CHARLESTON, W.Va.--A proposed Charleston ordinance that would eliminate the possibility of jail time for some first-time prostitution offenses will be discussed at city council's Ordinance & Rules Committee meeting at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. today.
Currently, city code allows first-time prostitution offenders to receive up to a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail. The ordinance nixes jail time as a possible sentence, but leaves the fine in place.
In addition, the ordinance also would retroactively apply to "all pending, but not yet finally adjudicated charges."
If the Ordinance & Rules Committee approves the ordinance with or without changes, it will go to the full council for final approval. The committee could also kill the bill.
The ordinance comes after a Daily Mail report that the name of a prominent West Virginia lobbyist, Phil Reale, was left off a list of people arrested during a July prostitution sting on the West Side. The charges against Reale were dropped with prejudice on Aug. 13, meaning the case could be brought to municipal court again.
After the story ran, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he wanted those charges to be re-filed against Reale, but also said he didn't think jail time was appropriate for anyone convicted of certain first-offense prostitution crimes.
Therefore, as written, the ordinance would eliminate jail time for Reale and any others charged with four specific prostitution crimes who have not been sentenced.
Those crimes are engaging in prostitution, entry to a house of prostitution, enticing for prostitution and loitering for prostitution.
Penalties related to keeping houses of prostitution; harboring or permitting entrance to persons under 18 to a house of prostitution; and use of premises for prostitution would not change.
All city council and council committee meetings are open to the public.