Sexual Conduct for a Fee
In Massachusetts it is a crime to pay money in exchange for sexual favors, or to perform a sex act in exchange for money. Both scenarios are covered by the state’s Sexual Conduct for a Fee statute, under which both the “John” and prostitute may be prosecuted.
In the prosecution of a male or female accused of prostitution the Commonwealth must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, it must be shown that the defendant engaged, or agreed to engage, or offered to engage in sexual conduct with another person. Second, the Commonwealth must prove that what was done (or was to be done, in cases where an agreement was reached but the act was never consummated) in return for a fee. Alternatively, in a prosecution of the “customer or procurer”, the Commonwealth must demonstrate that the defendant paid, agreed to pay, or offered to pay another person, and that the payment was in exchange for that person’s engaging in sexual conduct or for that person’s agreeing to engage in sexual conduct with the defendant or another person.
It is important to note that the term “sexual intercourse” encompasses a wide variety of sex acts, many of which may not be considered to be “sex” in the true sense. For example, the statute penalizes the payment and receipt of money in exchange for vaginal and anal sex, but also for any act of oral sex, masturbation of another person, and “any other intrusion of a part of one person’s body or some other object into the genital or anal opening of another person’s body.”
The crime of sexual conduct for a fee has developed rapidly with the constant improvements in technology, and the marketplace for sexual service is now more likely to be online than on a darkened street corner. Specifically, websites including but certainly not limited to Craigslist allow individuals to meet in hotels or other discrete locations to carry out a sexual transaction. Unfortunately for many defendants, law enforcement tactics have developed accordingly, to the point that a large amount of these trysts are actually arranged by undercover detectives, who then make the arrest when an individual shows up at the agreed upon place at the agreed upon time. Such arrests often evolve into rather complex legal cases, as the computer records of the defendant will often be critical evidence for the prosecution, and, if presented to a jury, may effectively function as a sort of confession insofar as they demonstrate an intent and agreement on the part of a defendant to exchange money for sex, or vice-versa.
Similarly, the prevalence of “massage parlors” throughout Massachusetts implicates the sex for a fee statute, as some, though certainly not all, of these establishments are essentially houses of prostitution. As such, they are frequently the target of undercover “sting” operations, in which a detective will pose as an individual seeking services well beyond the standard massage. As described above, the mere agreement to perform the requested act in exchange for money can result in an arrest, regardless of whether the act was performed.
If you or a friend or family member have been charged with engaging sexual conduct for a fee, it is crucial that you retain an experienced criminal attorney to handle your case. Attorney Daniel Cappetta is experienced in the defense of this charge. Call Attorney Cappetta today at (508) 762-4540 for a free consultation.