Solicitation is an Ohio criminal charge that is related to but separate from prostitution.
If you have been accused of solicitation in Ohio, you are probably worried about jail time and potential harm to your reputation.
Here, we will discuss Ohio solicitation laws and some important information about how to beat a solicitation charge.
What Is Solicitation?
The Ohio State Code does not specifically define solicitation. Solicitation generally is the act of asking for or trying to obtain something from someone.
The Ohio criminal code prohibits solicitation in a number of situations related to prostitution. Essentially, solicitation is asking another person to engage in sexual activity for hire.
Ohio’s laws prohibit solicitation regardless of the age or mental capacity of the person being solicited.
However, criminal penalties may be more severe for solicitation of a minor or any individual with a developmental disability.
It is important to note that you can be charged with solicitation even if no sexual act took place.
Ohio Solicitation Laws
According to solicitation laws in Ohio, soliciting a person who is eighteen years of age or older is a third-degree misdemeanor.
Soliciting a person who is sixteen or seventeen is a fifth-degree felony if you know the person’s age or are recklessly unaware of their age.
Soliciting someone under sixteen is a third-degree felony whether or not you know the person’s age, and soliciting a person with a developmental disability is also a third-degree felony if you know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person has a disability.
Ohio solicitation laws also specify more severe penalties for solicitation by a person who has received a positive HIV test.
If you know that you have tested positive for HIV and you solicit sex from any person, you can be charged with a second or third-degree felony, depending on when the alleged solicitation took place.
Ohio Penalties for Solicitation
A judge can sentence you to up to 60 days in jail for a third-degree misdemeanor. They can also fine you up to $500.
Felony convictions for solicitation carry the possibility of more severe penalties. A fifth-degree felony can result in six months to a year of jail time and a fine of up to $2,500.
Sentencing guidelines allow between one and five years of jail time and/or a $10,000 fine for a third-degree felony.
The most severe penalty for solicitation after a positive HIV test can involve up to eight years in jail and a maximum fine of $15,000.
If you committed solicitation while in a motor vehicle, the court may suspend your license.
Possible Defenses for an Ohio Solicitation Charge
There are a number of strategies that a skilled defense attorney may use to help you beat a solicitation charge.
Burden of Proof
For solicitation, as with other crimes, you are innocent until proven guilty. One defense strategy is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegations that you solicited sex for hire.
If the prosecution cannot provide enough evidence of a clear agreement to exchange sex for payment, then you will not be found guilty.
It is possible that you were unaware that the person you were talking to was a sex worker. You may have thought they seemed interested in you and suggested that they come back to your room.
You can defend against a solicitation charge by showing that there is no evidence that you discussed sex for hire.
You can argue entrapment if an undercover cop encouraged you to solicit sex acts from someone posing as a prostitute.
Police sometimes run undercover operations in which one undercover officer pretends to be a sex worker while another attempts to persuade or encourage individuals to solicit the fake sex worker’s services.
A successful entrapment defense requires you to prove that you would not have engaged in solicitation without the undercover officer’s influence.
This defense may depend on the words the officer used to convince you to attempt to pay for sex acts or on other circumstances.
Entrapment is a complicated defense, and hiring a lawyer is important to successfully raise it.
Will a Solicitation Charge Stay on My Record Forever?
In Ohio, convictions for first, second, third, and fourth-degree misdemeanors will become part of your permanent criminal record.
Any felony conviction will also become part of your permanent record. Most Ohio employers can find public records of felony and first through fourth-degree misdemeanor convictions.
If you are convicted of solicitation, it can potentially impact your life long after the incident occurred.
Eligible offenders in Ohio can have misdemeanor convictions as well as fourth and fifth-degree felony convictions sealed or expunged from their permanent records.
Expungement removes the record of the conviction, making it as if the conviction never happened, while sealing a record makes the record unavailable to the public.
Both sealing and expungement prevent future employers from seeing convictions, giving offenders a fresh start.
Until recently, only first-time offenders were eligible for expungement. As of 2018, you may seek expungement if you have any number of misdemeanor convictions and five or fewer felony convictions.
You must wait between one and five years before seeking expungement, depending on the level of the offense you are trying to expunge.
Why It Is Important to Hire a Lawyer
A solicitation conviction can stay on your permanent record and prevent you from getting hired, obtaining certain professional licenses, being approved for certain types of housing, and more.
These collateral consequences can be more harmful than any jail time or fine. You should contact a criminal defense lawyer to talk about how to beat a solicitation charge and avoid these consequences.
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with a violation of Ohio solicitation laws.
How an Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA are ready to help you beat your solicitation charge. Our criminal law attorneys have decades of experience in criminal defense and have earned top ratings from respected legal publications.