Prostitution is illegal across the United States and Virginia is no exception. Taking part in prostitution as a prostitute or customer is against the law. However, while it is known to be illegal, there are many people who are arrested for sex crimes related to the act. They might not realize their behavior is illegal, or they might be confronted by false accusations due to a misunderstanding. Knowing the laws regarding this issue is an important factor in crafting a defense.
Under Virginia law, prostitution includes a variety of sexual acts between two people in exchange for one of the participants paying money to the other. If a person makes an offer for money or the equivalent to commit any of these sexual acts, that person can face charges for a Class 1 misdemeanor.
A person who solicits prostitution of a minor who is 16 or older will be charged with a Class 6 felony. If the solicited person is younger than 16, the charge will be of a Class 5 felony.
Being convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor can lead to up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both. A conviction for a Class 6 felony can result in a prison sentence of a minimum of one year and as many as five years. The judge has the discretion to penalize a person convicted of a Class 6 felony for the same term and fines as for a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 5 felony can result in imprisonment for a least one year and up to ten years. This too is subject to the discretion of the judge.
While these charges and penalties are significant enough to harm a person’s personal and professional life, that doesn’t account for the damage to reputation and other problems that accompany a criminal trial. When confronted with these charges, it is imperative to discuss the matter with an attorney who has extensive experience in defending clients who are arrested for acts related to prostitution.
Source: Code of Virginia, “18.2-346. Prostitution; commercial sexual conduct; commercial exploitation of a minor; penalties,” accessed on Mar. 1, 2016