In the past month, there have been a couple of solicitation of prostitution
sting operations in Lincoln, Nebraska. The sting operations in Lincoln
are similar to others in Omaha, throughout Nebraska, and the rest of the
United States. During these sting operations, a law enforcement officer
will pose as a prostitute on an internet site such as Backpage.com or
Craigslist.com and provide a listing under escorts or some other category.
The listing will provide contact information about a person posing as
a prostitute. The goal of the sting operation is to get people to meet
with the fake escort so that police can arrest them for soliciting a prostitute.
Under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-801.01, a person who solicits another
to perform any act of sexual contact or sexual penetration in exchange
for money or other thing of value commits solicitation of prostitution.
Solicitation of prostitution is a Class I misdemeanor which carries up
to one year in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. However, if the person
solicited is under the age of 18, it is a felony. Additionally if the
suspect has a prior solicitation conviction, the prior conviction may
be used to enhance the new solicitation charge to a felony.
In a solicitation of prostitution case, the government must prove beyond
a reasonable doubt the criminal defendant intended to perform a sex act
(sexual contact or sexual penetration) with the prostitute in exchange
for money or a thing of value.
While there are defenses to these cases, the fact that the law enforcement
officer who posed as a prostitute denied she was not a cop is not a defense
and in most cases is not entrapment. Additionally in complex string operations,
real prostitutes who have cooperation plea agreements or non-prosecution
agreements may also participate and pose as prostitutes for purposes of
the string operation.
In some cases there may be valid defenses. While prostitution is illegal
and escort services are generally fronts for prostitution services, some
defendants have argued that they intended to hire the escort for legitimate
escort services. For instance, the defendant went to meet-up to determine
if he was interested in using the escort services in the future and did
not intend to have sex with the escort, but merely wanted to meet the
escort to see if the escort was presentable for valid escort-type services.
In cases where no money changes hands and there is no discussion about
performing sex acts in exchange for money, there may be reasonable doubt
as to whether the person charged with soliciting a prostitute or vetting
Most of the sting operations are audio and video recorded and in most instances
it is clear that the defendant is soliciting sex. In those cases the accused
often seeks the advice and representation of an attorney to minimize the
damage associated with a solicitation conviction. This usually results
in plea bargaining and a plea agreement.
If you have been charged with soliciting a prostitute and wish to retain
an attorney to protect your constitutional rights, contact the Berry Law Firm.