Criminal solicitation is requesting, encouraging or demanding someone to engage in criminal conduct, with the intent to facilitate or contribute to the commission of that crime. Most commonly, solicitation refers to solicitation of prostitution the crime of soliciting someone to engage in prostitution.
Elements of Solicitation
Though state laws vary, to be guilty of solicitation, one must:
- request that someone else engage in criminal conduct; and
- have the intention to engage in criminal conduct with that person.
States vary as to whether the other person must receive the request, or whether the act of making the request (along with criminal intent) is enough to constitute solicitation. Some require that the other person actually receive the request.
Regarding solicitation of prostitution, this generally means that the person must communicate a request that another person engage in sex acts for compensation, and must have the intention to follow through with the request.
Subsequent Crime Need Not Be Committed
Its important to remember that the subsequent crime the actual prostitution for example need not be committed. Someone can still be guilty of solicitation even if their request is not accepted, or the subsequent crime simply never happens. For example, if an undercover police officer receives a request to engage in prostitution, the alleged client can be convicted for soliciting even though no prostitution did or will actually take place.
Defenses to Solicitation Charges
As in all criminal cases, a solicitation defendant can challenge that they did not commit the act, or that they did not have a criminal intent if they did commit the act. For example, someone charged with solicitation of prostitution might argue that he or she was not the person who did it, or that there was no offer or intent to compensate the other person for performing sex acts.
In some cases, a person is not liable for solicitation if he or she recants their intention to commit the subsequent crime, and notifies the other person that their request is off the table. Depending on what type of criminal behavior the person was soliciting, recanting might also require notifying the police in order to prevent subsequent criminal conduct from unfolding.
Often, evidence in addition to any testimony from the person propositioned is required in order to convict someone of solicitation.
Punishment for Solicitation
Since one can solicit the commission of a variety of crimes, punishment for solicitation can vary widely, and vary by state as well. Solicitation charges escalate depending on the degree of felony which was allegedly solicited. For example, solicitation of murder is punished as a much higher degree of felony than solicitation of prostitution.
Punishment for solicitation of prostitution can also vary. If the person has prior convictions, they are more likely to be sentenced to jail time. First time offenders may often avoid jail time, and receive fines, community service, or other alternative sentences. Some states now require HIV testing and HIV classes for those convicted of soliciting prostitution.
As a felony, a conviction for solicitation can have huge consequences. An experienced criminal attorney can help someone charged with solicitation find the best possible solution available.