In recent years, there has been increasingly intense political pressure to go after anyone alleged to be a part of the sex trafficking industry. The result of this is that many innocent people are charged with crimes, including Promotion of Prostitution, by overzealous law enforcement officers eager to make an arrest, even in questionable circumstances. In the Houston area, those charged with Promotion of Prostitution are typically alleged to be owners or managers of massage parlors, strip clubs or nightclubs where prostitution is believed to take place. A person alleged to be a “pimp” can also be charged with Promotion of Prostitution for taking a cut from the earnings of prostitutes that work in the street.
These cases can be difficult for law enforcement to prove due to the elements of the offense the State of Texas must establish. If you are charged with Promotion of Prostitution, you need an experienced attorney in your corner to help you protect your record and your freedom. The goal should always be to get your case dismissed and eventually, to have your records expunged.
What are the elements of Promotion of Prostitution?
Under Texas Penal Code 43.04, the offense of Promotion of Prostitution requires that a person, other than the prostitute, receive compensation for knowingly receiving money or other property under an agreement to participate in the proceedings of prostitution or solicit another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.
Promotion of Prostitution is a third-degree felony with a potential sentence of 2-10 years and a $10,000 fine for a first offense. If you have a previous conviction, you are facing a second-degree felony with a potential sentence of 2-20 years and a $10,000 fine. Finally, Promotion of Prostitution is a first-degree felony if the offense is alleged to involve a person younger than 18 years old engaging in prostitution, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person at the time of the offense.
How to Defend a Promotion of Prostitution Charge
The correct strategy to defend a Promotion of Prostitution charge will depend on the nature of the allegation, the background of the defendant (including criminal history) and where the case is filed. As noted above, the goal in a Promotion of Prostitution charge is to obtain a dismissal of the case.
The Promotion of Prostitution statute is very broad and potentially encompasses a wide range of alleged behaviors. In the Houston area, most Promotion of Prostitution cases are filed against the owners or operators of businesses where sexual activity is known to take place, such as massage parlors, strip clubs, or nightclubs.
In any criminal case, it is the burden of the State of Texas to prove all of the elements of Promotion of Prostitution. It is important to understand that owning or managing a venue where prostitution takes place is not enough to be convicted of Promotion of Prostitution. In this type of case, it isn’t even enough that a person knew there was prostitution taking place at a business. The State must prove that the defendant knowingly received money as a part of an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution.
Proving this specific knowledge can often be a problem for the State of Texas in Promotion of Prostitution cases. It is not uncommon for women who work in sexually oriented establishments or massage parlors to engage in prostitution without any kind of agreement or profit-sharing with management. Therefore, the State must present some type of evidence that a defendant entered into an agreement if they would like to pursue a charge. To be able to evaluate your case, your criminal defense lawyer should obtain all of the evidence in the case, including witness statements, offense reports, videos, and even financial records. In some cases, the main “evidence” against a defendant may come from an alleged prostitute who has agreed to testify in return for a lighter sentence. In these situations, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be ready to expose the witness’ motive to lie and unreliable testimony.
How are these cases typically resolved?
Criminal cases, including Promotion of Prostitution cases, are typically resolved by either dismissal, plea, or trial. Your case could be dismissed if your criminal defense lawyer can establish that the case against you is weak and cannot be proved. An aggressive criminal defense attorney can make a dismissal more likely by being proactive and launching his own investigation, which can include taking witness statements to prove that a person charged is innocent. On occasion, a Grand Jury Packet is a tool an experienced criminal defense attorney might use in a Promotion of Prostitution case.
If the case is not dismissed, then a person charged with Promotion of Prostitution will typically have to choose between a trial and a plea agreement. Your criminal defense attorney should revue the evidence against you in detail and help you make an informed decision as to how to resolve your case. Because trial may be the correct choice in some cases, it is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney experienced in criminal trials.
Contact Our Houston Prostitution Defense Attorney Today
Attorney Jose Ceja handles sex cases and prostitution cases throughout the Greater Houston area. He is a former prosecutor who understands police investigations and prides himself on taking a proactive approach to help his clients. If you are charged with Promotion of Prostitution anywhere in the Greater Houston area, Mr. Ceja is an excellent choice to protect your record and your freedom. Contact our Houston criminal defense attorney today to discuss your case.