Beating a prostitution rap

Okay, this is inspired from a recent episode of COPS. Everyone knows the common episode where they have this big prostitution/john bust. Now, the guys always get busted when they offer money for sex, etc.

I always wondered, isn’t there a smart way to do this? Let’s say that I want to pay for sex. But I never say “I will give you twenty dollars for this or that”. What if I said “I want to have sex with you, but will not pay for it. However, I will give you a tip at the end because I want to” or “I will not pay for sex because that is illegal, but here is twenty dollars for the hell of it”. Would something like this work?

I am not asking for legal advice, as this does not concern me. But everyone knows that it is illegal (in 99% of the country) to pay for sex or offer sex for money. So, what would be the way around it? Could someone offer the defense that they did not pay for sex, but gave the girl money because he felt like it?

IANAL, etc. I’m sure that a defendant could certainly use that defense. The prosecutor would counter it by offering evidence of such things as the woman’s previous convictions for prostitution (if any), whether the part of town where the defendant met the woman was known as a spot for picking up prostitutes, any prior convictions the defendant may have for solicitation or (for impeachment purposes) other crimes reflecting on his general honesty, etc. Were I on a jury (and were I not predisposed to acquit on any consensual crime since I don’t think prostitution should be illegal) and a defendant said he just felt like giving a woman $20 after having sex with her, I would have not have reasonable doubt of his guilt and would vote to convict. Because it’s ridiculous.

The role of a fact-finder at trial is to assess the credibility of witnesses and give weight to the various pieces of evidence in arriving at a verdict.

If the record showed that the accused “I want to have sex with you, but will not pay for it. However, I will give you a tip at the end because I want to,” then the fact-finder (the jury, or the judge in a bench trial) could certainly conclude that they believed him and find him not guilty.

But they could also conclude that his intent was to pay for sex, and his words were simply a very ill-disguised attempt to do just that.

In my experience, you’d have incredible luck getting a jury to buy that, and it would be practically impossible to get a judge to buy it.

Well what about if were to stop people in the street and ask them:

“Have you got a couple of hundred dollars to help a guy out? Even a hundred would do so I can buy a slap up meal. I don’t have any money at all. The only thing I have is this fully loaded Smith and Wesson Model 29 that my father left me. Would you like a closer look at the barrel?”

Could I then claim that I wasn’t threatening them, just asking for donations?

If so…I’ve got a new job.

I’m sure Bricker or another legal eagle will correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there some sort of “reasonable man” standard that would come into play? No reasonable person would believe that pointing a gun at someone while asking for money wasn’t a robbery.

But where does the law draw the line between:

Paying someone for sex.
Ostensibly paying someone for their company (but sex is had).
Offering someone a gift in exchange for sex.
Offering someone a gift with no explicit promise of sex (but sex is had).
Buying someone drinks at a bar in exchange for sex.
Buying someone drinks at a bar with no explicit promise of sex (but sex is had).

At some point in there it stops being prostitution – but where exactly does the law draw the line?

I don’t suppose the S&W fits in here does it?

I would think it draws the line at the language of the statute, any relevant court rulings interpreting the language of the statute and the fact pattern of the individual case.

This is my point. I know the guys are guilty, that deep down they are paying for sex. What draws the line? What can these guys do to prevent them from being ‘not guilty’? “I DON’T BELIEVE IN PAYING FOR SEX, AS IT IS ILLEGAL. HOWEVER, I HAVE THIS COLOR TV THAT I WILL GIVE TO YOU AS A GIFT, JUST PRETEND YOU ARE MY GIRLFRIEND”. I know this is far fetched, but you get the point. There has to be a legal loophole that these guys could follow. Does anyone know of any specific cases, or any specific laws addressing this?

Why does there have to be? Obviously, in the real world, there isn’t any, or else people would be using it all the time. And if you found a legal loophole, the law would be changed the next day to eliminate it.

This is a case of what I think of as the “Magic Words” syndrome – the idea that the law is somehow susceptible to the right set of Magic Words, and that finding and using those words is sufficient to create results.


Anything that they do to pay for sex is sufficient, as long as two conditions are met: the jury that hears the evidence believes that he was offering money or its equivalent to pay for sex, and the the judges reviewing an appeal believe that the jury’s verdict has support in the record and the evidence they relied upon is legally sufficient.

I have a question; what if I pay for sex, but using monopoly money? Assuming the woman concerned accepts it, would a jury be likely to find me guilty? I’ve paid with something worth no actual money.

I remember an episode of Boston Legal where I believe the John was played by Ed Begley Jr.!? His defense was that he was making a movie. Could a John approach a prostitute with camera in hand and offer to pay her money to act in his movie of which he is the star?

Seems like there is a big gray area in the whole sex for money thing.

How about this transaction:

Her: I’m selling watches.
Him: I need a watch, how much?
Her: $100.
Him: Ok, I’ll take it. You’re pretty cute, wanna fool around?
Her: Ok.

Bada-bing, bada-boom. I just wrote a bad porn movie.

But seriously, people do just decide to have sex. And it’s not illegal to have sex with business associates. So why don’t the prostitutes just sell “something” other than the sex itself?

Were I prosecuting someone in that circumstance I’d challenge it by looking at the guy’s supposed plan for producing, promoting, distributing, etc. the movie. It’s probably again going to come down to what the guy or his lawyer can get a jury to believe.

Take a look at escort ads. Many of them feature language along the lines of “any money exchanged is to pay for my time only, anything that happens in that time is up to two mutually consenting adults” or the like. Now, if the authorities get involved it’s once again going to come down to what a judge or jury believes, but it’s pretty likely that the “only paying for my time” routine isn’t going to be legally sufficient any more than the “I just feel like giving you money after” routine would be.

It is illegal to fornicate with those of limited mental faculties.

Frankly, sex for money and goods happens all the time in marriage.

We should all be arrested.

I think the thing to remember is a john gets busted once (if he’s smart),but the police bust johns everyday.They have heard and seen it all

Dinner and a movie?

You’re a guest so you can’t search, but if you could search you’d know that we’ve answered this question about a hundred times. And the answer always is no.

There are no magic words and the law isn’t stupid. If it walks like prostitution and talks like prostitution and has sex like prostitution, then it is prostitution.