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The Newly Amended Florida Solicitation of Prostitution Statute and How the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office is Reacting to It

The Newly Amended Florida Solicitation of Prostitution Statute and How the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office is Reacting to It
The newly amended Florida Solicitation of Prostitution Statute §796.607(2)(f) is having some harsh consequences for those charged with the misdemeanor crime in Pinellas County, Florida. Because of the portion of the statute that went into effect in 2013 and then was amended effective Oct 2015, it is now mandated that those charged with first-time solicitation of prostitution are now subject to a civil penalty (or fine) of $5,000.00. Thus, the stakes for someone charged with this crime just escalated dramatically. As has been much publicized, the St. Petersburg Police Department and Clearwater Police Department have been regularly running undercover stings to ferret out this type of criminal activity. Many of the defendants are not Florida residents and have become entangled while on vacation or visiting the area. Specifically, the St. Petersburg cases have almost all been located on the 34th St. N corridor with female officers posing as prostitutes. What were historically simple cases that had a huge deterrent effect solely based on the stigma of the arrest and charge, have now become much more difficult given the recent directive of State Attorney Bernie McCabe about how these cases are to be handled by the State Attorney’s Office Misdemeanor Division. No longer are cases to be amended or pled without the imposition of the $5,000.00 fine. This change in policy is going to have drastic effects on those charged with this crime in Pinellas County and all the more reason why consultation with a lawyer is necessary to provide the appropriate defense of the matter. I am available to discuss cases further at (727)381-2300 or can be reached at smcqu@brdwlaw.com.

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