Prostitution, hiring a prostitute, and running a prostitution business are illegal in Massachusetts.
People who hire or attempt to hire a prostitute are commonly referred to as “Johns” and have committed the crime of Soliciting for a Prostitute in violation of Mass General Laws Chapter 272 Section 8. Soliciting for a prostitute is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 2.5 years in a house of correction and/or a fine of at least $1000 but no more than $5000. That person may also face charges under Chapter 272 section 53A with the same potential penalty. If the prostitute is under 18 the charge is a felony and the potential penalty is greater: up to 10 years in state prison or up to 2.5 years in a house of correction and a fine of no less than $3000 and no more than $10000.
I represented a man who was questioned by local police as he left a suburban hotel room where he had met with a prostitute. The officer promised not to charge him if he was forthcoming and my client admitted to receiving a massage and a hand job in the hotel room. Later he was charged with solicitation despite the officer’s promise. Ultimately the charges were dismissed upon the payment of a fine and completion of community service.
A person who offers to perform or performs prostitution services is violating chapter 272 section 53A which prohibits Engaging in Sexual Conduct for a Fee. This is a misdemeanor that carries a sentencing or up to 1 year in a house of correction and a fine up to $1000 or both. A first time violation often is resolved with the dismissal of charges upon completion of community service and payment of a fine.
Someone who accused of owning or managing a massage studio where prostitution services are offered would likely face charges of Maintaining a House of Prostitution in violation of Mass General Laws chapter 272 section 6. This is a felony with a potential state prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of $5000. This charge cannot be continued without a finding. A more colorful and outdated-sounding charge is Keeping a House of Ill Fame in violation of chapter 272 section 24 which carries a sentence of up to two years. There are several charges available for what is commonly known as “pimping;” Knowingly Sending Another to Engage in Prostitution in violation of chapter 272 section 12 carries a sentence between 3 months to two years and a fine and Deriving Support From or Sharing the Earnings of a Prostitute in violation of chapter 272 section 7 carries state prison sentence up to five years and a fine of $5000.
Years ago I represented an person who owned a massage studio. An undercover police officer scheduled a massage with one of the therapists and claimed that he negotiated to pay the therapist and extra fee for a hand job at the end of the massage. The police quickly go a search warrant and found no evidence of a prostitution operation. They took the money from the register however. Once the dust settled I learned that the police officer had communicated to the Chinese-speaking employee using a translation app on his phone. Have you ever tried to have a conversation using Google Translate? Would you trust that interpretation in a court of law? The charges against my client were dismissed as there was no evidence that she knew what her employee had been doing. In some repsects my client was lucky. If her employee had made a self-serving claim that she had been forced to perform these services, the police would have happily charged my client with human trafficking and enjoyed the accolades given when alleged sex trafficking rings are broken up.
If you are being investigated or have been charged with prostitution, solicitation, running a house of prostitution, or any other related crimes, please contact my office for a consultation.