Annual Permits for Hotels and Motels Proposed to Deter Prostitution and Solicitation Crimes in Columbus

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Columbus officials are working to implement a new plan that would create stronger regulations on hotels and motels in the city in an attempt to curb solicitation and prostitution crimes occurring at the businesses, according to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch.

The Columbus City Council plans to hold a hearing on the proposed law on July 30, 2015, after more than one year of planning and drafting. According to the article, the law would require annual permits for hotel and motel operators. If the business has a high crime rate, the permit to operate could be denied.

Officials who drafted the law studied a similar one that was adopted in Chula Vista, California, in 2006. The city, located near San Diego, can deny annual hotel and motel permits if officials decide the businesses had too many arrests related to drugs and prostitution. This regulation would be the first of its kind in Ohio.

Several Columbus area hotel and motel businesses have been involved in controversial crime stories in recent years. Three motels near the Interstate 71 and Route 161 interchange that were widely known as a site for drug and prostitution crimes have been closed by court order.

Law enforcement officers with the Columbus Ohio Division of Police typically use these locations for undercover sting operations. An undercover office may pose as a prostitute near the motel and another officer would arrest those who solicit him or her for sexual acts.

In many of these cases, an entrapment defense comes into play because the undercover police officers posing as prostitutes tend to use aggressive techniques to pursue the unsuspecting man to engage in conduct that could be considered soliciting a prostitute.

Ohio law states soliciting a prostitute is a third-degree misdemeanor for a first offense. This could be punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. In these cases, the person does not have to be an actual prostitute for it to qualify as an offense.

For instance, if a person solicits an undercover police officer to engage in sexual activity in exchange for compensation, he or she still could face solicitation charges. Additionally, the compensation does not have to be money. It could be any type of good, service or object, including narcotics.

Ohio law also outlines loitering in an attempt to solicit a prostitute a criminal offense. According to state law, a person who is attempting to solicit another to engage in sexual activity for hire while in or near a public place cannot do any of the following:

  • Beckon to, stop or attempt to stop another person;
  • Engage or attempt to engage another in conversation;
  • Stop or attempt to stop a vehicle operator; or
  • Interfere with the passage of another.

A public place, according to the law, could mean a street, road, highway, bikeway, walkway, bridge, alley, plaza, park, driveway and a parking lot. Loitering near a hotel or motel with the intent to solicit a person for sexual activity could result in an arrest.

Although being accused of a solicitation or prostitution crime could feel like the end of the world, there are options for building a strong defense. Weakening the prosecution’s case before it even goes to trial could help to ensure your life remains on track. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

Contact Columbus solicitation attorney Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm. Brian Joslyn has years of experience fighting for the rights of those accused of solicitation. He understands the sensitivity of your charges, and he will work with you discretely to solve your issues. Your future and reputation are important, and Brian can help you protect both. Call (614) 444-1900 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced Columbus solicitation defense attorney.

Solicitation Stings Changing in Ohio, but Alleged Offenders Still Have Options for Defenses

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Law enforcement officers and agencies throughout the country are changing the way in which they target those suspected of prostitution and solicitation. In some instances, agencies even have utilized online solicitation websites to garner arrests and more information into the local prostitution business.

In Ohio, some law enforcement agencies have used the adult entertainment classified site backpage.com to make prostitution-related arrests. According to WHIO, Dayton police officers arrested a man for solicitation after he responded to an advertisement on the website placed by the department’s Vice Crimes Unit.

Police departments long have used sting operations to make prostitution and solicitation arrests. Many times, undercover officers would pose as prostitutes and officers would arrest those who solicit the officer. Now, as technology changes, departments are utilizing the Internet for these decoy solicitation operations.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241, solicitation is defined as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation. In these instances, the act does not necessarily have to be committed for the charge to apply.

For instance, if a person is accused of soliciting an undercover officer and suggesting he or she will pay for some sort of sexual act, other officers likely would make the arrest and the act would not occur. Simply offering or attempting to persuade someone is enough for the arrest.

Additionally, the compensation offered does not have to be monetary. For example, a person could be arrested and charged with solicitation if he offers an undercover officer some other type of benefit in exchange for sex. This benefit could be goods, drugs, transportation or any other object.

Solicitation of a prostitute generally is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, the biggest consequence associated with a charge for solicitation is the possibility of a criminal record.

Once a person is convicted of solicitation, the information becomes public record. This means future employers, family members and even spouses can see your criminal history. Although the court-issued punishments may seem minor, a conviction could have a long lasting effect on the social and personal aspects of a person’s life.

Some offenders could be eligible for a diversion program, often called a “John School.” During this program, participants are educated on the risks and dangers of soliciting a prostitute and the health risks associated with participating in sexual activity with a prostitute.

Additionally, participants in the program also will hear from former sex workers who have since stopped working as a prostitute. They explain what their lives were like and how they were affected by their former professions. The goal of the program is to decrease the likeliness of the person to re-offend.

If the program is successfully completed, the offender could have the charges against him or her dropped. This could mean avoiding time behind bars and not having a criminal record. However, being accepted into the diversion program can be difficult. The programs often are full and finding space for an offender can be tricky.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can make the difference in your case. Whether it is getting the charges dropped or getting an offender enrolled in a John School, the attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm can help you avoid a damning criminal record. Our law firm is honest with our clients and discrete with their information. No matter your situation, we can help you quietly solve your criminal charges.

If you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute, contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900. Our experienced attorneys can help you move on with your life after the allegations. You future is important, and so is protecting your reputation. Call today to schedule a free consultation about your unique case.

Massage Parlor Raids Could Lead to Solicitation for Prostitution Charges

Agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force raided four Ohio massage parlors suspected of prostitution last month, resulting in the arrest of two people who now face criminal charges.

Xiao Shuang Chao and Qing Xu, both from Columbus, were arrested, although they denied their involvement in charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and promoting prostitution at Amsun Massage in Powell.  Qing Xu’s sister, Estella Xu, also is accused in the crime.

According to Olentangy Valley News, the three suspects each face one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, which is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, up to $20,000 in fines or both. They each face eight counts of promoting prostitution, a fourth-degree felony which could mean between six and 18 months in prison along with up to $5,000 in fines.

The suspects also are charged with three counts of practice of medicine or surgery without a certificate, a fifth-degree felony carrying up to 12 months in prison, and three counts of money laundering, a third-degree felony which could mean up to five years in prison.

In cases such as this, those who are patrons of the massage businesses could be mistaken for johns who are in search of prostitution. Often times during raids like this handfuls of men and women are arrested and charged with solicitation of a prostitute. This is considered a sex crime in Ohio, and the charge could have serious consequences.

Solicitation of a prostitute  is defined by the Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241 as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation.

The compensation offered or received for the sexual act does not have to be of currency, as most people would think. In solicitation cases, the compensation could be goods, drugs, transportation or any other object or service of monetary value, such as jewelry, clothing or other items.

Additionally, a person can be charged with solicitation even if the person he or she alleged solicited was not a prostitute. For instance, if a massage therapist at a spa alleges a patron solicited her for some sort of sexual activity, he or she still could face criminal charges, no matter if she is a prostitute or not.

This often applies in situations where undercover police officers will impersonate prostitutes in an attempt to lure in those who could potentially be searching for prostitutes. If a person stops and solicits an undercover officer for sexual activity, he or she still could be arrested.

Soliciting prostitution typically is considered a third-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, the social stigma could have a much greater impact on a person’s life.

If the prostitution actually takes place, a person can be charged with compelling prostitution which is a much more serious offense. It is considered a third-degree felony and is punishable by between one and five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

If the alleged offender compels an individual who is between the ages of 16 and 18 to participate in prostitution, he or she can face second-degree felony charges and be sentenced to between two and eight years in prison, forced to pay a $15,000 fine or both.

Compelling an individual for prostitution who is younger than 16 years old is considered a first-degree felony. This could mean between three and 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000 or both.

If you are arrested for soliciting a prostitute or compelling prostitution, it is important you understand the severity of the charges you face and how the allegations could affect the personal and professional aspects of your life.

A Columbus solicitation defense attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can be discrete with your case and make sure your rights are protected and represented. Although the arrest is public information, some measures can be taken to ensure this mistake or misunderstanding does not severely disrupt your life. Call 614-444-1900 to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.