Sexually Oriented Business Violations

//Sexually Oriented Business Violations
Sexually Oriented Business Violations2018-09-19T03:29:32+00:00

Generally speaking, owning an adult novelty shop, topless bar, or similar sexually oriented business isn’t a crime. Working at these establishments isn’t a crime either. Because of their heavily regulated nature, however, owners and employees of these businesses can violate laws, whether intentionally or accidentally.

At the Law Office of Paul Schiffer, we know that these charges that sexually oriented business (“SOB”) laws have been violated can often be unfounded. We work with businesses, business owners, and individual employees who are facing SOB violation charges. We believe that you deserve the same chance as anyone else when it comes to representation. If you or a loved one has been accused of an SOB violation, contact our office to begin building your defense today.

What is a Sexually Oriented Business Violation?

In Texas, there are certain standards that all sexually oriented businesses have to meet. This is usually determined by local codes. In Houston, this is regulated under Municipal Code Chapter 28, Article VIII.

According to Houston’s municipal code, an SOB is any business that features live nude performances/entertainment for an audience of two individuals or more along with the consumption of alcoholic drinks. Strip clubs are the typical business one would think of in this regard but, according to the code, an SOB is any enterprise that is distinguished by an emphasis on sexual activities or certain anatomical areas that offers service or products intended for sexual stimulation or gratification. Other businesses that fall under this umbrella include:

  • adult bookstores;
  • adult cabarets;
  • adult lounges;
  • adult modeling studios;
  • adult movie theaters; and
  • adult parlors.

While these establishments are legal as long as they meet the municipal standards, violations can occur and lead to criminal charges. Some of the most common SOB violations are:

  • alcohol code violations;
  • blocking off public areas of the business;
  • clothing violations;
  • lighting/building violations;
  • three-foot rule violation; and
  • touching customers.

While some of these violations will fall on the owner of the enterprise, there are violations that fall on the employees, too. Employees at these establishments can’t touch customers or their clothing during a performance or get closer than three feet away from a customer. Similarly, they can’t perform privately in a space that has been separated from the rest of the establishment by a door, curtain, or other obscuring barriers. All employees have to abide by these regulations or risk being arrested and charged with a crime. Owners can also be held accountable for employee actions in these instances.

Proving Sexually Oriented Business Violations

As with any crime and trial, the prosecution would have to prove that the violation occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. An alleged violation would have to be reported and there must be evidence to back up the accusation. This means that there would either be witnesses who could speak on the violation or some kind of visual proof of it (video recording, photos).

If the violation in question is not related to employee conduct and has more to do with alcohol code violations or similar code issues, there would need to be proof of the code violation. This would usually involve an inspection by a government agent which would be sufficient proof, unless properly challenged.

Possible Penalties

According to Local Government Code Section 243.010(b), SOB violations are a Class A misdemeanor. In Texas, crimes that fall under that designation come with a possible year in jail and fines up to $4,000. The code also says that every day that a violation occurs can be considered its own offense and be punishable separately resulting in longer sentences and larger fines.

Further Ramifications

If violations occur in an establishment, there is a chance that the necessary permits making the SOB compliant will be revoked or suspended. This is especially true if the owner of the enterprise was convicted of violations or spent time in jail for similar offenses. This is usually following an official notice and hearing. The permit holder in question can attempt to get an injunction or a judicial review to try to reverse the decision within 30 days of receiving the decree to revoke the permit. After the 30th day, unless otherwise decided, the permit will need to be surrendered.

Sex Offender Registration

While an SOB violation can be sexual in nature, especially when it comes to employee violations, these aren’t considered reportable offenses and won’t require the accused to register as a sex offender. However, if other sexual crimes were committed along with one of these violations there could be other charges that might require a person to register as a sex offender.  

Possible Defenses

If you’re convicted of an SOB violation, there are defenses that a qualified attorney can use to help clear your name and maintain your freedom. A good defense attorney knows what to look for when examining evidence and talking to witnesses. There are times when these violations are fabricated or that what appeared to be a violation was actually just misidentified as one. Your defense attorney will use his knowledge of the law along with the skills he’s developed from experience to refute witness statements or to examine photographs and videos to spot discrepancies.

Cases of Entrapment

SOBs are commonly victims of sting operations by law enforcement. While these operations are lawful, they can sometimes take on a life of their own. In those cases, the agents in the operation may stretch their power too far and induce an innocent person to commit a crime they wouldn’t have without the agent’s actions or words. When this happens it’s known as entrapment.

If that has happened to you, a defense of entrapment might be possible. This type of defense has to show that the official involved induced the crime and that you as the defendant wouldn’t have committed the violation without that happening.

Why You Need a Defense Attorney

SOB violations can be highly technical, so you need a qualified defense attorney if you are charged. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an SOB violation is not serious enough for you to need an attorney. Failure to adequately defend against your charges might lead to additional charges being filed against you.

For example, the charging authorities may claim that the violation happened on multiple occasions. This will lead to multiple separate charges and therefore multiple penalties. If you have an experienced defense attorney on your side, it can help prove your innocence and preserve your right to continue your business.

If you or someone you love has been accused of a sexually oriented business violation in Texas, you need help from a qualified defense attorney. The Law Office of Paul Schiffer has experience defending these accusations. We know what it takes to build a solid defense in these cases. Don’t wait any longer. The sooner you get us on board, the sooner we can start working to preserve evidence that can be used to help you. Contact our office by phone, email, or through our website today.

How has Paul Schiffer Successfully Defended Cases of this Kind?

That’s a great question, but you won’t find the answer here. While there is nothing inherently secret about a great defense, some attorneys are simply better prepared, more creative, and more experienced than others. It’s that combination that makes Paul Schiffer successful in defending these cases. A professional sports team, or an army preparing for battle, doesn’t disclose its strategy to the opposition. It is only through a confidential, in-person, meeting with Paul Schiffer, where your information is protected by the attorney-client privilege, that he will discuss potential strategies that are tailored to your circumstances. Call today to set up a meeting with Paul in his office. Be sure to bring any paperwork or other information you have about your case or an investigation.   

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Call Texas Sex Crimes attorney Paul Schiffer today at (713)-521-0059 to start strategically building your defense.