Facing charges of having solicited a prostitute has never been an easy experience. The consequences of simply being charged, let alone being convicted, have always had a major impact on people's lives.
In the past, one of the main difficulties a person might have faced if they were charged with soliciting a prostitute could have been the potential for disruption of the marriage and family life. In recent years as the Internet has become a repository for more and more public records, a person's friends or employer may learn about their charges online, leading to a range of problems from being publicly shamed to loss of a job.
Now, according to the Associated Press, those facing charges of soliciting a prostitute may be facing much more serious legal penalties in addition to the social stigma and other possible consequences. A bill has unanimously passed the Florida House of Representatives that would elevate first solicitation offenses from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor. It would also elevate a second offense to a third-degree felony with a possible penalty of up to five years in prison. Third offenses would be charged as second-degree felonies and could carry a 15-year prison term.
First-time offenders would also have to participate in a class to help them better understand the risks prostitution poses as well as a requirement to perform community service.
The reality is that being charged with soliciting prostitution can have a devastating impact on your life, even if you are facing the current penalties rather than these heightened charges and penalties. No one should face solicitation charges without skilled legal representation that can give him or her the full defense he or she deserves.