Texas Becomes First State to Make First-Time Solicitation of Prostitution a Felony
Texas just became the first state to make a first-time solicitation of prostitution offense a felony. When H.B. 2975 takes effect on September 1, 2021, offering or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee will go from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.
What this means is that in two months, anyone convicted of a first solicitation offense will face 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of no more than $10,000. Previously the crime was punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.
A second solicitation offense jumps from being a state jail felony to a third-degree felony. In Texas, third-degree felonies are penalized by 2 to 10 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
H.B. 2975 will amend Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal code by adding section 43.021, which specifically concerns solicitation of prostitution offenses. Subsections (b) and (c-1) of the current prostitution statute (section 43.02) will be transferred to the new statute.
Subsection (b) enumerates the elements of the offense, providing that it is a crime for a person to offer or agree to pay a fee to have sex with another person. Subsection (c-1) concerns the level of charges for first and subsequent offenses.
Solicitation will soon be considered a more serious offense in Texas. It is imperative that anyone facing charges – whether now or when the new law takes effect – retain aggressive legal representation right away to seek to avoid having a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record.