Last year, on December 2, 2022, Judge Jay Robinson of the Dallas Municipal Court found that the Dallas City Ordinance for Manifesting for the Purpose of Engaging in Prostitution was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. After this finding, the Dallas Police Department continued to cite people and even arrest people for allegedly violating this ordinance. The Dallas Police Department even arrested people as late as June for allegedly violating this ordinance. In essence, someone could be arrested for being in an area that has a history of prostitution and trying to hail a taxi. That is how broadly written this ordinance was.
On July 27, 2023, Kristin Wade of the Dallas County Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Robinson’s decision. The City of Dallas has decided not to appeal the decision to a higher court. Consequently, the Dallas Municipal Court has dismissed all pending cases under this ordinance. The Dallas Police Department stated that they will no longer arrest people for this charge and will stop issuing citations for it.
However, this is not the only ordinance that the City of Dallas has on the books like this. Section 31-30 of the Dallas City Code prohibits Manifesting for the Purpose of Selling Illegal Drugs and Chemicals. There are several factors an officer may consider to determine whether someone is violating this ordinance. Among them is whether a “person repeatedly passes or receives from passers-by, whether on foot or in a vehicle, money, objects or written material.” That means that a person could be violating this ordinance for passing out literature to attend a church, to vote for a candidate or even how to get help for drug addiction.
This ordinance is so similar to the one that was already found unconstitutional that you would think that all these cases would have been automatically dismissed as well. However, just two days ago, there was a case on the trial docket for violating this ordinance. If you or anyone you know has been charged with this offense, do not pay it. Do not do time served on it. You need to fight it.