Fourteen people, all but two of whom were women, were arrested last week after an undercover police investigation broke up a string of prostitution operations in Clay County. The investigation began after complaints from neighbors and led to three massage parlors and an escort service, all four of which featured women allegedly offering sex for money, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. At the massage parlors, undercover detectives asked for a massage and women later offered to perform sex acts for between $40 and $80, the newspaper reported.
On their own, these prostitution cases would be Clay County Misdemeanor Crimes. Prostitution and soliciting for prostitution are both second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by no more than 60 days in jail. But in these cases, it’s not just the prostitution itself that has some of those arrested looking at serious time behind bars and Clay County Felony charges. For example, one of the women arrested also allegedly had cocaine on her at the time. She’s charged with a misdemeanor for prostitution, but a third-degree felony for possession of a controlled substance that could land her up to five years in state prison. And, strangely, some of the women arrested at the massage parlor are facing Clay County Felony charges, simply based on the way they went about offering sex acts. Some of the women are charged with unlicensed practicing of a health care professional – essentially offering massages without being licensed as a massage therapist. That charge, too, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. One of the men is also looking at a Clay County Felony, charged with deriving support from prostitution, a third degree felony also punishable by up to five years in prison. Essentially his role is what’s commonly known as a pimp, providing the women for a sex act and taking a cut of the money she earns.
The difference between a Clay County Misdemeanor and Clay County Felony can be huge – even if the crimes seem to be very similar. It is possible that the state could choose to reduce some of the felonies for practicing health care without a license down to a prostitution misdemeanor. But they may be looking to send a message, and felony convictions are certainly one way to do that. Either way, if the women do not have long criminal records, they could be eligible for what’s known as a withhold of adjudication, meaning the outcome will not show on the person’s record as pleading guilty, provided certain conditions are met. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people on misdemeanor and felony charges, and can explain all of the potential consequences. Our Clay County Criminal Lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to try to get a resolution that you or your loved one is satisfied with, or take the case to trial, however you choose to proceed in the case.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Misdemeanor Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.