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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.

There are two basic criminal acts associated with prostitution:

  1. Engaging in an act of prostitution: engaging in sexual intercourse with another person in exchange for money or other forms of payment.
  2. Soliciting Prostitution: Offering or soliciting money to another person in exchange of a sexual act.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining If Prostitution Occurred?

Te crime of prostitution occurs when a person agrees to pay for sex and does some action to further the agreement made. There are some factors that are considered when determining whether the crime of prostitution was committed.

Prostitution laws generally cover these three issues:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?

Prostitution, the promotion of prostitution, and the solicitation of prostitution are serious offenses. Prostitution is usually a misdemeanor in most states. The first offense for a prostitution charge can result in up to six months in county jail with a fine of up to $1,000.

The common penalties for a prostitution are:

  • convicted on a misdemeanor offense
  • community service
  • probation
  • fines of up to $1,000
  • Required to enroll in AIDS education classes

What Are the Legal Defenses for Prostitution?

If you are charged with soliciting prostitution, there are a number of legal defenses to dismiss the charge or reduce the charge to a lesser offense. The legal defenses include:

  • Entrapment: The police forced the defendant to agree to the crime when defendant never intended to engage in any illegal acts
  • The alleged prostitute was forced into prostitution
  • Lack of evidence: There are no real evidence to charge defendant
  • Mistake
  • Insufficient evidence

Do I Need a Lawyer?

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. Your attorney will be able to represent you in a court of law and can advise you on whether any defenses may be available to you, and may also be able to contend for a reduction in charges or sentencing.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-03-2016 03:11 PM PDT

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