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Kent Municipal Court's agressive stance on "Patronizing a Prostitute"

Posted by John M. Tymczyszyn | Jun 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

A countywide program launched in the fall to reduce local demand for prostitutes has, in the opinion of judges and prosecutors, been a sucsess. King County has been steadily increasing the number of "John's" that are arrested and simultaneously decreasing the number of women charged with prostitution.

In a May 16, 2015 Seattle Times article Kenn Municipal Court Judge Karli Jorgensen called herself "an early and avid adopter" of the new approach - and has required men convicted of patronizing a prostitute to attend a 10-week intervention program as a condition of their sentences.

Statements by Judge Jorgensen are clear and she does not "beat around the bush." She has sent a clear message to Kent Municipal prosecutors that she is somewhat of an activist on the issue.  She goes on to state...."it's just horrific" of the harm caused to women by prostitution. "It's clearly a huge problem that needs to be addressed and it's often treated as a victimless crime. I think the new objective changes that dynamic."

Judge Jorgensen clearly believes that Patronizing a Prostitute is not a "victimless crime." This means that the sentences she imposes are likely to reflect that belief.  But most of the time defendants are apprehended as part of a backpage.com sting operation, so in fact, there is no victim. It is a situation where police entice men to hire them for services.  This calls into questions the issue of entrapment under RCW 9A.16.070  RCW 9A.16.070 states that "Entrapment" is a defense to a crime if:

(1) In any prosecution for a crime, it is a defense that:

     (a) The criminal design originated in the mind of law enforcement officials, or any person acting under their direction, and

     (b) The actor was lured or induced to commit a crime which the actor had not otherwise intended to commit.

     (2) The defense of entrapment is not established by a showing only that law enforcement officials merely afforded the actor an opportunity to commit a crime.

When asserting a defense of entrapment to a charge of "Patronizing a Prostitute" under RCW 9A.88.110 the validity of the defense becomes a question of fact.  Did the police "design the crime" and then "lure or induce" the actor to commit the crime or did law enforcement merely "afford the actor an opportunity to commit the crime." 

This is a question which is fact based.  Meaning that the contents of text messages and phone calls between the "John" and police can indicate if the police were entrapping the "John" and thereby providing the defendant with a valid defense to the charge of Patronizing a Prostitute.

Another legal question arises in backpage.com "John" sting operations. That legal questions is posed in the patronizing a prostitute statute that states:

    (c) He or she solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her in return for a fee.

In the case of a backpage.com sting operation it is not the "John" that "solicits." It is actually the police that "solicit" when they pay backpage.com to place the original ad. It creates a legal question when police are the ones "soliciting" and not the person that is accused of the crime.  These legal questions can play a big role in mounting a credible and effective defense to the charge of patronizing a prostitute under RCW 9A.88.110.  Seek the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in this area of law.

For additional information please see our:

Patronizing a Prostitute webpage

Backpage.com Sting webpage

Or call (425) 830-7520 for a free consultation. 

About the Author

John M. Tymczyszyn

Attorney John T. is a third generation Washingtonian, Navy Veteran and criminal defense attorney.

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