What is Prostitution under Florida Law? Can Prostitution Occur Online?

The law that applies to prostitution in Florida Statute Section 796.07. A portion of this law states:

(2) It is unlawful:
(a) To own, establish, maintain, or operate any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, or prostitution.
(b) To offer, or to offer or agree to secure, another for the purpose of prostitution or for any other lewd or indecent act.
(c) To receive, or to offer or agree to receive, any person into any place, structure, building, or conveyance for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, or to permit any person to remain there for such purpose.
(d) To direct, take, or transport, or to offer or agree to direct, take, or transport, any person to any place, structure, or building, or to any other person, with knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that the purpose of such directing, taking, or transporting is prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
(e) To offer to commit, or to commit, or to engage in, prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
(f) To solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
(g) To reside in, enter, or remain in, any place, structure, or building, or to enter or remain in any conveyance, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
(h) To aid, abet, or participate in any of the acts or things enumerated in this subsection.
(i) To purchase the services of any person engaged in prostitution.

With Internet dating, prostitution has crossed paths with online activity. In 2007, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office conducted a prostitution sting. Many people were arrested for prostitution in Jacksonville as part of this operation. The Florida Times Union reported the story:

Florida Prostitution Law

Increase in Florida’s college students becoming sugar babies

“Using ads for an escort service, Jacksonville police arrested 33 men this week in an undercover prostitution sting. Among those arrested on soliciting prostitution charges are business executives, Navy men, a firefighter and a former high school basketball coach. In the three-day operation that ended Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Office vice unit set up an escort service and waited for customers to respond to ads on Craigslist, an online classifieds site, and in the Times-Union. Police said the men met an undercover officer posing as a prostitute at a motel in the 6900 block of Lenoir Avenue and offered money – most around $175 – for sexual acts.”

These Craig’s List soliciting or engaging in prostitution arrests occurred over seven years ago. Today, I read an article about another website used to arrange meetings between adults. First Coast News reported:

“Nearly 20,000 students in Florida and Georgia have found a different way to pay for college. They are using so-called ‘sugar daddies’ and ‘sugar mammas’ they meet online to help pay their tuition and bills. It’s a short term arrangement that some fear could create a lifetime of baggage. Samantha Wilson is a single mom, a college student, and a sugar baby on the website SeekingArrangment.com.…. Wealthy men who checked out her profile and messaged her…. ‘A lot of them own their own businesses. A lot of them are executives. There are lawyers and doctors and just guys that spend most of their time at the office and don’t have time to go out and casually date,’ explained Wilson. The site touts ‘no strings attached’ and ‘upfront and honest arrangements with someone who will cater to your needs.’”

First Coast News also spoke with Kristen Johnson. She is a spokeswoman for the website. Johnson stated, “You exchange money for the companionship, for the friendship, for the mentorship. There are a whole bunch of things wrapped up in that, not just sex.” She also explained, “the average student receives $3000 a month in gifts, travel and money.” An influx of college students have been using seekingarrangment.com. The numbers have increased in Florida universities, such as the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida.

As we have seen in the past, where there is a suspicion of prostitution, there is an investigation. I would not be surprised to learn that local police, such as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, or federal officers are conducting some sort of investigation. College students must be careful not to cross the line from companionship to prostitution. A prostitution charge would create a criminal record that would show up on a Florida criminal background check.

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