Yesterday, the daily Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog visited the subject of prostitution prosecution with more than a little sarcasm and attempts at humor. I trust I have made my position known as to prosecution prosecutions, not that you asked. The fact is, however, that prostitution is illegal regardless of my opinion. As such, being arrested for it can lead to jail time.
It can also ruin your life in other ways.
Take, for example, a recent case in Haverhill District Court. Malissa M., 29, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), was arrested on charges of operating a house of prostitution. At the same time as her alleged crimes, she was on Massachusetts probation and going to school. She also had custody of her daughter.
Now? After she explained these concerns with the seemingly sympathetic police officers?
All three of these things, as well as her liberty, are at great risk.
The Defendant decided, instead of getting the advice of a lawyer first, to talk to law enforcement. The police often invite these types of conversations holding out the hope of leniency. Under Massachusetts law, they are allowed to mislead and blatantly lie, in order to gain a confession. Generally, there is no such leniency. In fact, it is not even the officers’ discretion once the district attorney becomes invo9lved. There is, however, a stronger case for the prosecution as a result of such statements.
According to a police report on file at Haverhill District Court, the Defendant told police that when she opened her downtown business, Star Touch Massage, she “tried to do the right things right away,” that she “didn’t do the sex for money thing all the time.” She also told police that her business was only open three days a week. But, things apparently changed at some point.
This past Wednesday, the Defendant and another 29 year old woman, were arraigned in Haverhill District Court on charges of operating a house of prostitution. The Defendant was also was charged with sexual conduct for a fee.
While her co-defendant was released to return for a pretrial hearing on April 21st, the Court ordered the Defendant held without bail at the women’s prison in Framingham after prosecutor John DePaulo said she had pending court cases against her.
“She is somebody who has all sorts of problems in all sorts of courts,” DePaulo said.
According to the Essex County district attorney’s office, the Defendant has a pending case in Lynn District Court where she was charged with Massachusetts assault and battery and vandalism, and was out on bail, and she was on probation related to an assault and battery case in Peabody.
During the Defendant’s arraignment, her lawyer argued that the instant case against her”may be a case of entrapment.” He asked the judge not to revoke her bail, saying she has a 12-year-old daughter, lives with her mother in Peabody, and was validly licensed as a massage therapist.
By the way, the fact that, by her own admission, she had been doing this before kind of wipes the defense of entrapment out.
The Defendant’s business came to public attention after her place was raided on Tuesday afternoon. Police said they had been investigating the business for five weeks after being tipped off to illicit activities by members of the community.
The raid occurred after an undercover officer posed as a customer and the Defendant, who he said owned the massage business, led the officer to a room where there was a massage table. The officer was in his boxer shorts waiting for a massage when the Defendant entered the room and asked why he was still “wearing those things” (boxers). When he asked if he should take them off she said, “Yes, go ahead, but we need to be quiet because there is a business next door.”
During the encounter, the Defendant is said to have offered the officer oral sex for $100 and “match play,” which the officer interpreted as sexual intercourse, for $200.
As she began to touch the officer, he advised her to stop. When she asked what was wrong and if he was a cop, the officer told her he needed to get $200 from an ATM because he wanted match play. The officer then contacted detectives waiting nearby and the two women were arrested.
As mentioned above, the Defendant pleaded with detectives that she “would not do it any more” and that she “needed a break,” the police report said.
You have already read the result of her statements and those pleas.
You may be ready to say, “Hey, listen, Sam. If the Defendant did not have all these other priors, she would not have been held.”
Maybe. But then, many people engaged in the sex trade have a troubled history. But, let’s assume the argument is correct and she had been released. Let’s look at the three concerns she voiced to the officer:
1.She is on probation. Ok, so that goes to the point of her history. You should know, however, that, even if she were to be released in the new case, the re-arrest (despite of the fact that she has yet to be convicted) is considered a violation of probation and so she is easily looking at incarceration on the probation surrender alone;
2.She is going to school. Mere arrests can effect a person’s future plans, particularly when they are still in school or training. In the instant case, the Defendant would be missing some classes anyway, given the fact of her incarceration. However, even without that, I have had cases where the school actually seeks to expel, or at least suspend, the student because of the ongoing criminal activity. The nature of the activity is often considered, and prostitution is rarely considered a good thing for the campus; and
3.She is afraid of losing her daughter. This will easily happen. Even if she were not incarcerated, the Department of Children and Families will now start an investigation as to her fitness as a parent. Given the crimes, they will feel hard-pressed not to find a basis for concern…especially given her confession.
And then there are a few other concerns. For example, if she is a licensed massage therapist as her attorney claims, she may be about to lose that license. Then, legal or otherwise, the business is closed.
So, the end result? When she gets out of jail, she is looking at more jail time, the loss of her daughter, the loss of her career and the loss of her future plans to which her schooling was directed.
We have not even touched the embarrassment and loss of reputation that she, and any exposed customers could face.
The bottom line? Whether you feel that these types of arrests are no big deal, they are a big deal. We may not agree with it…but that is the state of the law.
If you have reason to believe you are at risk as being investigated in connection with the sex trade, take it seriously immediately. Hire experienced counsel. I have handled a great deal of these cases. Believe me, it can change your life quickly and dramatically.
Have a good, safe and law-abiding weekend!
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.eagletribune.com/archivesearch/local_story_084214827.html