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State v. Romano

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant, Pame Romano, was arrested and charged with prostitution.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, prostitution does not qualify as private sexual activity and is not a protected liberty interest.

    Facts.

    Undercover police officer Jeffery Tallion was involved in a prostitution investigation and as a part of the investigation rented a hotel room and dressed in civilian clothes. After he looked through a local newspaper he called a number he saw in the paper for a massage advertisement. When he called, Romano answered and the officer asked if the they did “out calls”, which Romano responded affirmatively and proceeded to go to the hotel room and meet the officer. When she arrived the officer asked if she would do anything more than the massage and Romano agreed to assist in masturbation for an extra $20. She was arrested and charged with prostitution. Romano argued that Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) governed under the facts of her case. The judge rejected her argument.

    Issue.

    Whether under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, prostitution qualifies as private sexual activity and is not a protected liberty interest?

    Held.

    No. Under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, prostitution does not qualify as private sexual activity and is not a protected liberty interest.

    Dissent.

    Lawrence stands for the principal that consenting adults may engage in private activity in their home regardless of whether or not money is exchanged. Thus, to regulate a purely private activity within the home requires a compelling state interest.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    While Lawrence and its progeny stand for the principal that consenting adults may engage in private sexual activity in their home without intervention by law enforcement and the fact that private intimate sexual activity in the home is a protected liberty interest, prostitution is not. Thus, because the evidence is sufficient to support a conviction of prostitution, the trial courts ruling is affirmed. 


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