Virginia Solicitation Lawyer
Solicitation can be treated as a serious felony offense in Virginia, so while it traditionally may not be considered in the same harsh light as other crimes, solicitation is a criminal charge that needs to be given serious consideration. Depending on the circumstances, those charged may face up to ten years in prison. So, if you are facing solicitation charges, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable Virginia solicitation lawyer soon to learn how to protect your legal rights and avoid making statements or taking actions that could jeopardize your case. Call and arrange for a meeting with a qualified criminal defense attorney.
The Penalties for Solicitation are Often Greater Than for Prostitution
Those charged with violating Section 18.2-346 of the Virginia Code by committing an act considered to constitute prostitution may be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This is the most serious category of misdemeanor offenses, but it does not carry the same consequences as a felony conviction. Maximum penalties include a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
In many cases, those committing actions that constitute the solicitation of prostitution may be convicted of no more than a Class 1 misdemeanor as well. However, when someone solicits prostitution from a minor, the crime becomes much more serious. If the minor involved is 16 or 17, the solicitation is treated as a Class 6 felony, and if the minor is under the age of 16, the crime of solicitation becomes a Class 5 felony.
Penalties for a Class 6 felony include up five years in prison and a fine as high as $2,500, and the maximum term of imprisonment doubles for a Class 5 felony.
How Virginia Law Defines Solicitation
Section 18.2-346 of the Virginia Code ties the definition of solicitation to that of prostitution. Essentially, anyone who offers money or something else of value to another person “for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts” will be considered guilty of solicitation of prostitution if they undertake “any substantial act in furtherance” of that offer.
The sexual acts that are listed in the definition of prostitution (and therefore the definition of solicitation) include adultery, fornication, forms of oral and anal sex and “crimes against nature” as defined in Section 18.2-361 of the code which covers sexual acts among certain family members or those involving animals.
Online Solicitation of a Minor
Another solicitation offense is found in section 18.2-374.3 of the code which is entitled “Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children.” This is commonly referred to as online solicitation of a minor.
An individual commits this offense by using any communications system such as email, text messages, social media, or online chat rooms to solicit a minor to engage in certain sexual actions or promote the involvement of a minor in a sexual act. Violations of this statute are treated as either a Class 5 or Class 6 felony with penalties as described above. In addition, there are certain circumstances in which online solicitation can carry an even harsher “mandatory minimum” penalty depending on the age of the persons involved. A Virginia solicitation lawyer could attempt to mitigate the penalties that a person may face.
How a Virginia Solicitation Attorney Can Help
Many solicitation charges stem from a basic misunderstanding or miscommunication. Statements made to law enforcement officials can further complicate matters, so it is often helpful to secure experienced legal representation as soon as possible so that your attorney can provide advice and advocate on your behalf at all stages of the legal proceedings.
A Virginia solicitation lawyer who understands how local courts handle the offense could attempt to devise the best defensive strategy based on the circumstances of your situation.