When Arlington police walked in to what they believed was a hotel room being used for prostitution this month, perhaps even they didn't know that, however unlikely, the two people they ended up charging could be confined to a farm if they are convicted.
Yes, a farm.
A law governing the confinement of people convicted of certain types of prostitution offenses in Virginia gives a judge the discretion to sentence those convicted to a city or county farm.
State law defines a "bawdy place" as anywhere inside or outside a building that is used for "lewdness, assignation or prostitution." The law makes it illegal to keep, reside in or visit such a place "for immoral purposes."
Violation is Class 1 misdemeanor, which is usually punishable by up to a year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or both. In this case — and for anyone convicted of aiding prostitution or "illicit sexual intercourse" or using a vehicle to promote such things — a judge has the discretion of confining those convicted to a city or county farm or hospital if one is available.
Arlington officials this month were not aware of any active county-owned farms. And Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos said she wasn't aware of any instance in Arlington where a farm had been part of a sentencing.
Still, Arlington police charged two individuals with keeping a bawdy place this month.
Police went to a hotel in the 1500 block of North Arlington Boulevard at about 12:09 a.m. Wednesday. They had been called out on a possible robbery.
When they arrived, they determined the person they made contact with was using the room for prostitution, police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told Patch. He described it as "similar to when people post online for escort services."
Neela Ahmadzi, 30, of Springfield, and Ahmed Hashimi, 30, of Woodbridge, were charged with keeping a bawdy place.
"They had rented a hotel room that was set up to host escort services in it," Sternbeck said. "They weren't engaged in acts of prostitution when we arrived."
Ahmadzi was released on a $3,500 secured bond, according to the Arlington County Sheriff's Office.
Sternbeck wasn't aware of anyone charged with keeping a bawdy place ending up on a farm, either.