Woman Arrested for Suspiciously Motioning
A Phoenix woman is appealing her conviction of a prostitution-related charge
by claiming that the law used for her arrest and conviction was interpreted
too broadly. She also argues that it infringed on her First Amendment rights.
The woman, who is transgender, was arrested under a Phoenix ordinance that
makes many common bodily gestures illegal. If a law enforcement officer
determines that a body motion is being used to sell sex, the officer has
a right to arrest that person.
These motions include:
- Gesturing to passers-by
- Engaging strangers in conversation
- Asking whether someone is a police officer
- Any act that is perceived as soliciting
The woman is a student at Arizona State University. An officer claims that
she exposed herself to him, asked if he was a police officer, and grabbed
him. As a result of this incident, she was arrested and sentenced to 30
days in jail for the misdemeanor offense. The woman had a misdemeanor
prostitution conviction from an incident in 2012.
Defense Lawyers Question Legality of Arrest
She says she was walking from her home to a bar in a place police have
deemed a hotbed for prostitution. It was here that an undercover officer
stopped and asked if she needed a ride to where she was going. Her lawyers
argue that she began flirting with the officer and did not intend to engage
in sex for money.right to free speech, which includes taking with strangers
The woman's lawyers say that the law is broad and does not definitively
create a line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but rather
arbitrarily allows some actions to be made criminal depending on who they're
done by. Further, the law prohibits the First Amendment right to free
speech, which includes talking with strangers and passers-by.
Just because a law enforcement officer perceived her actions as prostitution
does not mean the woman was engaging in sex crimes. The woman is appealing
the judge's decision to mark her as a prostitute in her community.
In instances like this, a criminal defense attorney can help defend an
individual's rights and help them avoid going to jail for a crime
they didn't commit. Call our firm today if you need legal counsel.