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Victimless Sex Offenses

In Pennsylvania, sex crimes are divided into two categories. One category includes misdemeanor offenses, while the other covers felony crimes. Within the misdemeanor category are what are referred to as victimless sex crimes, which are offenses that involve a sex act between two consenting adults.

Types of Offenses

There are a number of crimes that qualify as victimless sex offenses, including:

  • Prostitution;
  • Soliciting a prostitute;
  • Pandering;
  • Pimping;
  • Indecent exposure;
  • Lewd conduct;
  • Patronizing a prostitute; and
  • Online solicitation of a prostitute.

Patronizing a prostitute occurs when a person hires someone else to engage in sexual activity. Merely entering a house of prostitution can also qualify under the terms of the statute. Alternatively, someone can be charged with prostitution itself if he or she:

  • Lives in a house of prostitution or is engaged in sexual activity as a business; or
  • Loiters in or within view of a public place for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.

For first and second offenses, these crimes are charged as third degree misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,500. A third offense is considered a second degree misdemeanor, while additional offenses are treated as first degree misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Promoting prostitution, also known as pimping or pandering, includes a variety of activities ranging from operating a house of prostitution to transporting or paying for the transportation of a prostitute into Pennsylvania. Generally, this crime is committed when a person is involved in an activity where he or she intentionally causes someone else to become or remain a prostitute through:

  • Encouragement;
  • Inducement; or
  • Another act.

This offense is charged as a second degree misdemeanor and carries the threat of a three year prison sentence and a fine of $5,000, although in certain circumstances the term and fine may be increased. To sustain a charge of promoting prostitution, the accused must have been aware that prostitution was occurring.

Other acts that qualify as promoting prostitution include:

  • Owning or managing a house of prostitution;
  • Procuring someone for a house of prostitution;
  • Soliciting a person to patronize a prostitute;
  • Procuring a prostitute for a patron;
  • Soliciting, receiving, or agreeing to receive a benefit for doing a prostitution-related act; and
  • Leasing or permitting someone else to use a space for prostitution or failing to eject the tenant or notify law enforcement.

Those convicted of committing a victimless crime are not required to register on the state’s sex offender list unless the victim was a minor.

Possible Defenses

There are a number of possible defenses that someone accused of committing a victimless crime can raise, including that:

  • No money was exchanged;
  • No sex act was promised;
  • No attempt to perform the sex act took place;
  • A lack of evidence; and
  • Entrapment by law enforcement authorities.

Contact a Dedicated Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

Sex offenses are often mistakenly charged or are the result of entrapment by the police, so if you live in Pennsylvania and are being investigated for or have been charged with a sex crime, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can work to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.

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