What Is Solicitation and When Can I Be Arrested for It?
Solicitation is a crime in New Mexico, and it involves requesting, encouraging, or even outright demanding that someone engage in a criminal act. In most cases, solicitation is used to refer to prostitution, but you should note that solicitation does not only occur in prostitution.
However, for the sake of clarity, let’s differentiate between solicitation as it relates to prostitution and prostitution itself. Prostitution requires a person to have sexual intercourse in exchange for money or something of value. Solicitation is the patronizing of a prostitute – or the “John” as these patrons are commonly called.
How New Mexico Law Defines Solicitation for Albuquerque and Surrounding Cities
New Mexico considers it a solicitation to
- knowingly offer to hire, or actually hire
- a prostitute or a person that is assumed to be a prostitute
- with the intent of paying for a sexual act.
You could also be charged with prostitution for visiting a place that encourages or allows sexual acts for hire too, such as a brothel.
Solicitation may also be referred to as patronizing. The defendant is the party that requests the services of a prostitute (“John”) or someone who controls prostitutes (“pimp”).
The Elements of Solicitation
To be arrested and convicted for solicitation, the prosecution must prove two key elements:
- The defendant requested that someone engaged in sexual services in exchange for money or something of value.
- The defendant intended to engage in criminal acts with the other party.
Therefore, the defendant must not only request to engage in sexual acts, but the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to go through with the request and had the intention of committing the crime.
Act Does Not Have to Be Completed
It is essential to understand that with solicitation charges, you do not have to follow through to be arrested or charged. Instead, you simply must make the request and have intent. If you recant your request, however, you may not be guilty of solicitation. However, this defense only works if you can prove that you retracted your statement.
What Is the Penalty for Solicitation or Patronizing in New Mexico?
Patronizing itself is a petty misdemeanor, but you could still spend up to six months in jail and pay a fine of up to $500. Once you have more than one conviction for patronizing, the sentencing increases to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Solicitation of Minors – a Very Serious Offense
The state of New Mexico goes to great lengths to protect its minors. Like other states, you will face enhanced penalties if you are convicted of the solicitation of a child in New Mexico.
Online or in-person solicitation of minors for sexual acts is a heavily targeted and investigated area by federal and state law enforcement. Solicitation can be done via email, online chat rooms, in-person, via text message, over the phone, and through other means of communication.
If you have been accused of soliciting a minor, realize that you are facing a serious charge. If you are convicted, you will encounter enhanced prison sentences, and you may be forced to register as a sex offender.
That means that even after you have been released from prison, you face long-term consequences for a conviction. Sex offenders cannot easily find housing, jobs, or even financial aid.
The Issue of False Accusations
Unfortunately, being falsely accused of solicitation of a minor happens. Worse, your word or even a recanted statement from the “victim,” might not be enough. While you could be entirely innocent, the court always errs on the side of caution – which means they would rather convict an innocent person then let a child molester go free. Therefore, if you have been falsely accused of solicitation of a minor, you must contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
What Defense Options Do I Have?
Luckily, you have options for mounting a strong defense against false accusations or an alleged solicitation. However, it is essential that you first contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.
Some potential defenses you have to include:
- Entrapment – Entrapment is a common defense strategy, especially in prostitution and solicitation. When an undercover agent encourages criminal behavior to arrest a person afterward, it is entrapment. If this can be proven, the courts may dismiss the case.
- Insufficient Evidence – A prosecutor not only needs evidence that you paid or requested the sexual service, but that you had the intent to commit the crime. Proving intent is not easy; therefore, it is possible for your attorney to argue that your intention was not present at the time of the crime.
- Lack of Trustworthy Evidence – There might be evidence, but the quality and trustworthiness of that evidence could be another question. The evidence could be circumstantial, easily interpreted otherwise, or witnesses may seem not credible.
Do You Need a Defense Attorney?
Do not assume that a petty misdemeanor is something you can defend against yourself. Misdemeanor or not, you could serve time in jail. Furthermore, you will have a criminal record. A criminal record can result in being denied housing, employment opportunities, or even the chance to join the military. To avoid the long-term consequences of a solicitation charge, you need an attorney that can help defend your rights.
An attorney from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can help protect you from false accusations, overzealous prosecutors, a future marred by a criminal record, or the devastation of sex offender registration.
Schedule a consultation with our attorneys today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations here in New Mexico. Call us now at 505-375-4764 or request more information online.