The State of Oregon takes a dim view of the entire business of prostitution. Oregon’s prostitution laws are tough. You can get charged and convicted on a prostitution related charge without ever having any physical contact with another person. Simply agreeing to pay for sex gives law enforcement personnel sufficient probable cause to make an arrest.
Oregon has a variety of laws designed to criminalize prostitution related activities. The following are the laws most commonly used in cases involving prostitution.
Prostitution – ORS 167.007 makes it illegal to engage in sexual conduct or contact for money. Per the statute, it is also illegal to offer or agree to exchange money for sex or sexual contact. This means that you can be arrested for prostitution if you even suggest or imply that you’re willing to pay money for sex or sexual acts.
This is a Class A misdemeanor.
Commercial Sexual Solicitation – ORS 167.008 makes it illegal to pay, offer or agree to pay a fee to engage in sexual contact or conduct. In order to be arrested and charged under this law, you don’t have to explicitly say that you will pay X in order to receive Y. It is enough to engage in an activity that could lead to an act of prostitution. This is also a Class A misdemeanor.
Slowing down while driving, driving around a block, smiling, winking or whistling can all be interpreted as solicitation. In some cases, eye contact is enough to cause an arrest. These activities also apply to pedestrians who the police think are attempting to attract the attention of drivers. These types of activities are especially risky in areas where the police know that prostitution occurs. Driving slow with your window down is more than enough probable cause for an arrest in an area that the police consider “high-vice”.
Promoting Prostitution – ORS 167.012 makes it illegal to:
This is essentially a law that makes pimping or pandering illegal. Unlike the previous two prostitution laws, promoting prostitution is a Class C felony.
Compelling Prostitution – ORS 167.017 makes it illegal to force or compel anyone to be a prostitute or to facilitate or cause a person under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution. The law specifically states that the state in cases involving a minor, the state does not have to prove that you knew the other person involved was a minor. It is also not a defense to claim that you thought the other person was older than 18. Compelling prostitution is a Class B felony and carries a minimum sentence of 70 months in prison.
It is common for Oregon law enforcement agencies to conduct undercover prostitution sting operations. These may include undercover police officers who pose as prostitutes in an attempt to get members of the public to solicit them. They can also involve placing an ad in local publications that implies potential sexual activities. People respond to the ad by calling a telephone number or through email and text messaging. When they do respond, an arrangement for sex in exchange for money is made. When the “john” goes to a prearranged meeting place (usually in a motel or hotel), their phone is seized and searched for telephone numbers or messages. An arrest is then made.
Alternatively, the law enforcement officers involved in the sting will ask the john to bring along some type of controlled substance to the meeting. If this occurs, delivery of a controlled substance or possession of a controlled substance charges are added to the prostitution charges.
It should be noted that even if you don’t live in a locale where prostitution is a problem, you could still be caught by a sting operation. Suburban police departments with little or no prostitution activity will engage in stings simply because of the positive media coverage and PR that results.
If you were arrested or received a citation for commercial sexual solicitation, it is likely that you were released on your own recognizance and directed to appear in court at a certain date and time. A failure to appear in court at the directed time will result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
If this is your first offense, an attorney experienced in Oregon prostitution defense may be able to arrange to have the charges against you dismissed in exchange for your enrollment in a Sex Buyer Accountability and Diversion program. In this program, you must remain crime free for six months and attend a mandatory “john’s” class that educates you about the ugly realities of prostitution. The class is approximately 8 hours in length and costs, on average, about $1000. If this is not your first offense, a conviction will result in fines and, more importantly, a criminal record that cannot be expunged for at least three years.
Don’t take the prostitution related charges against you lightly. The State of Oregon takes prostitution seriously. Take the time to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options.