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What is Prostitution?
Although state prostitution laws vary, prostitution typically refers to the sale of sexual services. Sexual acts beyond traditional intercourse often fall under prostitution laws as well. Prostitution, however, excludes sexual activity between spouses. While payment does not have to be in dollars, monetary compensation is the most common. Prostitution is a misdemeanor in the United States except in ten counties in the State of Nevada.
Prostitution laws generally cover these three issues:
- Was there sexual contact? Sexual contact occurs when two people engage in sexual intercourse. Prostitution laws are gender neutral in some states, and cover both opposite sex and same sex prostitution. Sexual contact is usually expanded to include other means of touching.
- Did one of the parties patronize prostitution? A person patronizes (or "solicits") prostitution by giving something of value to another person as compensation for sexual conduct. A person also patronizes prostitution if that person agrees to give something of value to another person in return for sexual contact. Finally, a person can also patronize prostitution if that person requests sexual contact in return for something of value.
- The law typically only requires that something of value be exchanged or offered to be exchanged with someone else. It makes no difference whether the compensation went to the person patronized for sexual conduct or to a third party. Further, it makes no difference whether the person patronized for sexual conduct engages in sexual conduct with the paying party or if she engages in sexual conduct with a third person.
- An understanding that a person is making an exchange of money for sex is all that is required to patronize prostitution. There is no requirement that money change hands, or that any sexual act occur.
- Did that person offer something of value for the sexual contact? "Something of value" typically means monetary compensation, but can be anything of value, including other non-sexual services.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Am Arrested for Prostitution or Solicitation?
If you are accused of prostitution or solicitation, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.
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Last Modified: 11-10-2011 04:19 PM PST
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