Commercial Sex Abuse of a Minor
Washington laws that punish those who pay for sex with minors are some of the strictest in the US. Today, the consequences of soliciting a commercial sex worker that turns out to be a minor can be very severe.
The state of Washington is determined to stamp out sexual exploitation of minors in all its appearances. As a result, many of the offenses relating to this conduct have been revised and their penalties significantly increased.
At The Curtis Firm, LLC, we have represented many people who found themselves in hot water after they picked up a sex worker on the highway or online, only to discover the person was a minor.
We have a proven track record of representing clients arrested or charged with commercial sex abuse of a minor in these circumstances. We have worked to get many charges dismissed and others reduced to offenses with relatively minor jail sentences.
Our focus in these cases is to ensure that our clients' side of the story is heard and to prove convincingly that our client is a good person that deserves a break. We have gotten many clients off the hook, most of whom had no idea the sex worker they were soliciting was a minor.
If you have been arrested or charged with commercial sex abuse of a minor, you are at risk of some very severe consequences. Contact us today to learn your options and how we can help you fight the charge.
The Washington law on commercial sex abuse of a minor
Washington law defines the offense of commercial sex abuse of a minor as paying or agreeing to pay a minor for sex, either directly or through a third party.
Before 2010, paying for sex with a juvenile was a misdemeanor offense that carried 1 to 3 months in county jail for a first offense. There was no requirement for registration as a sex offender either.
However, the offense has been expanded since 2010. The minimum penalties for a first offense have been greatly increased to between 21 and 27 months in jail. Apart from this, persons convicted of the offense will face mandatory sex offender registration, contrary to what obtained before.
To show that a person has committed the offense of commercial sex abuse of a minor, the government must prove that the person:
- Paid a fee to a minor or a third person for sexual conduct with a minor;
- Paid or agreed to pay a fee to a minor or a third person on the understanding that there will be sexual conduct with a minor; or
- Solicits, offers or requests to engage in sexual conduct with a minor for a fee.
Other crimes related to commercial sex abuse of a minor
There are other crimes commonly associated with commercial sex abuse of a minor. These offenses will commonly be charged against those engaged in managing or assisting juvenile prostitution. The offenses include:
- Promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor. The offense is a Class A felony punishable with up to 27 years in prison.
- Promoting travel for the commercial sex abuse of a minor. A person that sells travel services for the purpose of facilitation commercial sex abuse of a minor would be culpable here. The offense attracts up to 5 years in prison
- Advertising the commercial sexual abuse of a minor. The offense is a Class C felony and is punishable with up to 5 years in prison.
- Permitting the commercial sexual abuse of a minor is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable with up to 364 days in jail. A person who allows their facilities to be used for sexual conduct with a minor may be arrested and charged with the offense.
Consequences of conviction for commercial sex abuse of a minor
The offense is treated as a Class B felony with a standard sentencing range of 21 to 27 months for a first offender. Offenders may be subjected to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Convicted persons will also be required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years, and perhaps for much longer. Sex offender registration will bring many unpleasant consequences, including difficulty with finding employment and housing.
The offender will be required to commit to Community Custody as well as a sex offender treatment program. If a vehicle was involved in the commission of the crime, it may be impounded and will only be released on the payment of further fees.
There may also be geographical restrictions imposed on persons convicted of the offense. They must remain outside a geographical area prescribed by the court unless it would interfere with their employment or residence.
Is it a defense that you did not know the age of the minor?
Yes, but only in limited circumstances. The statute only allows a defendant to plead ignorance of age if they requested documentary proof of age at the time of the offense.
The statute requires that the defendant prove they made a bona fide attempt to find out the true age of the minor. This could have been done by requiring the production of a driver's license, birth certificate, marriage license or other valid identification.
Importantly, you must not have relied solely on the oral claims of the minor or their apparent age. It is not enough that the minor looked old enough or claimed to be old enough.
Despite the apparent restrictions to the defense, we can help review your case for circumstances that can lead to a valid assertion of the defense. If there is room to argue that you took good faith steps to ascertain the true age of the sex worker, we will argue it forcefully.
The Curtis Firm, LLC knows how to defend you
At The Curtis Firm, LLC, we have defended many persons accused of soliciting sex from juveniles. We can put our fierce advocacy and diligent commitment to work for you.
We will carefully review the circumstances of your arrest, especially the behavior of the police. If evidence has been gathered against you by unconstitutional means, such as the breach of your Fifth Amendment rights against coercive interrogation, that evidence may be inadmissible at trial.
We can bring motions to challenge the admissibility of that evidence and the case of the prosecution. Even if all the evidence against you is admissible, we can scrutinize your case to ascertain if there was ambiguity in the communications about sex.
We are committed to doing all we can to get the charges dismissed, reduced or defeated at trial. Even if the state's case looks strong, we will use all the resources at our command to find you the best possible resolution to the charge.
If you have been arrested or charged with commercial sex abuse of a minor, don't wait until it is too late. Call The Curtis Firm, LLC at 253-327-1063 to set up a free case evaluation today.