Bellevue, WA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/03/2019 -- In the coming months, there may be some changes coming to Washington state law regarding the penalties for solicitation of prostitution. Under current state law, the punishment for prostitution; the illicit sale of sex, and for solicitation; the illicit buying of sex; are largely similar.
However, HB 1383, a bill that is making its way through the Washington State Legislature, proposes changes to the rules. If passed into law, the bill would make a second arrest for solicitation or prostitution a gross misdemeanor. Likewise, this is punishable by a maximum of 364 days in prison along with a $5,000 fine. A significant increase in penalties when compared to current law. For instance, solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail along with a $1,000 fine.The lead sponsors of the bill are Mike Pellicciotti (D-Olympia) and Vicki Kraft (R-Olympia).
With broad bipartisan support, HB 1383 has already passed in the Washington House of Representatives. In the coming days, the Washington State Senate will have its chance to vote on the measure. In fact, a committee vote is on April 2nd, 2019. If successful, the legislation could go before the full State Senate in the next several weeks. Should the reform packaged pass, lawmakers hope that the increased penalties will help to disincentivize potential "johns" for patronizing prostitutes. As explained by the Seattle sex crimes defense lawyers at The Nahajski Firm, "Sex-based offenses are already serious crimes in Washington. If Washington legislators do indeed pass this bill and sign it into law; there is little doubt that prosecutors will quickly begin seeking harsher sentences for defendants charged with solicitation of prostitution."
It is worth noting that the city of Seattle has also put local regulations in place to discourage prostitution. Under 5.290 of the Seattle Police Manual, a person convicted of prostitution or of the solicitation of prostitution may be on a Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution order, otherwise known as a SOAP. Under this type of legal order, a person is barred from entering high prostitution areas of the city at certain times of day. While breaking the terms of a SOAP is not a new criminal offense in Seattle, it is a violation of an offender's probation.
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