How serious is a first-time arrest for solicitation of prostitution?

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Prostitution is illegal in Texas and solicitation of prostitution is a frequently charged criminal offense. Although a first-time arrest for solicitation of prostitution is unlikely to result in jail time, the potential punishment and secondary consequences of a prostitution arrest can be severe and leave a permanent mark on your criminal history and reputation. Fortunately, there is hope of putting a prostitution arrest behind you and protecting your record and future. To maximize your chances of beating a prostitution case, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  

In September 2021, Texas became the first state in the nation to make a first-time arrest for solicitation of prostitution (as the buyer of sex) a State Jail Felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in jail. This significantly increased the potential sentence of a prostitution conviction, as well as gave it the additional stigma associated with a felony. But as noted above, it’s unlikely that a first-time prostitution arrest would ever result in jail time. What is a more realistic worst-case scenario is that a person ends up on probation with a prostitution conviction on your record.  

Apart from the potential legal consequences, the personal and professional consequences of a first-time prostitution arrest can depend on a person’s age, occupation and professional goals. A retired person who is independently wealthy, for example, may suffer very little negative personal and professional consequences over a first-time arrest for prostitution. On the other hand, for a younger person who would like to obtain a professional license, or obtain a competitive job, a first-time prostitution arrest can be a major setback. Similarly, if you are not a United States Citizen, a prostitution arrest can jeopardize your legal status or your chance of obtaining citizenship. 

Although prostitution is subject to the same sentencing range throughout the State of Texas, the result of your case will largely be influenced by other factors, such as your criminal history, age and county you are arrested in. In the Greater Houston area, the county of arrest can have a huge impact on the outcome of your prostitution case. Unfortunately, many counties, such as Montgomery County or Fort Bend County, will typically want anyone who is arrested for prostitution to be placed on probation while counties such as Harris County are more progressive and realize that there is little value in saddling a first-time prostitution defendant with a criminal history. 

Although you cannot change the county your case is filed in, your criminal defense attorney can work to make a positive outcome more likely by aggressively challenging every element of your case. In any prostitution case, your attorney must obtain all of the evidence that the State of Texas will rely on for its case, including the offense report and video or audio of the alleged offense (remember – in Texas, the offense of prostitution is complete when there is an agreement to exchange money for some sexual service). Quite often, the alleged agreement in a prostitution case is vague, or non-existent, and it is the responsibility of a criminal defense attorney to investigate this possible defense. 

The goal of a prostitution case is to obtain a dismissal or an acquittal (a verdict of “not guilty”) at trial, so that you would be eligible to have your records expunged. In a first-time prostitution case, an expunction is the best possible result as it leads to the destruction of records relating to the arrest and even gives you the legal right to deny that the arrest ever took place in most instances. 

If you have been charged with first-time prostitution, it is understandable that you may be feeling anxious and depressed, but a positive resolution of your case is possible. It is very important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Call Ceja Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.