serving anywhere near that. If we can prove that our client was a human trafficking victim, the charges could be dropped entirely.

However, with the defense of a massage parlor owner, more resources and an aggressive approach would be required, particularly if the individual is charged with human trafficking.

Florida Statute 796.045 holds that any person who knowingly recruits, harbors, entices, transports or obtains a person with the knowledge that coercion, fraud or force will be used to cause that individual to engage in prostitution, will be found guilty of a second-degree felony, which is punishable by 15 years in prison per count. That charge is bumped up to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if the individual procured is 14 or younger.

In the most recent case, the trio of women arrested were in their 30s and 40s. The arrest followed a sting operation involving two undercover officers.

In the first instance, the undercover officer entered the business early last month and was told to go into a back room, disrobe and lie on the massage table. He was given a massage on his back for about a half an hour before being instructed to turn over. Within a few minutes, he reported, the female masseuse offered to perform a sex act on him. He asked how much it would cost and she replied the cost was “a good tip.” He then said next time and the session quickly ended.

The next time, about three weeks later another officer paid $70 for an hour-long massage. The same reported scenario unfolded.

The arrests were initiated about a week later.
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Two women – one of them the wife of a police officer – were arrested for allegedly running a prostitution ring in Boca Raton. eyesdontsaylies.jpg

Palm Beach County criminal defense attorneys understand this was not a typical operation. There were no women trolling strips or waving down potential johns from the sidewalk. It wasn’t as high-end as some of the escort services you might find in Miami or Las Vegas either. Rather, it something in the middle.

Investigators say the two women who acted as madams to at least six escorts also prostituted themselves on occasion. Authorities say the pair made hundreds of thousands of dollars, with one owning a six-bedroom house in a gated community.

They are both now facing charges of money laundering and procuring prostitutes, but they evaded human trafficking charges because investigators said there was no evidence any of those who worked for the pair were doing so against their will. This was despite the fact that one of the women who worked for the two told investigators she had been forced into it.

The five-month investigation, involving city police, state police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was sparked by the detention of one of the escorts on an immigration violation. While she was in custody, she told immigration officials that she was forced into working as a prostitute over a period of nine months. She said she flew in from Brazil in the late summer of 2011, and was introduced to the two alleged madams, who were also Brazilian.

They reportedly offered a job and told her she needn’t engage in sexual intercourse with clients. The woman agreed, but when the two leaders of the operation learned she had no passport and was in the country illegally, they reportedly began to threaten that if she did not have sex with the male clients, they would turn her into immigration authorities.

It’s not clear whether the woman’s claims were verified or whether the others involved told similar stories. What we do know is that such allegations will likely become more frequent, even when those participating were doing so willingly. That’s because while willingly acting as a prostitute will get you a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year jail term, young persons deemed to be trafficking victims are exempt from prosecution and eligible for a host of services under the newly-implemented Safe Harbor Act, which went into effect Jan. 1 of this year.

Additionally, House Bill 7049, which went into effect last summer, not only boosted the authorization for wiretapping and in these cases, it increased the penalties for persons convicted of human trafficking. Specifically, the measure:
–Added various new human trafficking offenses to the list of offenses that qualify a person as a predator or sexual offender for registration purposes;
–Makes a number of human trafficking offenses first-degree felonies, punishable by up to life in prison;
–Makes human smuggling a third-degree felony, rather than a first-degree misdemeanor, which increased the maximum punishment from 1 year to 5 years.
–Makes it an increased offense if the alleged victim is under the age of 15.

In the case, none of this appears to have been at issue – though it’s unsurprising that such an allegation was made.
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We tend to think of charges involving Broward prostitution as being relatively minor – in and out of jail in a night or two. modelsilouette.jpg

However, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know that the state of Florida, and the federal government as well, has begun taking these crimes more seriously, going so far as to label some cases sex trafficking.

FL Statute 787.06 defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery in which alleged victims are subjected to coercion, fraud or force for the purpose of either forced labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If, however, that victim is under the age of 18, it becomes a life felony. If the victim is under the age of 15, it’s also a life felony, but the state has less of a burden to prove that the defendant knew of the victim’s young age.

The recent sex trafficking case out of Broward was actually handled in federal, U.S. District Court.

The defendant was convicted of enticing a 16-year-old girl from South Florida to participate in prostitution.

According to court records, the girl had worked as a prostitute for the defendant for a handful of months last year. He had reportedly sent her a message on a social networking site, asking if she wanted to work for him and offering her as much as $3,500 weekly.

It’s not clear how the two knew each other before, but she agreed to his offer and he began to set her up with “dates.” He took pictures of the girl naked and in other provocative poses, which he then posted on escort service sites. From there, he would arrange for the girl to meet dates in a local motel off the main highway in Hollywood. She was charging clients between $80 and $180 a session. The defendant then took all of the girl’s money at the end of the day, returning to her a cut of 40 percent.

The girl said she told him she was 16, but he ordered her to tell everyone else that she was actually 18.

Then in October of last year, the girl was arrested for an undisclosed crime. She was ordered to spend time at a residential center for juveniles, located in Pembroke Pines. Upon her release, she reportedly received another message from the defendant, asking her to return to work for him.

It was then that she went to authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigations got involved, and recorded subsequent phone conversations in which the defendant offered the girl a raise in order to continue working for him.

The 32-year-old defendant has entered a plea of guilty to a single charge of sex trafficking of a minor. His sentencing is scheduled for early next year, and he faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.

These are not crimes you can take lightly – whether you are the sex worker or the one accused of facilitating the work. Call us today to learn more about how we can defend your rights.
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A police officer has been arrested amid allegations that he solicited a prostitute in Pompano Beach recently. heels.jpg

Our Pompano Beach defense lawyers understand that this is a serious charge for an officer, particularly given that his arrest was the result of an undercover sting carried out by members of his own agency.

As spelled out in FL Statute 796.07, a first offense is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. That means it’s punishable by up to 60 days in jail, plus fines and other civil penalties.

But with an arrest like this, there is usually a great deal more at stake then simply the possibility of a few days in jail. It’s the embarrassment. It’s the potential implosion that such a revelation could have on your relationships at home. And, as in this case, it’s about what could happen if your employer finds out.

Our Pompano Beach prostitution defense lawyers understand the critical importance of discretion in these cases. Of course, if you are an officer or a high-ranking official, there may be no way to conceal certain details from the media. In those cases, having someone speak to the media for you can be a critical public relations move. The worst thing you can do in an already awful situation is give a statement that could potentially hurt your case – and then have it broadcast or published.

For those who aren’t in law enforcement or serving in public office, these cases can be handled discretely.

Either way, trying to pretend it didn’t happen isn’t going to help anyone. The best thing you can do is secure legal counsel immediately, and answer questions for no one.

In this case, not only is the involved officer under suspension, so is the sergeant who signed off on his arrest report.

The details we have on this case so far are sketchy, with police citing the ongoing internal investigation as a reason for being tight-lipped.

According to The Sun-Sentinel, the 40-year-old deputy reportedly offered $20 to a woman if she would give him oral sex. As it turned out, that woman was actually a colleague of his who was working undercover.

Now we don’t know exactly how the events unfolded after that point, except that the deputy, who had established a 10-year career with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was not immediately arrested. In fact, he wasn’t taken into custody until four hours later. The location of his arrest is listed as a sports bar and grill in Coral Springs.

Presumably, the suspension of the arresting officer has to do with this point, although we don’t know that yet.

Both have been suspended with pay.

An attorney for the deputy facing charges was quoted as saying that the alleged act appeared to be a cry for help, and implored the department to offer him the option of treatment, rather than termination.
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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.
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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.
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ABC News reports that a woman who identifies herself as a prostitute was arrested after allegedly carjacking a man and leading police on a chase in West Palm Beach.

Prostitution in West Palm Beach is the oldest profession known to man and while law enforcement tries to get a handle on it, it will continue in one form or another. And that goes for the people who attempt to purchase the services of a prostitute as well.
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Police officers are constantly putting together sting operations where female officers dress as prostitutes to try to arrest people who may be seeking. But there are situations during these sting operations where officers can entrap a suspect, leading to an unlawful arrest.

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers should be called in to defend a person who was enticed by police into asking for prostitute services. Entrapment is rare, but it does happen. It means luring someone into committing a crime they normally wouldn’t commit. Regardless, a charge of prostitution or solicitation should be properly defended.

In these sting operations, an example would be if a person pulled up to an undercover officer in a car and began talking with them about how much it would cost, but they don’t ask the “prostitute” to get into their vehicle, but the officer persists and convinces them to pick them up.

In a situation like this, the person may be having second thoughts, but the officer convinces the “John” to go through with the deal, leading to an arrest. While officers should be trained to avoid such behavior, there have been instances where this happens.

According to the news story, the woman, who claims she is a prostitute, said she was picked up by a man near 10th Avenue North and Dixie Highway one weekday night. As they were sitting in the vehicle, she allegedly decided she didn’t want to have sex with the man and when he got out of his vehicle, she jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off.

As police pursued her, she allegedly hit several vehicles en route to Interstate 95. She eventually ditched the car and ran away before she was chased down by police and arrested. She now faces charges of carjacking and fleeing from police and was being held on $50,000 bond.

The man says that he borrowed his friend’s car and was sending a money order when a woman and a man pulled him out of his car, hit him and took the car, driving over his foot. There’s no word on the other mystery man.

This is an interesting case because there are two completely different stories of how this came to be. In the one situation, the woman allegedly admits to taking the vehicle, but the man, likely fearing people would judge him for picking up a prostitute, says he was pulled from the vehicle by two people.
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Police recently conducted a sting to make arrests for prostitution in Fort Lauderdale on Federal Highway just south of downtown, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession– accepting money for sex — but in Florida it is still a crime. Police are consistently holding raids to try to arrest people for soliciting prostitution as well as arresting the prostitutes. Crackdowns on online massage therapists or those advertising through classifieds is an even grayer area of enforcement. While it is a misdemeanor to seek a prostitute, it can be one of the more embarrassing crimes to be charged with and therefore should be defended by an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney. Too often, an embarassed defendent will quickly plead guilty in an effort to put the incident in the rearview mirror. We think that’s a mistake. Having a prostitution or solicitation conviction on your record can impact your life for years to come.
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According to the Sun Sentinel, police have averaged between 171 and 334 prostitution-related arrests each year over the past five years. So far this year, however, the department has only made 66 arrests. Businesses and residents complained that the highway has been the scene of prostitution, which they say is scaring away customers and bringing in other types of crime to their neighborhood.

So, the department set up a sting where an undercover officer with scantily clad clothes walked the streets. Eight men — ages 26 to 54 — were arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Police videotaped the transactions.

In these types of cases, entrapment is definitely an area an experienced criminal defense attorney will pursue in defense of the suspect. Entrapment means when police coerce a person into committing a crime they wouldn’t normally commit. For instance, if a person pulls over to talk to an undercover officer posing as a prostitute and decides to leave, but the officer urges them to stay, that could be considered entrapment because it was the officer’s words or actions that caused them to commit the crime.

Stings of any kind that police put together must be carefully conducted within the bounds of the law in order for the evidence they collect to stand at trial. And challenging the evidence is key to a successful defense.

But police sometimes conduct these raids in order to look for more serious crimes, such as human trafficking, sex slavery and underage prostitution. That’s when a seemingly less-than-serious misdemeanor offense can begin to turn into the more serious felony offenses that lead to serious prison time.

According to Florida Statutes 796, prostitution is defined as “giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.”

The chapter goes on to define how it is illegal to pimp a prostitute, seek out someone who is under 18 for purposes of prostitution, sell or buy minors into sex trafficking or prostitution and other prostitution-related crimes. The penalties range from months in jail to decades in prison, as the trafficking charges can be charged as first-degree felonies punishable by 30 years in prison.
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Our Broward prostitution defense attorneys have learned that authorities in South Florida arrested 84 people last week in a three-day sweep that was aimed at finding underage girls who were forced into prostitution. Operation Cross Country IV was a joint task force with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and Miami-Dade, Miami Beach, and Miami police.

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In Broward County, the task force arrested nine people. Seventy-five people were arrested in Miami-Dade County, and twenty-four of those were arrested on Miami Beach. Authorities also say a 14-year-old girl was rescued in the Miami Beach prostitution sweep.

The arrests were made on a variety of charges such as deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution, transportation for prostitution, possession of cocaine, and offering to engage in prostitution.

84 arrested in Miami-Dade, Broward counties as part of anti-prostitution operation, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 26, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_prostitution.jpgA few weeks ago, following the murder of a prostitute who had reportedly posted on Craigslist, the online classified site voluntarily removed its “Erotic Services” ads. Prior to that incident, Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin had proposed a bill to ban such ads from Craigslist and other newspapers and websites. The bill never made it to a vote, but the Hillsborough County Republican says she may introduce similar legislation next session. She sees the changes at Craigslist as a positive step.

However, the sudden change has caused concern among many of Broward County’s prostitutes. One prostitute, who spoke anonymously to a reporter from the New Times of Broward-Palm Beach, said she was able to make over $1,000 per day before Craigslist removed its “Erotic Service” section, and now barely earns $600 per week. Instead of advertising in the “Erotic Service” section, the Florida woman said she now uses the new “Adult Service” section to post a short ad with her face and phone number.

According to the woman, “Nobody at Craigslist is trying to protect the girls doing this. They’re just protecting themselves.”

Local Prostitute Talks About Craigslist Woes, BrowardPalmBeach.com, May 22, 2009 Continue reading

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