The Oakland police website now sports mug shots of those charged with solicitation of prostitution and suspected pimps. Apparently, the police department hopes posting these photos and the chance of the photos being seen by the public will act as a deterrent for all those considering the crimes of prostitution, solicitation, or acting as a pimp. The page, which houses photos of “pimps and johns,” has been up for nearly a year now. Launching in late June 2014, the department posted photographs of six men facing charges for sex trafficking and nine men charged with solicitation of prostitution.
In addition to photographs of the alleged lawbreakers, their name, DOB, city of residence, and the date they were arrested are posted. The website is updated approximately every two weeks. Officer Frank Bonifacio stated the website photos were just one more tool in the department’s commitment to stopping sexual exploitation and sexual trafficking. Oakland is known as a hub for human trafficking; some victims are as young as thirteen. In fact, the United States as a whole is a primary destination for human trafficking, with California being one of the primary destination states.
Pimping vs. Pandering
Most people believe pimping and pandering are the same offense; however, in the state of California they are separate crimes. The purpose of both laws is to stop people from attempting to increase the number of prostitutes available to the public. You are guilty of pimping if you find customers (also known as “Johns”) for prostitutes, and then take a portion of the money the prostitute receives. Even if you only collect a part of the prostitute’s pay when you had no part in finding a customer, or when you advertise a prostitute’s services, you could still be charged with pimping. Pandering is similar to the crime of pimping, but generally covers a person who “procures” another person for the purpose of prostitution by encouraging or persuading the individual to become or remain a prostitute. (Think Heidi Fleiss, the “Hollywood Madam”).
Police Across the U.S. Cracking Down on Sex Crimes
While prostitution may be the oldest profession in the world, law enforcement has cracked down on sex crimes such as prostitution, pandering, sex trafficking, and solicitation of prostitution. Vice squads, stings, and undercover police officers are all being utilized with a goal of shutting down these crimes. Confidential police informants are also used to catch suspects; however, many times the behavior of the officers can be overzealous and may even cross legal lines. Sting operations may be ripe for challenges by your attorney, as such operations can often violate the rights of those arrested.
Do You Have a Valid Defense to Your Charges?
In fact, many people who are arrested for such crimes truly had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Perhaps you called an escort service and had no intentions other than having a date for the night. Perhaps you were a victim of entrapment by the undercover officer. While courts rarely give much credence to the entrapment defense, it could be valid in your case. There may be insufficient evidence of your wrongdoing; perhaps the officer wrongly assumed a crime had been committed. Finally, your act may have lacked criminal intent. In order to be convicted of solicitation, pimping, or pandering, you must have intended to promote, encourage or facilitate prostitution. If you were unaware, you were engaging in illegal behavior, your attorney might be able to have your charges dropped altogether.
Getting the Legal Help You Need
Whatever else you do, contact an experienced Oakland criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible time following your arrest. You need an advocate in your corner, and you need that advocate early in the process. Your attorney is well aware of the far-reaching consequences a conviction for one of these crimes could have and will work hard to minimize the adverse repercussions. Call the Oakland sex crimes lawyers at the Law Offices of Nabiel C. Ahmed today for a free initial consultation. Call today at (510) 907-6600 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information.