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Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place

Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place

This offence is governed by section 12(2)(b) of the Sex Work Act 1994. It refers to the act of inviting or encouraging a sex worker to engage in sexual behaviour in exchange for financial benefit.The charge exists to protect the safety of sex worker’s and the safety of those in the community. Areas of high Public prostitution generally experience an increase in drug culture, littering and trespassing.1It is not a charge that often comes before the courts.


[1] http://www.jaconline.com.au/legaloutcomes/hot-topics/downloads/008-prostitution.pdf
Male and female in distance, interacting
As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
 
What is the legal definition of Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place?
A person must not invite a person to offer sex work services to themselves or others in a public place.

Examples of Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place
  • Engaging the services of a sex worker in a public place. For example in parkland, backstreet or private property.
  • Requesting the services of a sex worker who is on the way home from her shift at a brothel.
Elements of the offence
The Prosecution must prove:

  • That the accused had been in a public place; and
  • That the accused was inviting or soliciting any person to offer sex work services to himself or herself with him or her or with another person.
Legislation
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 12(2)(b) of the Sex Work Act 1994.
 
Criminal defences that may be available, amongst others to this charge include honest and reasonable mistake or belief, concept of beyond reasonable doubt, incorrect factual matrix, and absence of the required intent.

Questions in cases like this
  • How was the agreement made?
  • Where did the alleged activity take place?
  • Was there a payment?
Deciding on whether to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to this charge is a crucial matter that you must consult with a criminal solicitor. Given the potential penalties, it is worth dealing with this sort of charge very carefully.
 

In the case of a first offence for Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place (s12(2)(b) of the Sex Work Act 1994), a Court may impose a fine of 10 penalty units ($1,611 at the time of print) or one month imprisonment as the highest possible sentence. A second offence of this kind attracts a fine of 30 penalty units ($4,835) or three months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence. Subsequent offending may see the accused sentenced within the range of a fine of 60 penalty units (around $9,672) or six months imprisonment as the maximum.

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016, there were 45 cases (46 charges) of Client Invite or Solicit for Prostitution in Public Place that were heard in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria. These cases resulted in the following sentences:

  • Fine – 44.4%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 26.7%
  • Community Correction Order – 17.8%
  • Imprisonment – 6.7%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 2.2%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 2.2%
There were only 3 cases that led to imprisonment, one for a term that was less than 3 months, another between 3 and 6 months, and the other between 6 and 12 months.

Fines imposed also fell under 3 categories. The highest amount was under the “$1,000 < $2,000” category which was applied in 9.1% of the charges that led to fines (for aggregate). This was also the most frequently imposed along with the “Less than $500” category – also applied in 9.1% of the charges that resulted in fines (for aggregate). For non-aggregate fines, the most frequently imposed were the categories “Less than $500” and “$500 < $1,000” which were each applied in 36.4% of the charges that led to fines.2

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.3


[2] SAC Statistics – Sex Work Act 1994 (Vic) : s 12(2)(b) – client invite or solicit for prostitution in public place < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/94_102_12_2_b.html >
[3] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >