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How is the Crime of Sexual Exploitation Unique in Seattle?

In 2015, Seattle’s local government chose to rename the misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute to sexual exploitation. While the name of the crime may have changed, the charges are the same. There is no difference between sexual exploitation charges and patronizing a prostitute. So, that begs the questions, is there a difference between the two charges and does it matter what the charge is called? Since there is no legal difference between the two charges, the law doesn't notate a difference between a sexual exploitation charge in Seattle and a patronizing a prostitute charge in Yakima.

While it may not matter legally, the charging name matters outside the courtroom. There has been an increase in uproar since the passage of the name change, with many of those convicted feeling the change in name adds a stigma to the crime that was not there before the change. City officials in Seattle changed the name of the crime to remove the word prostitute, which many thought demeaned those engaging in sex work. The name change was also part of Seattle city leaders’ plans to shift law enforcement efforts towards solicitors and purveyors of sex work.

To understand sexual exploitation charges requires understanding the following:

  • How is a person charged with the crime?
  • Are sting operations ending with sexual exploitation charges legal?
  • What are the tactics or tricks used to arrest an alleged sex solicitor?

The words used to describe a crime are important, which is why some of the charges used can be confusing for the public. Sexual assault casts a wide net, encompassing many crimes, and similarly, the impression given by a charge of sexual exploitation can make a charge seem more dangerous and severe than in the legal code.

How Sexual Exploitation Cases are Built

Sexual exploitation cases are typically built using evidence collecting during police raids and stings. Law enforcement uses these types of tactics to rid cities of crime. The goal of a sting operation is to find evidence of intent to engage a prostitute in violation of the law.

Operations typically provide evidence of:

  1. An offer made between parties to engage in sexual congress or conduct
  2. Specific sex acts to be performed
  3. References of money
  4. A planned place to conduct sex acts

Explicit digital ads are placed on Craigslist, Backpage, and other sites to help the police find sex workers and solicitors seeking sex acts.

Creating a Legal Defense in Sexual Exploitation Cases

If you’ve been charged with sexual exploitation, you’d be right to be worried. An experienced attorney can help you put together a legal defense. Our attorneys will aggressively fight for your rights by ensuring your case was fairly executed. Call (206) 895-6800 today to schedule a consult with our sexual exploitation attorneys.