Being accused of prostitution, or any related offense, in the state of Washington is an incredibly stressful prospect that can raise a litany of anxiety-inducing questions. If you or someone you love is being accused of violating Washington State prostitution laws, understanding the context and application of those laws is imperative.
Below we’ll discuss prostitution laws and penalties as well as the steps to take when facing these charges.
Understanding Washington State Prostitution Laws
Prostitution is illegal in Washington State, along with a range of associated crimes. These include:
- Soliciting or patronizing
- Pimping and promoting
- Permitting prostitution
Acquiring an experienced criminal defense attorney’s guidance can be extremely advantageous for those who have been accused of any of these crimes. This is true whether you’re simply weighing the legal options regarding how to move forward or if you’re in the process of mounting a sound and substantive defense.
What is Legally Considered Prostitution in Washington State?
Under current Washington State prostitution laws, “prostitution” is committed when a person: “engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.”
However, Washington statutes also cover other actions related to prostitution. In other words, a person does not have to be the one offering sexual contact in exchange for a fee to violate Washington State prostitution laws. Patronizing and promoting are separate but related violations.
Patronizing Prostitution (Soliciting)
One offense related to prostitution is known as “patronizing” or “soliciting.” According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.88.110, patronizing occurs when a person “pays a fee to another person as compensation” for sexual conduct, or “solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her in return for a fee.”
Therefore, beyond the actual exchange of money for sexual contact, signaling clear intent to solicit prostitution services is also a violation of Washington State prostitution laws.
Promoting Prostitution (Pimping)
Another related offense is that of promoting, also called “pimping.” Promoting does not involve engaging directly in providing prostitution services or directly soliciting those services. Rather, promoting prostitution involves facilitating or advancing prostitution.
Under the current Washington State prostitution laws, first degree and second degree promoting are distinct offenses that carry different consequences.
According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.88.070, first degree promoting of prostitution occurs when a person knowingly advances prostitution by “compelling a person by threat or force to engage in prostitution” or by “compelling a person with a mental incapacity or developmental disability that renders the person incapable of consent to engage in prostitution.”
First degree promoting of prostitution is a class B felony and is a serious offense. Second degree promoting of prostitution occurs when someone knowingly “profits from” or “advances” prostitution (without threat or force) – Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.88.080. This violation is categorized as a class C felony.
Penalties, Fines and Other Consequences
If you’re on the fence about enlisting a criminal defense attorney to help, learn about the punishments you could face if found guilty.
Committing the offenses detailed above can result in a range of potential penalties and punishments for the offending individual. The specific punishments for violations of these laws will depend on the specific circumstances of the offense.
Engaging in prostitution or solicitation are both misdemeanors in Washington, which can each incur fines of up to $1,000, up to ninety days of jail time, or both. Engaging in first-degree promoting of prostitution is a class B felony that can result in fines of up to $20,000, up to ten years in prison, or both.
Second degree promoting of prostitution, on the other hand, is a class C felony, which can result in a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
Due to the severe consequences that accompany a prostitution-related conviction, getting legal assistance is a wise decision. An experienced attorney will help you fight the charges every step of the way.
You’ve Been Accused of a Prostitution Offense. Now What?
If you have been accused of violating any of the Washington State prostitution laws, having access to experienced legal professionals is vital. Contact a capable criminal defense attorney who will gather all of the legally relevant evidence in your case, secure the protection of your rights, and mount a strong defense on your behalf.
At Will & Will, we have over 35 years of combined criminal defense experience. We offer an intricate knowledge of the legal process in defense of those accused of crimes, such as those detailed above.
If you have been accused of any of these crimes, you do not have to navigate this immense legal challenge alone. Contact us for legal support today.