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Solicitation: But wait, you didn’t tell me you were a cop

There’s been a bit of media interest in Columbus, Ohio, since a famed local athlete was recently arrested for solicitation.

There’s really nothing new about this scenario.

A guy (or gal) sees an ad for a sensual massage or something similar in a paper, on Craigslist, or somewhere else. He calls the number, makes an appointment, and shows up at the allotted time and place. The young lady engages in a brief discussion about “what he wants” and how much he “has to spend.”

At this point, the unlikely target gets a bit nervous and asks if the girl is a cop. She answers reassuringly “no.” So he sheepishly asks how much for “________” (some sex act). He might even pull out some cash. Now the hook is set, and the moment is ruined. The other cops come out of the adjoining room and bring out the cuffs.

We’ve defended these solicitation cases for years. And we inevitably get the question: “Doesn’t it matter that they told me they weren’t cops?” Or, as a corollary, “Isn’t that entrapment?”

Most of the time, the answer is a resounding “no” to both questions.

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Ohio’s solicitation law is pretty clear. Under R.C. 2907.24, it’s a crime to solicit someone else to have sex (or sexual activity) in exchange for money. If convicted of this, it’s generally a misdemeanor of the third degree, and it can carry a maximum jail sentence of 60 days. There’s no mandatory minimum jail time.

In other words, the court does not have to put you in jail if you are convicted. You could get probation, a fine, or nothing. Also check out Columbus City Code Section 2307.24(a), which makes it a crime to “recklessly” solicit another to have sex for money. Pretty much the same, except in Columbus it’s a first degree misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail).

The law doesn’t say anything about the other person being a cop. The law doesn’t say anything about the other person lying about being cop. It just says you can’t ask someone to have sex for money.

What does that mean? It means the police don’t have to tell you it’s a sting operation. They can lie about it. They can deceive you. They can bust you even though you asked if they were cops.

So, “What about entrapment?” That’s a good question. Generally speaking, entrapment is a defense when the police convinced someone to commit a crime he or she wouldn’t have otherwise committed. This means the person was not “predisposed” to committing the crime.

In our example, that’s a tough nut to crack. After all, our hero was the one who responded to the ad, showed up with money, and discussed sex.

There are, however, scenarios where entrapment becomes a bit more viable. Perhaps the ad only mentioned “clinical massage” and not a “sensual massage.” Then the proposed masseuse starts discussing something more. Our hero at first declines but is talked into it. Depending on the dialogue, entrapment could be used as a defense.

What’s the point? Don’t trust ads in the paper. Don’t trust the hot masseuse who tells you she’s not a cop. Or, better yet, don’t go looking to pay for sex.

We get it, though. Everyone slips. No one is perfect. If it happens, get a qualified criminal defense lawyer to help evaluate the options. Heck, just call us at Yavitch & Palmer 614-224-6142. It’s not the end of the world, and most of the time we can find a good solution to the problem, even if the cop lied and entrapment doesn’t fit the bill.

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