It began on January 1, 2013. Florida’s lawmakers have decided that a new fine should be implemented in all prostitution cases.
However, the fine applies only to section (2)(f) of the prostitution statute, 796.07. Section (2)(f) states that it is unlawful to:
To solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
So this new fine is not attacking those who are selling sexual services for money. The fine is actually going after those who solicit, or try to buy the services, of alleged prostitutes.
The new fine is $5,000.
Yup. That’s right. $5,000 for a crime that’s a misdemeanor.
The Florida legislature, in an effort to crack down on those who attempt to procure the services of prostitutes, instituted a civil penalty of $5,000 “if the violation results in any judicial disposition other than acquittal or dismissal.”
This means that if you are enrolling in Pretrial Diversion, you should not have to pay the $5,000 fine because the case will ultimately be dismissed.
However, if you are not eligible for Pretrial Diversion, the next level of punishment is typically six months of probation. Since the disposition in that instance would not be dismissal, you would be required to pay the $5,000 fine as a condition of your probation.
Since it is a condition of probation, you could face a violation of probation if you failed to pay it.
This fine is intended to deter the solicitation of prostitution. Namely, it’s a step intended to target more serious crimes involving prostitution, such as the prostitution of underage children and human trafficking.
However, this means that for those who are not eligible for PTD, many of these prostitution cases will be proceeding to trial instead of being resolved by plea.
Solicitation of prostitution is a second-degree misdemeanor for your first offense, a first-degree misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal attorney and Broward criminal attorney representing clients charged with prostitution offenses in Miami-Dade and Broward.