What Qualifies as Solicitation in Arizona: The Legal Framework
A charge of solicitation in Arizona can have a very serious impact on just about every aspect of life. Understanding what the charge is, in which situation it applies and what’s a possible line of defense could potentially be used to do damage control in the aftermath of the conviction.
Definition of Solicitation in Arizona
The classification of solicitation is listed in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1002. According to the definition, solicitation refers to a person that promotes or facilitates the commitment of a felony or a misdemeanor. Solicitation is known as a so-called “preparatory” crime. Other preparatory crimes include attempt, conspiracy and facilitation.
The person could solicit another person to commit a felony or a misdemeanor by requesting, commanding or encouraging engagement in specific conducts or criminal activities that will result in either a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Solicitation may also refer to soliciting an act of prostitution. Most states have pretty harsh laws pertaining to such criminal offenses. Of them all, Arizona happens to have some of the harshest penalties.
In that context, soliciting an act of prostitution could refer to offering to a person or getting them to agree to an act of prostitution, hiring a person for the purpose of committing an act of prostitution or aiding the commission of an act that would qualify as prostitution under Arizona statutes.
Prostitution is illegal in Arizona and all acts of prostitution are highlighted in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3214. According to the section, an act of prostitution occurs when the following conditions are met:
- There has been an offer for money or something valuable in return for sexual contact
- There must either be intent of having a sexual act or the act itself should have been performed
- There has to be a substantial act in furtherance of the offer
Penalties and Criminal Charges
Solicitation is a criminal offense and its scope will determine whether the perpetrator will be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.
In the best-case scenario, the solicitation will be classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor if the individual solicited someone to commit a misdemeanor. The charge will be a Class 1 misdemeanor whenever the offense solicited is a Class 5 felony.
The most severe charge will be a Class 3 felony whenever the offense solicited has been a Class 1 felony. The punishment for a Class 3 felony in Arizona is a minimum of 2.5 years in prison and a maximum of 25 years (in the case of prior criminal offenses and aggravating factors).
Under Phoenix Municipal Code 4-23, soliciting a prostitute is also illegal and a criminal offense. A first-time offense will result in a misdemeanor charge and at least 15 consecutive days in jail. Obviously, the severity of the punishment will increase with every repeated offense. Individuals found guilty of soliciting a prostitute may also face fines of at least 2,500 dollars.
Possible Defense Scenarios
Experienced criminal defense attorneys will take a look at the specifics of the situation and figure out which line of defense could yield the best results for their client.
Usually, attorneys will first look for a law enforcement error. Such an error could be a failure to read one’s Miranda Rights, performing a search without a search warrant and engaging in entrapment.
An attorney may also challenge the evidence and its sufficiency for the establishment of culpability. This is particularly true for cases that involve prostitution solicitation charges. Many of these cases involve undercover police operations. As a result, an arrest will take place prior to any sexual contact, making it difficult for the prosecution to provide sufficient evidence.
Challenging the reliability of testimonies and lack of probable cause are other common and effective lines of defense.