Police officers are held to high legal, moral, and ethical standards. They are supposed to protect citizens, enforce the law, and be role models in the eyes of the community.
Until they break the law themselves.
Vintyre Finney, an eight-year veteran of the Boynton Beach police department, was fired after he got tangled up in an undercover prostitution sting. Authorities claim Finney approached a woman he thought was a prostitute and offered her $20 for oral sex.
The woman, who wasn’t a prostitute, turned out to be an undercover deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and Finney was terminated for “conduct unbecoming a police officer and conformance to law.”
Finney has pleaded not guilty to the charges because of the sting and because the video released by the police depicts Finney’s contact with the undercover deputy out of context.
This incident shows that if a police officer can face solicitation of prostitution charges, it doesn’t matter who you are – you can still be charged. But it also shows that everyone – even police officers – deserves to have their day in court.
What Are the Solicitation and Prostitution Laws in Florida?
In Florida, it is illegal to buy, sell, solicit, offer, or agree to engage in sexual favors in exchange for money. There are laws against both prostitutes and “johns” – those that solicit prostitutes.
It is against the law to:
- Offer, or to offer or agree to secure, another for the purpose of prostitution or for any other lewd or indecent act.
- Offer to commit, or to commit, or to engage in, prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- Solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.
- To purchase the services of any person engaged in prostitution.
There are also Florida laws concerning places of prostitution, and engaging in prostitution if you are HIV positive as either the prostitute or the solicitor.
Can You Beat Solicitation Charges?
As mentioned above, Officer Finney’s lawyer is claiming the sting itself and Finney’s interaction with the undercover deputy were taken out of context. Are those valid defenses for a solicitation charge?
Of course they are.
Let’s first look at the sting part of this case.
Law enforcement officers often coordinate police stings in order to catch “johns.” And depending on the circumstances of the case, entrapment may be an issue in these stings.
Entrapment is a practice where police officers persuade or encourage a person to commit a criminal offense that they wouldn’t have been likely to commit otherwise. So if the undercover officer coaxes a solicitor into making an offer for a sexual favor, that solicitor may be a victim of entrapment. Entrapment is discouraged and is often a potential defense for a solicitation charge.
Now let’s look at the “out of context” aspect of this case.
If the entire situation was a misunderstanding or the defendant didn’t actually make an offer of money for a sexual favor, then no crime was actually committed. The allegations have to proven.
Although the Palm Beach Police Department has released a video regarding Finney’s “offer” to the deputy posing as a prostitute, it’s difficult to say if the video shows or tells the whole, truthful story.
Regardless of whether the allegations against Finney are true or not, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And your best chance of getting your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed altogether is to hire a respected South Florida criminal defense attorney to help protect your rights and fight for your freedom.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.