Effective January 1, 2013, the "civil penalty" for soliciting for prostitution has been increased from $500.00 to $5,250.00. Where does the civil fine go? $500.00 goes to where it went before the prostitution law changed. $4,500.00 of the solicitation for lewdness fine goes to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) to fund safe house for exploited children. Why is someone arrested for prostitution paying for exploited children when no child was involved? This would be more appropriate in a travel to meet a minor or Dateline "To Catch a Predator" criminal case, not alleged adult prostitution. The reason lies with the legislature. In a budget crisis, it is politically advantageous to tax people accused of crimes instead of the public. More people get arrested for prostitution than, travelling to meet a minor, so more money to be made by the State of Florida. $500.00 of the fine goes to the court administrator. The other $250.00 goes to another unrelated fund.
Will the solicitation fine be a condition of probation? Probably not. Legally, it would be difficult to make a "civil penalty" which, lets face it, really acts as punishment and a fine, a condition of a defendant's probation for the crime of solicitation. If it was a condition, then the probation would be violated for failure to satisfy this fine. The person would have a warrant put out for their arrest and, because an individual is not entitled to a bond on a VOP, could be held in jail until the violation of probation (VOP) case is resolved. The probationer would have the defense of their ability to pay the fine, but would probably sit in jail until a hearing which could be 30 days from the date of their arrest for violating probation.
If the prostitution civil penalty is NOT a condition of probation, then it would be a lien. A lien is a recorded judgement against you. This would not affect your probation and not cause a violation if you failed to pay the fine. So, I just won't pay the $5,250.00 fine then, what can they do to me? Well, most people arrested for this charge are fighting to resolve the case with a withhold of adjudication. That means the person is not formally convicted of the crime of solicitation for prostitution or lewdness. The arrested person could then seal their arrest to protect their reputation and no one would see their mugshot on the Polk County Sheriff's webpage. Other private sites like mugshots.com, bustedmugs.com, arrests.org, etc. usually will remove the arrest information also, if shown proof that the arrest was sealed or expunged.
HERE IS THE BIG PROBLEM!! If adjudication is withheld, the individual successfully completes probation, and seals their record there is no trace of their prostitution arrest, correct? WRONG!!! Anytime you apply for credit or a background check is performed on the individual, the "civil judgment" will appear on the background check! When the employer or credit agency looks into what the lien is for, they will see it is a prostitution fine and the whole reason for sealing your record is worthless!!!
So what can I do to prevent the "civil penalty" for prostitution from becoming a problem? Speak to an experienced Polk County criminal defense lawyer that can explain your options. Is the statute and fine constitutional? Can you plead to a different charge? Or will you have to pay the fine?
Call Polk county criminal lawyer Thomas C. Grajek now at 863-688-4606
for answers to all your questions during this stressful time before you go to court.
Law office located in Lakeland, FL and handling ALL crimes including felonies, misdemeanors, sex crimes, VOP's, and domestic violence cases.