Prostitution does not always involve someone standing on a street corner waiting for customers to drive by. Under Illinois law, anyone who offers to perform a sexual act in exchange for anything of value can be charged with prostitution.
Consequences of a conviction for prostitution can extend beyond fines or jail and damage an individual's reputation or standing in the community. If you have been arrested on suspicion of prostitution in DuPage County or Chicago, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland to understand your rights.
Prostitution Under Illinois Law
Under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/11-14, a person commits the offense of prostitution when he or she:
- Knowingly performs, offers, or agrees to perform,
- For money, property, or anything of value,
- Any act of sexual penetration, or
- Touching or fondling of the sex organs of another for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.
In order to convict someone of criminal prostitution, the prosecutor needs to prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot prove each of the elements, the defendant should not be convicted of prostitution.
“Performs, Offers, or Agrees to Perform”
The crime of prostitution does not require the defendant to have completed any sexual act. Simply offering or agreeing to have sex or perform a sexual act is enough to be considered prostitution. Police undercover operations or prostitution stings often rely on the offer or agreement to arrest someone on suspicion of prostitution.
Even if someone does not offer to provide sex for money, agreeing to have sex in exchange for something of value is a crime. For example, a woman who needs money for rent complains to a male neighbor about needing money. She has no intention of trying to solicit money for sex. However, the neighbor says he will give her the money if she has sex with him. If she agrees, she could be charged with prostitution.
“Anything of Value”
Prostitution involves agreeing to perform a sexual act in exchange for anything of value. This generally involves a payment of cash, but can also include:
- Phone or computer,
- Alcohol, or
An exchange anything of value can include sex in exchange for not collecting rent, or providing labor or some other service, like fixing someone's car.
Again, there does not have to be any exchange of money or anything of value. The offer or acceptance of an offer to perform a sexual act may be enough for a prostitution conviction.
“Any Act of Sexual Penetration, Touching, or Fondling”
If accused of touching or fondling of the sex organs of one person by another, the prosecution has to show this touching or fondling was done for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. If touching the sex organs is not done for the purpose of sexual arousal, it should not be considered prostitution.
For example, a beauty salon or tattoo parlor may have a customer who wants treatment on a part of the body that requires touching the customer's sex organ. However, because this not done for sexual arousal, the service provider is not committing prostitution.
Sexual touching or fondling can involve either the defendant touching another or being touched by another. This would include an alleged prostitute fondling a “customer,” or that “customer” touching the sex organs of the alleged prostitute.
If the sexual act involved sexual penetration, the prosecutor does not need to show any intent to arouse or gratify the individual.
Penalties for Prostitution in Illinois
Prostitution is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. Penalties for a conviction of a Class A misdemeanor include:
- Up to one-year imprisonment;
- Up to two years' probation; and
- A fine of up to $2,500.
However, in addition to potential jail time and fines, there are collateral consequences that go along with a prostitution conviction, even after the defendant has fulfilled the terms of their criminal sentence.
Collateral Consequences of a Prostitution Charge
Collateral consequences of a prostitution charge may continue for years after serving a criminal sentence. A prostitution conviction will remain on the individual's criminal record, which is a public document. A background check may reveal the prostitution conviction and make it more difficult to get a job or a place to live.
In Illinois, a conviction for prostitution may make the individual ineligible for certain licenses or job opportunities. A conviction for prostitution will make an individual eligible for licensure or employment in a child care facility.
Prostitution can affect an individual's immigration opportunities. Generally, prostitution will not be a deportable offense. However, prostitution could make a noncitizen ineligible for citizenship. Prostitution can make a noncitizen inadmissible as a “crime involving moral turpitude,” or if the noncitizen engages in a pattern of prostitution. However, “a pattern of prostitution,” generally requires more than a single offense.
Defenses to Prostitution Charges
There are a number of potential defenses to prostitution charges, depending on the facts of the case. Prostitution charges often rely on circumstantial evidence of an agreement to engage in sexual activity in exchange for payment. Your Illinois sex crime defense attorneys can review the evidence and identify the best ways to challenge the prosecution's case.
Illinois law provides two affirmative defenses to charges of prostitution. An affirmative defense is one where the defendant has committed the elements of the criminal act but may not be prosecuted based on the situation. Affirmative defenses to prostitution charges or immunity from prosecution in Illinois include:
- Prostitution by victims of trafficking; and
- Prostitution by a person under the age of 18.
Defense for Victims of Trafficking
It is an affirmative defense to a charge of prostitution that the accused engaged in or performed prostitution as a result of being a victim of involuntary servitude or trafficking in persons. This includes someone forcing the other to be a prostitute by:
- Physical harm or threat of physical harm;
- Harm to another person;
- Threat to use the legal process against the victim;
- Destroying or confiscating immigration documents or passport;
- Using intimidation; or
- Exerting financial control.
Immunity for Prostitution Under the Age of 18
If the person suspected of prostitution is determined to be under the age of 18, the individual will be considered immune from prostitution. An underaged prostitution suspect may also be taken into temporary protective custody. Law enforcement will also report the incident to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and commence a child abuse or neglect investigation.
Criminal Charges for Solicitation or Patronizing a Prostitute
It is also a crime to solicit or patronize a prostitute in Illinois. These are separate criminal offenses aimed at customers who request sex for payment or individuals who visit a place of prostitution.
Solicitation of a Sexual Act
It is a crime under Illinois law for a person to offer someone (who is not his or her spouse) anything of value in exchange for a sexual act. Soliciting a sexual act is generally charged as a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the individual solicited was underage or mentally disabled, it may be charged as a Class 4 Felony.
Patronizing a Prostitute
Patronizing a prostitute involves engaging in a sexual act with a prostitute or entering a location with the intent to engage in sexual penetration. Patronizing a prostitute is also a class 4 felony in Illinois.
Contact Chicago/DuPage Criminal Defense Lawyers
A criminal charge of prostitution can have lasting consequences for an individual and their family. With so much at stake, it is important to contact criminal defense attorneys who understand the unique challenges in defending against charges of prostitution.
The criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are knowledgeable, experienced and are committed to advocating for every client. Contact Dolci & Weiland today at 630-261-9098 (DuPage County) or 312-238-9007 (Chicago Area).