Now we’ll investigate the procedures surrounding prostitution—specifically how law enforcement officials go about setting up and arresting patrons.
Prostitution stings operate on a two-call system. When a prospective john calls the number posted on a fake advertisement, the information exchanged is initially very general. The officer posing as a prostitute will give the patron a general location at which to meet. Once in the area, the patron will have to call again to get a specific location (e.g. Holiday Inn, Rm. 231). All calls are recorded and used for evidence.
When the patron arrives at the agreed upon location (usually a hotel room that is wired and video recorded from an adjacent room), the undercover officer will entice conversation regarding the patron’s desires by asking leading questions like: “What are you interested in?” or “Is it ok if you use a condom?” Such statements ensure the recorded conversation covers the required sex-for-money elements of the crime.
The officer will then ask the patron to place the payment or “donation” on the bedside table (or somewhere in the room). Upon doing so, the crime of prostitution has been committed. The undercover officer gives the arrest signal, and the rest of the surveillance team enters the room and arrests the offender. The entire conversation between the patron and the undercover officer is video recorded and used as evidence for the prosecution.
These prostitution stings are set up by police with help from prosecutors. They are crafted around what prosecutors will ask defendants in the courtroom. It is a process predicated on deceit.
There are three primary avenues for defending a prostitution charge in the state of Illinois:
- Entrapment Defense occurs when a government official (such as a police officer) entices a person to commit a crime that they otherwise would not commit. Proving entrapment is difficult in these cases because offenders actively seek out prostitutes without knowing that they are undercover police officers. Thus, it is easy for the prosecution to argue the offender’s act of prostitution was premeditated, rather than forced.
- Due Process Defense is a viable option when, during the course of a prostitution arrest, a government official displays outrageous conduct such as to make continuation of the case unconstitutional. For example, if a police officer involved in a prostitution sting is caught engaging in sexual contact during said sting, the due process of law is violated. A judge will be left to determine whether the state acted in conduct that violated the due process rights of the accused.
- Lack of Probable Cause Defense may be used when a prostitution patron is arrested prior to an agreement to engage in prostitution. An officer must have probable cause to arrest someone for prostitution in the form of an explicit offer to engage in sexual contact for hire. If the prosecution cannot prove that such an agreement occurred, the defendant may use this defense. It will be left up to a judge to determine whether the state has a reasonable belief based on all facts and circumstances that the defendant has committed the act of prostitution. This also requires in-court testimony by the defendant.
Prostitution is often an embarrassing charge that most offenders wish to keep under wraps. The prosecution knows this and will use it to their advantage when negotiating a plea. Thus, it is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney to help you through the complex legal proceedings.