Anyone who has been a criminal defense lawyer long enough has had his share of prostitution cases, especially if any part of his career was spent as a public defender. One common thread I have observed with prostitution defendants is that they tend to be magnets for scammers, schemers and abusers. That pattern proved to be the case for 24 year old woman, an alleged prostitute who was recently charged in South Central Pennsylvania with forgery, after she allegedly passed counterfeit 20 dollar bills to pay for a room at Motel 6.
The woman told police that she received the bogus 20 dollar bills from a client who had paid her for oral sex. I do not doubt her “adding insult to injury” story for a second. First of all, prostitutes are unlikely to be trained in counterfeit detection. Also, it is highly unlikely that she made these counterfeit bills herself. If she knew how to print money, I doubt she would be engaged in sex work with a lower echelon clientele.
Prostitutes on the lower end of the sex business hierarchy are constantly victimized by pimps, clients, other prostitutes, drug dealers and the boyfriends they occasionally have despite the nature of their occupation. Those at the upper end of the prostitution hierarchy, on the other hand, are known as “courtesans,” and can live like glamorous princesses, flown around the world by billionaires and millionaires. The fact that thsi scam victim was charging $100 for oral sex and staying at a Motel 6 is a pretty good indication that she was not exactly servicing clients like Elliot Spitzer, Charlie Sheen or a flamboyant Russian oligarch with a pet miniature giraffe and love of DirecTV.
The unfortunate defendant was lodged in York County Prison after failing to post $10,000 bail. The charge of forgery is a second degree felony punishable by a maximum penalty of five to ten years incarceration and a $25,000 fine. By contrast, a first or second conviction for the offense of prostitution is a mere third degree misdemeanor pursuant to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, and usually carries a sentence of probation. Prostitutes who wind up in jail are usually charged with more serious offenses, such as drug felonies, or in this case, forgery.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/