As a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer I learn something new about laws every day. This is in part because criminal law constantly evolves. It is also due to the fact that not all laws are defined in black and white terms. When Massachusetts laws are vague advocating a particular position might involve comparing our laws to the laws of other states. So, a few days ago a perspective client came into my office to discuss a problem he has relative to having sex with a prostitute. While looking into some interesting legal defenses to his case I stumble upon articles about the state of Hawaii modifying laws to preclude cops from having sex with prostitutes. It came as a surprise to me to learn that at least until now, it was okay for the police to engage in sex with prostitutes and pimps as part of their investigative function. Upon reflection maybe I shouldn’t have been. Continue reading →
Several times in the past I have written about Massachusetts Human Trafficking cases and what I perceive as the prosecution stretching prostitution charges into human trafficking cases. The human trafficking cases are more serious than sex for a fee matters. I commented that people willingly involved in the world’s oldest profession would, under certain circumstances complain that they were victims and not willful criminals making good money for their services. Earlier today I read about a case in Newburyport where a woman, Huitong Huo was arrested and charged with sex for a fee after an undercover investigation disclosed that she was offering sexual services at her massage parlor. Interestingly enough, it was the defendant’s lawyer who suggested at the arraignment that Huo might have been a victim of human trafficking, not a criminal. Her defense is one of coercion. In other words, Huo is deflecting her responsibility to someone else. This article examines how this defense might be implemented in this case. Continue reading →
If you are wondering just how prevalent prostitution cases are in Massachusetts just open you local newspaper. At least once a week you can read about a local prostitution sting. If you want more detail just perform some basic Internet searches such as “prostitution arrest” in “your town”. You will quickly learn that the world’s oldest profession is conducted everywhere. No longer is prostitution simply associated with street hookers parading down the red light districts of major cities. Now, sex is advertised and sold in every town. Just go to Craigslist or Backpage and search for dates or massage services. Manicures and nail services are often code for sexual services as well. Recently, law enforcement has been focusing on flushing out the demand for sex rather than the supply. They do this through “stings”, the subject of this post. Continue reading →
Today’s Somerville Patch reports that a woman had been advertising her services over the Internet. Specifically, she offered sex for a fee. Her advertisement listed the Washington Street Holiday Inn in Somerville as her place of business. An undercover detective responded to the listing and met up with the woman in her hotel room. She requested one hundred twenty five dollars for one half hour of sexual services and two hundred dollars for a full hour. The woman, a sixty year old from Randolph, Massachusetts then took off her clothes, provided the undercover with a condom and laid out some rules for the encounter. She was then arrested and charged with sexual conduct for a fee, also known as prostitution.
I get calls on cases like this one from perspective clients on a regular basis. Several of them ask me the same question: “Isn’t this entrapment?” The answer is no. People think that police officers conducting covert operations that result in an arrest is entrapment. It is not. Entrapment is a defense to criminal charges that focuses on the predisposition of the accused. It is not entrapment for police officers to entice a prostitute or drug dealer into performing or attempting to perform their services. If the person is predisposed towards the commission of a crime and the police simply facilitate their efforts entrapment has not occurred. Entrapment is a viable defense where the government or its agents overcome the will of a person and in some way coerce them to commit a crime.
On several occasions I successfully represented people accused of trafficking cocaine with an entrapment defense. On one occasion I represented a recent college graduate (Jim) who enjoyed smoking marijuana and sometimes snorting lines of cocaine. One of his “friends” would share with him a small amount of cocaine. Unbeknownst to Jim the “friend” was actually an informant, trying to work off a pending drug case. The informant had convinced his handler, a state trooper, that Jim was a major drug dealer. In order to work off his case the informant had to produce, or, in this case introduce the trooper to a drug dealer and to actually access drugs.
So one day the informant brought the trooper over to meet Jim. The trooper was introduced as a cocaine supplier. During the meeting the trooper pulled out a small quantity of cocaine, similar to the amount that the informant would share with Jim. Jim and the informant snorted a few lines. The next day the informant called my client and told him that the individual he had just met wanted a large amount of cocaine and that he wanted Jim to get it for him. Jim was confused and wanted to know why this person would think he could get him a large quantity of cocaine. Jim said that he had no interest in this proposition. Over the course of the next several months the informant badgered and threatened Jim. He convinced Jim that the person who had given him some cocaine, the trooper, was dangerous and that Jim owed him. A record of hundreds of telephone calls was produced from the informant to Jim. The calls were made at all hours of the night. The informant incessantly harassed Jim and had him fearing for his life. Consequently, Jim gave in and agreed to produce a large quantity of cocaine. The informant introduced Jim to a major drug dealer and a deal with the undercover was ultimately consummated. Jim was arrested and charged. We were able to show that the government’s harassment of Jim overcame his will and forced him into the drug deal. Jim was acquitted before a Suffolk County jury.
As I was browsing the Brockton Enterprise today I came across a story about two people arrested on unrelated prostitution charges a few nights ago. The arrests occurred in Brockton, Massachusetts. Around 10:00 p.m. Charie Shaw was arrested and charged with Sex For a Fee. About an hour later Kenneth Ritter was arrested and charged with Sexual Conduct for a Fee and Possession With Intent to Distribute a Class B substance. No more information was offered relative to the details of the alleged crimes.
I have been representing people accused of Soliciting a Prostitute and for Prostitution for over twenty-six years. In the past several years I have noticed a troubling trend among law enforcement agencies wherein undercover officers, posing as prostitutes approach men, engage them in discussions about their services and make an arrest. On countless occasions the accused comes into my office and makes clear that he was approached by the undercover cop and had no interest in engaging their proposed services. In most of the instances, once the officer has any discussion with her target a surveillance team swarms in and either makes an arrest or tells the individual that a summons will be sent to his home. Many times the interaction is far from a “discussion”. Rather, once the officer initiates the conversation an arrest is made. Many of these accused had absolutely no interest in the services of a prostitute nor did they have any interest in even continuing the discussion that the undercover initiated.
Not long ago I represented a lawyer charged with Solicitation of a prostitute. He was with colleagues, leaving a restaurant after a late night dinner. The undercover officer approached this man and his friends and offered sexual services. All of them declined. As they were walking away the officer looked at my client and reduced her price. He jokingly said “how about one million dollars?”. He was arrested. Fortunately his friends were able to corroborate his story and the charges were dismissed. But what about those occasions where someone does not have a witness? Hopefully the accused will hire someone experienced at resolving these cases in a manner in which there will be no trace of a criminal record.
Anthony Maness is being held on fifty thousand dollars cash bail after being arraigned in the Westborough District Court on charges of Deriving Support from a Prostitute and Trafficking Persons for Human Servitude. The thirty seven year old Framingham, Massachusetts man is alleged to have forced a couple of women to work as prostitutes in Worcester County. Authorities claim that Maness forced two women, ages eighteen and twenty to work for him. The younger of the two eventually escaped and made a report of Maness’s activities to police in Medford, Massachusetts. The investigation led officers to a motel in Connecticut where Maness was arrested.
Massachusetts Prostitution Crimes Defense Law Firm
The crime of Human Trafficking is relatively new in Massachusetts. The law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 50 was passed in February of this year. The law states that anyone who uses, assists with, recruits or in any way promotes someone else to engage in sexual activity for commercial purposes, including live performances of a sexually explicit nature or pornography has committed the crime of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude. The punishment for a conviction of this offense is a mandatory five years in state prison. If the victim is under the age of eighteen then there is a possible life sentence that can be imposed after a conviction. This law is much tougher than the other crime with which Maness was charged, Deriving Support from Prostitution. That law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 7 has a maximum five year sentence and no minimum mandatory. That statute encompasses Pimping Laws in Massachusetts which is much less broad than the Massachusetts Human Trafficking Law. The Massachusetts Human Trafficking Law is so new that there is no case law interpreting, explaining or qualifying the statute at this time. This makes your choice of who you hire to defend you extremely important. You want someone who has experience challenging the constitutionality of new laws.
So what is going to happen to Mr. Maness? A lot depends on the willingness of the victims to testify. Are they credible? Can anyone or anything corroborate their disclosures? Do they have a motive to lie against him? How was it that Maness was able to prevent them from escaping prior to the time that one of the women went to the Medford Police Station to make her report? What criminal history do these women have, if any? Any Experienced Criminal Lawyer practicing in Massachusetts will want to investigate the answers to these questions and more while preparing his defense of a Massachusetts Sex Offense.
According to a recent article in www.wickedlocal.com just a few days ago two women were arrested and charged with Prostitution or Sexual Conduct for a Fee. The arrest took place at a “spa” in Needham, Massachusetts located on Dedham Street. Members of a Norfolk County Anti-Crime Task Force effectuated the arrests after a relative lengthy investigation. Later that day the officers made a similar arrest at a facility in Quincy. The article reports that the officers were able to access the businesses in an undercover capacity. The facilities at which the women were arrested are not properly licensed massage parlors. The cases will be prosecuted in the Dedham District Court.
Needham Prostitution Defense Attorney
Our office is retained on cases like this one regularly. This type of criminal activity in Massachusetts is becoming much more common in large part due to the internet. Once a “word of mouth industry” the business of Prostitution in Massachusetts now “advertised”. It is a booming business. Media outlets such as backpage.com and others permit people to offer their services. Customer responses are voluminous. Many of the women offering sex for a fee fly into Boston for a weekend, oftentimes during a convention or large event. They stay in top notch hotels where they perform the solicited acts. They often service several customers per day and leave Massachusetts with large profits. Massage parlors are notorious for providing the same services. The difference is that the illicit activity is masked by the appearance of a lawful business.
Just recently a large Prostitution sting in Boston resulted in scores of arrests. The operation involved undercover officers posing as prostitutes, soliciting and/or receiving solicitations and agreeing to a price and meeting place. When the customers arrived they were identified and arrested. All were charged with Sexual Conduct for a Fee. Our office represented several of these individuals. None of them were convicted and none of them have a criminal record. More importantly, there are no CORI entries that can be accessed by the public or perspective employers for these people. Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer is the best decision these defendants made.
Most of the time these cases are resolved prior to trial. Provided the accused has an Experienced Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer a typical disposition involves pretrial probation for six months to a year. This usually means no criminal record at least as to these charges. Recently these cases have gotten lots of attention and the “customers” have found themselves identified in local newspapers or on police logs. Law enforcement does this deliberately to deter others from engaging in this type of conduct. This is not only embarrassing it often has a negative effect on job searches, promotions or social activities. Sometimes media outlets agree to removing the name of the accused with the urging of the defendant’s Criminal Lawyer.
According to at least one person Kimberly Pietrini and Hassan Wilkes were on vacation and staying at a Framingham, Massachusetts motel. Why Wilkes was at a Dunkin Donuts near the motel Pietrini met with a man who responded to her backpage.com advertisement. The man met Pietrini at the motel. He assured her that he was not a cop. A fee arrangement was made and Pietrini told the man to place his money on a night table and take his clothes off. Unbeknownst to Pietrini, the man was an undercover police officer. She was arrested and charged with Prostitution. At the same time, Pietrini was getting texted by Wilkes. Police found him at the nearby donut establishment. Wilkes denied knowing that Pietrini was working at the time. He did acknowledge that she works as a prostitute. Wilkes was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Prostitution and Deriving Support from a Prostitute. The charges are pending in the Framingham District Court. Pietrini pleaded guilty at her arraignment. She was fined two hundred fifty dollars.
Depending on the accuracy and completeness of this article Wilkes might want to fight these charges. Deriving support from prostitution in Massachusetts is a violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 7. The crime is a felony and carries a state prison sentence if the district attorney indicts the case and prosecutes the charges in the superior court. To convict Wilkes the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
• That Pietrini engaged sex for a fee
• That Wilkes knew that she did so
• That Wilkes shared in her earnings from that act.
By all accounts Wilkes is guilty of no more than knowing that Pietrini was a prostitute. The prosecution can probably not even show that he knew that she was engaging in such an act while he was out of the room. As a Massachusetts Prostitution Defense Lawyer I am interested in knowing what the text messages from Wilkes to Pietrini said. If nothing inculpatory was texted that in all probably Pietrini would have to testify against him and it is highly unlikely that she would do so. Cases like this often go to trial and get dismissed on a motion for a required finding. Motions to dismiss can be filed and argued, and on occasion these can be successful in the district court. This is an alternative to trial and a good way to rid the court system of cases that have no viability. This tactic requires the right set of facts, the right judge and a defense lawyer who knows and is able to argue the law. It is abundantly clear why Wilkes chose to plead not guilty at his arraignment as opposed to Pietrini.
In a somewhat rare move local authorities have charged Dilip, Navin and Ashok Patel, owners of a local Days Inn with a criminal complaint that they permitted immoral conduct at their Methuen, Massachusetts hotel. According to a report in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune the hotel has been catering to drug usage, permitting minors to drink alcohol and for Prostitution. For nearly a four month period the Methuen Police have filed about twenty complaints at the hotel against various people. Efforts of the authorities to meet with the Patels have been fruitless according to the report. The Methuen police chief went so far as to say that the motel owners will not meet with the police. Here is a summary of some of the incidents alleged to have occurred at the motel recently:
• An underage drinking party in February wherein nine people under the age of twenty one were summonsed into court for a criminal application
• A March prostitution sting following complaints from restaurant customers in the motel. The customers were offered sex for a fee. Investigating the complaint officers set up an undercover operation. They met with two women who offered their sexual services. Both were arrested. During the arrest Cocaine was found in their possession. Criminal charges followed. There is a suggestion that a backpage.com operation has been run out of that establishment
• A baby was delivered at the hotel in a room in April and found dead in the room
• An investigation at the motel disclosed that an individual was using the establishment to Derive Support from a Prostitute (Pimping). The pimp was allegedly Distributing Class E substances as well
• There have been thefts from the bar at the hotel
• There have been fight in the bar resulting in Assault and Battery charges issuing
• There have been arrests made in the motel parking lot for Drug Distribution
• There have been charges of Domestic Assault and Battery filed as a result of incidents at the motel
• There was a death resulting from a drug overdose at the hotel
It appears that the district attorney will prosecute this case under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140 Section 26. That law permits the prosecution of anyone who knowingly permits his motel to be used for “immoral solicitation” or “immoral conduct”. A conviction for this charge can result in a one year jail sentence. This crime is a misdemeanor. The defendants’ Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer will likely defend this case by arguing that the defendants did not know what was going on in their motel and that they never permitted that type of conduct. This case will be difficult for the prosecution to win. The fact that the defendants refused to cooperate in the investigation cannot be used as evidence of their intent. It cannot be used as evidence at all. Attributing knowledge to the owners might also be difficult if they were rarely on the premises. This article suggests that the motel was managed by someone other than the owners. That suggests that they had no idea what was happening when these incidents allegedly took place. Getting a conviction for these charges will be difficult if not impossible.
Jeanette Bearden of Carson, California was arraigned in the Lynn District Court yesterday after undercover police officers arrested her for Prostitution. Bearden, 44 had placed in advertisement on www.backpage.com in which she offered unspecified services. Responding to the ad were local police officers. One of the officers called the number listed by Bearden. Bearden referred him to her website which provided a service and rate chart. With a surveillance operation in place the officer went to Bearden’s hotel room in Saugus, Massachusetts. She solicited him telling him that he would have to take his clothes off. The surveillance team entered the room and effectuated an arrest. The operation took place this past Wednesday. Bearden has been charged with Sexual Conduct for a Fee. Bail in the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars was set.
Backpage has become the most popular website for this type of activity. Its popularity has soared since Craigslist got rid of its domestic erotic services section back in September of 2010. Making arrests for this activity is relatively easy however curtailing the activity is not. You can read internet articles and see that arrests are made daily using the investigative techniques that resulted in Bearden’s demise. However, compare this to the number of advertisements that are placed daily and you will see that eradicating this activity is impossible. Many of the people arrested in these operations are from out of state. They fly into a different city, set up their operation, work and leave after a short stay. This makes monitoring their activity difficult if not impossible. Prostitution laws differ from state to state. The prostitutes know this. Websites post comparative laws for prostitution convictions. This enables the more savvy participant the opportunity to keep his or her operation fluid and more likely to avoid detection.
Sex For a Fee in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor. There is a maximum one year house of correction sentence that can be imposed upon a conviction for the offense. For first time offenders a good Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney might be able to get the charges dismissed on court costs or convince the district attorney to agree to pre-trial probation. This makes your selection of a criminal lawyer all the more important. Before hiring a lawyer for a Prostitution in Massachusetts charge make sure that the lawyer has explained to you all of your rights and options. You also want to make sure your lawyer has experience in the court where you have been charged and that he or she has appeared before the judges who sit in that courthouse.