Ohio Police Using Backpage and Craigslist for Solicitation and Prostitution Arrests

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Law enforcement agencies throughout Franklin County and the surrounding areas in Ohio are cracking down on online advertising for erotic services and changing the way solicitation arrests are made.

Within recent years, websites like Backpage and Craigslist have been used to promote erotic services. Men and women are labeled “companions” in the ads, or they advertise massage services. However, these businesses typically are frauds and are used to advertise illegal prostitution.

Police departments are aware of the tactics used to promote prostitution. The departments often use sting operations to make prostitution and solicitation arrests. In some cases, undercover officers may contact the number in the ad, using that to make prostitution or trafficking arrests.

Other times, departments can run ads on the websites and arrange meetings with those seeking the services at local Columbus hotels and motels. This often is done at businesses near the Interstate 71 and Route 161 interchange, such as Days Inn Columbus North and Doubletree Hotel.

When meeting the “johns,” undercover officers pose as prostitutes and make arrests once the person solicits the officer or exchanges money with the officer for sexual services.

According to Ohio Rev. Code § 2907.241, solicitation is defined as knowingly and intentionally attempting to persuade, compel, induce or encourage  someone to participate in sexual activity in order to receive some form of compensation. A sexual act does not have to be committed for the charge to apply.

For example, if an undercover officer is posing as a prostitute, other officers can make a solicitation arrest once the john suggests he or she will pay for some sort of sexual act to be performed. The act does not have to happen to warrant the charge.

Solicitation of a prostitute is considered a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. However, one of the biggest consequences associated with a solicitation charge is the possibility of a criminal record.

Once a person is convicted of solicitation, the information becomes public record. Future employers, family members, neighbors and spouses can see the criminal history. A conviction could have a long-lasting effect on the social and personal aspects of a person’s life.

Some offenders could be eligible for a diversion program, sometimes referred to as a “John School.” During this program, participants are educated on the dangers of soliciting a prostitute and the health risks associated with participating in sexual activity with a prostitute.

If the program is successfully completed, the offender could have the charges dropped. This could mean avoiding time behind bars and not having a criminal record. However, being accepted into the diversion program can be difficult. The programs often are full and finding space for an offender can be tricky.

If you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute, contact Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900. Our experienced attorneys can help you discretely fight the charges and work to get a favorable outcome. Your reputation is important. Call today.

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