Prostitution Sting Hits Home

At least 20 people were arrested in late August, 2015 during a prostitution sting in Polk County, Iowa. Prostitution is illegal under Iowa law, but it carries different penalties depending on the age of the parties and circumstances.

Under Iowa Code Section 725.1, a person who sells or offers for sale the person’s services as a partner in a sex act commits an aggravated misdemeanor.  The same charge applies to the person purchasing or offering to purchase services as a partner in a sex act.

If the person purchasing services for a sex act does so from a person under the age of 18, that person commits a class “D” felony which is punishable by an indeterminate prison sentence not to exceed five years.

Iowa courts have interpreted the purpose of this section is to prohibit commercial exploitation of sexual gratification. (State v. Foster, 356 N.W.2d 548 (1984)). They have also found that there are no “magic words” or specific requirement to use the term “offer” in order to violate the statutes (State v. Schmidt, 588 N.W.2d 416 (1998)).

The courts in Iowa have determined that evidence for a conviction is sufficient if a common sense context of a defendant’s statements and the totality of the circumstances support the conclusion that an offer to sell sexual services was made. However, the individual and unique facts of each case matter and can make a significant difference in the outcome of the particular case.

Law enforcement officials in Iowa have focused their stings most recently on internet based prostitution, especially focusing their time and their resources on websites which are frequently used by those engaged in prostitution. Law enforcement officials have, in the last few years particularly, conducted large undercover operations resulting in arrests to bust prostitution throughout the State of Iowa. The undercover operations are often conducted by members of local law enforcement and special task forces. These types of undercover operations frequently result in front page news articles and high profile news stories which are highly covered and reported on, which also often result in the publishing of the names and photographs of the accused.

It is important to be defended by skilled legal counsel if charged with Prostitution. The public humiliation, embarrassment, and lasting impact upon one’s criminal record can be significant. If you or somebody you know finds themselves in a similar situation, contact Spellman Law, P.C. at (515) 222-4330.

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