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Prostitution solicitation usually includes two people but may involve a combination of three parties. There is the prostitute, the person offering to perform a sex act in exchange for some form of payment. There is the client, the person offering to pay for the sex act. And there may be a person serving as an agent or promoter of the transaction. So, you have a prostitute, a client and possibly, a pimp or a madam.
However, the third party can be anyone who assists in the negotiation. The third party does not have to be a professional. A buddy who arranges a paid sexual encounter for his friend faces serious charges. But when most people ask questions about prostitution solicitation they’re referring to either the sex worker or the client.
Stereotypically, people commonly think of a prostitute as female and the customer as male. However, by law, prostitution is prostitution regardless of the gender of either party. The sexual orientation of either person is also irrelevant.
The venue is also unimportant. For example, if solicitation takes place at a bar with a reputation for casual hookups, it’s still prostitution. Likewise, if the solicitation occurs at a private party, legally it’s also prostitution.
The police can easily charge someone with prostitution solicitation. A suspect does not have to complete a sex act. He doesn’t even have to initiate a sex act. All he has to do is enter into a business agreement to either perform or receive a sex act for payment.
That’s why the police can charge someone who agrees to pay an undercover officer who’s posing as a prostitute. The undercover officer doesn’t need to engage in any sex act to provide a legal basis for the charge.
The same principle applies to an undercover officer posing as a customer. He doesn’t have to have sex with the prostitute to make a case. The prostitute’s agreement to perform the service is all that is needed.
Even if the agreement is in jest, it could still present legal difficulties. A college student on spring break cannot escape trouble by saying that he was only joking and flirting with the officer.
The days when sex buyers had little to worry about are gone. Authorities realize that the only way to make a real dent in the illegal sex trade is to go after the buyers.
Some might mistakenly still think that there is a loophole in Rhode Island state law when it comes to prostitution. That is not the case, and it hasn’t been the case for several years.
In 1980 the Rhode Island legislature voted to reduce prostitution from a felony to a misdemeanor. But the restructuring of the law inadvertently eliminated the section that names prostitution explicitly as a crime. It only pinpointed solicitation on the street as illegal. In other words, a poorly drafted law accidentally made prostitution legal as long as it did not take place outdoors.
Massage parlors soon proliferated. They were little more than brothels operating behind a legitimate business license.
The issue came to light with the state’s 2003 case against several of those massage parlors. A judge dismissed the case against eight women who worked at various massage parlors. According to the loophole, the judge ruled that nothing illegal took place. The word was out: indoor prostitution solicitation is legal in Rhode Island.
A new law signed in 2009 finally closed the legal loophole. The state was no longer the only American state with legalized prostitution throughout its entire territory. So today, despite any persistent urban legends to the contrary, prostitution of all kinds is indeed illegal in Rhode Island.
That includes sex trade conducted by computer and electronic communication. Those who grew up with computers and smartphones might primarily think of sex workers on the internet not on the street corner.
Modern sex workers consider arranging appointments over the internet as much safer than doing so on the street. It may physically be safer, but it’s legally just as dangerous. The same applies to the sex buyer. Purchasing prostitution over the internet carries the same dangers as doing so in person.
For starters, prostitutes aren’t the only ones who find it safer to work online. So do police officers posing undercover as both sex sellers and as sex buyers.
Stay on the right side of the law by not engaging in any conversation with a stranger on the subject of sex for hire. The wages might be in some form other than money, but that doesn’t make it legal. It remains prostitution solicitation.
And remember not to even joke about it. It might appear humorous at the time, but it’s no laughing matter when you end up on the wrong side of the law.