Man with his hands handcuffed

What happens when a non-citizen is arrested for prostitution in Houston?

Every month, law enforcement officers in Houston make dozens of arrests for prostitution and solicitation of prostitution. Under Texas law, prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are punished differently. But what happens when a person who is undocumented or is not a United States citizen is arrested for prostitution? This article talks about what an undocumented person or non-United States citizen can expect if they are arrested for prostitution in Houston. 

How are prostitution cases investigated in Houston?

In Houston, almost all people charged with prostitution or solicitation of prostitution are charged after an undercover sting of some type. Prostitution requires proof that there is a knowing agreement to exchange money for some sexual act. In order to obtain evidence of this type of agreement, the police will pose as either a prostitute or as a buyer of sex. Then they will attempt to make an agreement with the suspect to exchange money for a sexual act. These stings take place in a variety of places in the Houston area known for prostitution including websites, streets and strip clubs. 

What happens when a non-citizen or undocumented person is arrested for prostitution in Houston? 

When an undocumented person is arrested for prostitution, they will be charged with either prostitution or solicitation of prostitution. In Texas, a first-time prostitution offense is a misdemeanor, although a first-time arrest for solicitation of prostitution is a felony

In either case, the defendant will be taken to downtown Houston to be processed and appear before a magistrate judge, who will set bond conditions and a bond amount. The person will typically have to pay a bond to be released from jail. 

If the person is undocumented, it is very important that the person bond out of jail as quickly as possible after bring arrested for prostitution. At the Harris County jail, there are immigration officials who could detain a person after a prostitution arrest. When a person is detained by immigration officials at the Harris County jail, a “hold” is placed that prevents them from bonding out of jail. In other words, if a person is given an immigration hold, they will remain at the Harris County Jail until their prostitution case is resolved and then be transferred to immigration custody.

What are the immigration consequences of a prostitution case?

To understand the consequences of a prostitution arrest, it is always best to speak with an immigration attorney. At Ceja Law Firm, our attorneys handle criminal matters and do not practice immigration law. However, we are very conscious of the fact that it is absolutely critical to obtain a dismissal or an acquittal of a prostitution charge due to the severe immigration consequences that can result from a conviction. 

How can you get a prostitution arrest dismissed in Houston?

There are many strategies to get a prostitution case dismissed. The first step is always to obtain the evidence allegedly showing an agreement to exchange money for sex. An effective criminal defense lawyer will always challenge the elements that the State must prove. In a prostitution case, the element that is most frequently challenged involves the existence of a knowing agreement to exchange money for sex. For example, at Ceja Law Firm, we have had prostitution cases dismissed because the defendant did not understand what the undercover officer said (and did not knowingly enter into an agreement) due to a language barrier or loud music. But even where it appears that the facts are not on our side, it is frequently possible to negotiate a dismissal of the charges. An experienced prostitution defense attorney should be knowledgeable regarding all the options to get the case dismissed. 

Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who regularly obtains dismissals of prostitution cases in Houston. Mr. Ceja and his staff are all fluent in Spanish and highly experienced with handling cases from non-citizen and undocumented clients. If you are charged with prostitution anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today.