One of two Tacoma men arrested for allegedly offering to pimp two undercover officers purporting to be underage prostitutes was recently released from a 20-year prison term on a 1992 case of rape and kidnapping.
Tacoma criminal defense lawyers understand that the 41 and 44-year-old suspects are accused of promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor, a felony as described in R.C.W. 9.68a.
Having a prior record that includes past violent felonies could mean severe consequences for at least one of the men, underscoring the need of anyone in a similar situation to have an experienced and skilled defense attorney on their side. According to The Seattle Times, the two officers were dressed like underage girls, and were mulling around the area of Westlake Plaza. This is an area that police have honed in on as having an abundance of prostitution activity.
Police say the two men approached the "girls" and began talking to them. They told the "teens" that they used to be in the pimping business, and that they could help the girls haggle with johns for various sex acts, rent out hotel rooms for them and ensure their safety on jobs.
The officers told the men they were only 17 years-old, to which they reportedly replied that the girls would simply have to lie about their age to potential clients.
The 44-year-old - the one who had served a decades-long sentence for rape and kidnapping - then attempted to get one of the officers into his vehicle. That's when the other officers moved in and made the arrests.
He has been jailed 13 times since 1986, for robbery, drug possession, burglary and rape and kidnapping. Meanwhile his co-defendant has been jailed 35 times since 1988 for crimes such as drug possession, promoting prostitution and domestic violence.
In the 1992 case, the defendant reportedly abducted two custodians - a male and a female - with a co-defendant. They were convicted of robbing the male custodian and raping the female custodian three times over the course of several hours. He was released in early 2010, and is a Level III - or high risk - registered sex offender.
Although the prior case can't be used to determine his guilt with regard to the current allegations, they can certainly factor against him if he is convicted, particularly considering this would be considered a sexually-motivated felony.
Washington State, in particular, has taken a hard line against human trafficking (which is what pimping is considered). There were a series of high-profile human trafficking cases in the mid-to-late 1990s. That prompted state legislators in 2003 to pass the country's first law to criminalize human trafficking. Two years ago, state lawmakers increased the proposed prison sentences for anyone involved in child sex-trafficking.
The two defendants are being held on bail between $75,000 and $150,000 and are considered a flight risk.
Sometimes in these situations, plea bargains will produce the best results - particularly if the evidence against you is substantial and you may be facing an enhanced sentence due to prior convictions. Still, there is much a defense attorney can do in the way of challenging evidence and the allegations made by law enforcement.
Timothy L. Healy defends individuals arrested for sex crimes or other serious misdemeanor and felony charges. Call the 24-hour hotline at 253-512-1140 for a free and confidential consultation.