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How is prostitution defined in Washington?

Every criminal offense should be treated like a serious one. After all, any criminal conviction can seriously impact an individual's life. In the worst cases, a convict may have to serve decades behind bars. But, even seemingly minor crimes can leave an individual facing stints in jail, fines that threaten their financial well-being, and damage to their reputation that can haunt them for years or decades to come.

The latter may be especially true with certain crimes, like prostitution. Under Washington law, prostitution occurs when an individual either engages or attempts to engage in sexual activity in exchange for some sort of fee. Sexual conduct is broadly defined to include both sexual intercourse and sexual contact. There are exceptions, though. For example, an individual can raise an affirmative defense by claiming that they are the victim of human trafficking. Of course, enough evidence must be presented to raise reasonable doubt as to one's guilt

Although one may be able to raise a presumption of innocence if they are named in an investigation that led to the conviction of a human trafficker, that method is not the only criminal defense option available. For example, an accused individual could argue that they did not receive a fee in exchange for sexual activity. Even if something of value was exchanged, it could be argued, depending on the circumstances, that that exchange was for some other purpose.

Cases like this are very fact specific. Therefore, those facing allegations of felony or misdemeanor offenses should think about whether discussing the matter with a criminal defense attorney is in their best interests. A competent legal team will discuss plea bargaining and litigation options so that a criminal defendant has all the information they need to make the legal decisions they feel are best.

Source: Washington State Legislature, "RCW 9A.88.030," accessed on June 2, 2017

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