A D.C. Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Perspective on MPD’s Overzealous Pursuit of Prostitution Convictions
You might be minding your own business, walking to the store or home from the bars in Washington, D.C. A barely-dressed woman walks up to you and asks you what you want, “honey.” You might decide to play along, and start talking about prices. But the next thing you know, several of D.C’s finest are jumping out of a nearby car, and placing you in handcuffs. You’ve just been nabbed in a D.C. prostitution sting.
As a Washington, D.C. criminal lawyer who handles solicitation of prostitution cases, I am familiar with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) tactics. With names like Operation Keep it in Doors, or Operation Lonely Hearts, the D.C. MPD has made it a priority to arrest and prosecute those willing to pay for consensual sex. These stings usually take one of two forms. First, MPD sends a female police officer out on the streets, dressed like a hooker. Her job is to approach any man she sees, and try to strike up a conversation about paying for sex. Some of these men are certainly there looking for love. Others start thinking it might be something they’re interested in once it’s offered. Either way, these men end up in jail, without ever taking their wallets out or their pants down.
The other popular sting scenario involves MPD renting out a hotel room and placing ads in certain publications. The future defendant answers the ad, and attempts to meet the prostitute at a nearby hotel. The conversation quickly turns to sex for money and officers are quickly rushing into the room. It all happens so fast, your head is still spinning as they put you into the patrol car. It’s not technically entrapment, but it’s certainly a trap.
It isn’t apparent why MPD thinks it is worthwhile to allocate resources to arrest consenting adults looking for physical companionship. And they don’t appear to be slowing down, with new solicitation arrests being made every day. Maybe there aren’t enough crimes of violence being committed in D.C. Or maybe there aren’t enough people who could use a little help from Officer Friendly. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to understand why the police are luring people to tax dollar-paid-for hotels instead of looking for real criminals committing real crimes.
The good news for D.C. solicitation of prostitution defendants is that many D.C. judges feel the same way. That doesn’t mean that judges have the power to simply dismiss your case. They don’t. But it does mean that they will often be very willing to find that the government did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the testifying officer does not come across as credible, or the conversation between the undercover and the defendant is too vague, many judges are inclined to find a defendant “not guilty.” Your D.C. criminal defense lawyer will likely know which judges might be more sympathetic to solicitation defendants.
This is not to say that all defendants who choose to go to trial on their prostitution cases will be found not guilty. They won’t. But most judges will recognize the victimless aspect of this crime, and fashion an appropriate sentence. Your defense lawyer will make a sentencing argument on your behalf, and can, in many cases, keep a defendant out of jail, and maybe even off probation.
Washington, D.C. solicitation of prostitution cases are a waste of time and money, for the police and for defendants.
But an experienced D.C. criminal lawyer will help you get the best possible outcome. Contact Jay Mykytiuk at JPMLegal for a free consultation.