Literally, solicitation means: 'urgently asking'. It is the action or instance of soliciting; petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

; proposal
Proposal (business)
A business proposal is a written offer from a seller to a prospective buyer.Business proposals are often a key step in the complex sales process—i.e., whenever a buyer considers more than price in a purchase.-Overview:...

. In criminal law, it most commonly refers to either the act of offering goods or services, or the act of attempting to purchase such goods or services. Legal status may be specific to the time and/or place where solicitation occurs.

England and Wales

In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, the term soliciting is usually "for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution
Prostitution in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, prostitution itself is not a crime, but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning a brothel, pimping and pandering, are crimes....

" under the Street Offences Act 1959. The crime of soliciting should not be confused with the profession of a solicitor, which under UK law is typically that of a lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

, who may also function as a legal agent to obtain the services of a barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 on behalf of a client.

The description of kerb crawler
Kerb crawler
A kerb crawler is a person who drives around areas known for street prostitution soliciting prostitutes for sex. The act is known as "kerb crawling" because the person will typically drive very slowly along the kerbside....

 makes clear that 'the addressing or accosting by a potential prostitution customer of a supposed prostitute with the purpose to conclude to a prostitution agreement with her' is also entitled 'solicitation' by some.

United States

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, solicitation is the name of a crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, an inchoate offense
Inchoate offense
An inchoate offense, inchoate offence, or inchoate crime is the crime of preparing for or seeking to commit another crime. The most common example of an inchoate offense is conspiracy...

 that consists of a person offering money or induce another to commit a crime with the specific intent that the person solicited commit the crime.

Differences in laws

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the term "solicitation" implies some part of commercial element, consideration
Consideration is the central concept in the common law of contracts and is required, in most cases, for a contract to be enforceable. Consideration is the price one pays for another's promise. It can take a number of forms: money, property, a promise, the doing of an act, or even refraining from...

, or payment.
In some other common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 countries, the situation is different:
  • where the substantive offense is not committed, the charges are drawn from incitement
    In English criminal law, incitement was an anticipatory common law offence and was the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a crime....

    , conspiracy, and attempt
    Attempt was originally an offence under the common law of England.Attempt crimes are crimes where the defendant's actions have the form of the actual enaction of the crime itself: the actions must go beyond mere preparation....

  • where the substantive offense is committed, the charges are drawn from conspiracy
    Conspiracy (crime)
    In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

    , counseling and procuring (see accessories
    Accessory (legal term)
    An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal...

    ), and the substantive offenses as joint principals (see common purpose
    Common purpose
    The doctrine of common purpose, common design or joint enterprise is a legal doctrine in some common law jurisdictions which imputes criminal liability on the participants to a criminal enterprise for all that results from that enterprise...


Differences from other crimes

Solicitation has in the U.S. these unique elements:
  1. the encouraging, bribing, requesting, or commanding a person
  2. to commit a substantive crime,
  3. with the intent that the person solicited actually commit the crime.

Unlike conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

, there is no overt step necessary for solicitation, one person can be a defendant, and it merges with the substantive crime.

It is not necessary that the person actually commit the crime, nor is it necessary that the person solicited be willing or able to commit the crime (such as if the "solicitee" were an undercover
Being undercover is disguising one's own identity or using an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn secret information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals in order to gain information or evidence...

 police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...


For example, if Alice commands Bob to assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 Charlie, and Alice intends for Bob to assault Charlie, then Alice is guilty of solicitation. However, if Alice commands Bob to assault Charlie without intending that an actual crime be committed (perhaps believing that Charlie has given consent
Consent refers to the provision of approval or agreement, particularly and especially after thoughtful consideration.- Types of consent :*Implied consent is a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person's actions and the facts and...

), then there is no solicitation.

An interesting twist on solicitation occurs when a third party that the solicitor did not intend to receive the incitement overhears the request to the original solicitee and unbeknownst to the solicitor, commits the target offense. In a minority of jurisdictions in the United States, this situation would still be considered solicitation even though the defendant never intended the person that committed the crime to have done so.

Solicitation is also subject to the doctrine of merger, which applies in situations where the person solicited actually commits the crime. In such a situation, both Alice and Bob could be charged with the crime as accomplices, which would preclude conviction under solicitation; a person cannot be punished for both solicitation and the crime solicited.

No Soliciting Signs

No Soliciting signs are intended to protect business from panhandlers or individuals attempting to sell products or services to that business' patrons on business property, thus taking potential revenue away from that business. These signs are very often ignored.

It is a common misconception that a simple "No Soliciting" sign is meant to keep individuals from attempting to speak with a business owner or principal about his products or services. While this may be accomplished using a more detailed sign specifically asking vendors not to promote themselves to employees or principals, most sales professionals are taught to bypass simple "no soliciting" signs and interpret them to mean "Do not solicit our patrons."

See also

  • Inchoate offence
  • Criminal law
    Criminal law
    Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

  • Murder for hire
  • Soliciting to murder
    Soliciting to murder
    Soliciting to murder is a statutory offence of incitement in England and Wales and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.-England and Wales:This offence is created by section 4 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 which reads:...

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