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Buyer Beware: St. Pete Police Have New Law to Fight Prostitution

Pinellas Crime | Local News | TB Reporter

By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor, TB Reporter

The customers of hookers are being targeted.

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg police since Oct. 1 have been using a new state law
in their effort to curb prostitution. The law provides stronger punishments for those individuals, commonly known as “johns,” who solicit a person to commit prostitution.

Here’s how it works:

  • The judge is required to assess the offender, when convicted or a guilty plea is entered, a civil penalty of $5,000.
  • “Johns” will be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor upon their first conviction. Their second violation will be treated as a third-degree felony and their third violation a second-degree felony. (Up until now, it has
    been a second-degree misdemeanor.)
  • In addition to the normal penalties imposed, once the person is convicted, the judge is required to order the offender to perform 100 hours of community service and to pay to  attend an educational program about the harmful effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
  • Upon a second conviction or any subsequent convictions thereafter, the judge is required to sentence the offender to a minimum mandatory of 10 days in the county jail.
  • If a vehicle is used in the course of the violation and the offender is convicted of the crime, the judge is allowed to issue an order impounding or immobilizing of the vehicle for up to 60 days.

Police believe the new law will have a deterrent effect on many of those who seek out prostitutes and in doing so unwittingly encourage drug addiction, human trafficking and related crimes which affect the quality of  life of citizens and the prosperity of business communities.

St. Petersburg | Police | Crime | TB Reporter

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