Prostitution is an offense that is commonly committed in the greater Philadelphia region. In the city, more than 800 women are arrested for prostitution annually and approximately 200 people are arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Nearly one-third of women booked into the city's jail has had a prostitution offense. In 2010, Project Dawn Court was implemented as an alternative or diversionary program that is focused on rehabilitating these offenders.
Prostitution and Related Offenses (§ 5902)
The offense of prostitution may be committed by an individual that is “an inmate of a house of prostitution” or participates in any sexual activities as a business. It may occur when an individual is loitering in a public venue seeking to be hired to participate in sexual activities.
First and second-time offenders are charged with a third-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. For a third offense, the changes are enhanced to a misdemeanor of the second degree. This is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine. Prostitution offenses are often accompanied by drug-related charges.
Project Dawn Court
The Project Dawn Court Diversionary Program is for women with multiple convictions for prostitution. This court program was the first of its kind in the U.S. The District Attorney is responsible for determining offender appropriateness and eligibility. Women who have been currently charged with prostitution are eligible. When they are accepted to the program the pending criminal proceedings are paused. Those who complete the program are then eligible to have their criminal charges dismissed.
Four Primary Phases
- To abstain from alcohol consumption and drug abuse for 30 days
- The completion of 90 days of outpatient treatment that may include educational programming and support services
- Participate in 120 days of “intensive treatment for sexual trauma”
- Complete a 120-day program of “reintegration”
Participants typically attend monthly hearings to measure progress. During these sessions, the defendants are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings with others to derive therapeutic benefits.
Defendants may undergo counseling and treatment related to child sex abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, parenting, and others. The process may be completed in as little as one year. Those who violate the requirements and conditions may face sanctions including an order to restart the program or be removed from the program. After completion of the program, the defendant must have no subsequent arrests for one year to have their charges expunged.
Recent Developments in Project Dawn Court
Thus far, more 70% of participants are successful in graduating from the program. The number of those entering the program each year is estimated to expand to 70 or more. Expansion of the Project Dawn Court was recently aided by a federal grant of $250,000.
Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney in Philadelphia
Joseph D. Lento has been effectively representing clients in Pennsylvania that are charged with various criminal offenses for many years. He closely reviews the allegations, evidence, and circumstances to design a powerful defense strategy. For a complimentary case consultation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.