Defense Strategies in DC Solicitation Cases

If you or someone you know has been charged with solicitation in Washington, DC it’s important to make sure that you are building the strongest defense possible in order to keep your reputation intact and minimize the harm of these charges. Below DC solicitation lawyer Shawn Sukumar answers a series of frequently asked questions regarding possible defense strategies for solicitation cases including whether any constitutional issues typically arise when dealing with solicitation.

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Constitutional Issues in DC Solicitation Cases

There usually aren’t constitutional issues at play in solicitation charges because the encounters that the police have with private individuals in these undercover operations are typically considered to be consensual, which means there is usually no force involved, no coercion involved, they are voluntary encounters between undercover police officers and private individuals. Also, contrary to popular belief, undercover police officers do not have to identify themselves as police officers if they’re asked, so it’s not a constitutional or legal violation if a police officer denies being an undercover officer. Because the encounters are voluntary and consensual the statements made between the officer and the private individuals being investigated are not considered to be interrogation, so you’re not required to be read a Miranda warning prior to this conversation.

How Do You Build a Strong Defense in Solicitation Cases?

I always talk to my clients about their background, what they do for a living, any criminal history they may have.  This information will be helpful when discussing their case with the prosecutor. I always want to start off with trying to see if I can negotiate favorable resolutions for my clients so that they don’t have to go through the process of taking the case all the way to a trial, and in many situations were able to use favorable circumstances to try and work out a dismissal of their charges without a trial. In the even that going to trial is a better option, I look at how the undercover officer describes the incident to see whether he or she includes the facts necessary to prove the crime was committed, such as a specific discussion of sexual acts or sexual contact, mentioning the exchange of fees and actual agreement to engage in the alleged conduct. Gaps in that evidence can potentially result in a stronger negotiation position or potentially taking the case all the way to a trial to get the acquittal.

How Do You Investigate To Help Build a Defense?

Because they’re typically no audio recordings, no video recordings of these incidents the investigation does not involve listening to the actual conversation that happened between the undercover police officer and a client of mine. But in some circumstances there are independent witnesses to the incident who were not arrested or otherwise involved, who could potentially be called at trial to contradict the allegations of the police officer.