It is illegal in almost all jurisdictions throughout the United States to engage in prostitution. The only exception is Nevada, where it is legalized in specific counties. Even in these areas, however, it is subject to strict regulations.

Prostitution is the act of exchanging money for sexual acts. Specific laws and penalties will vary from state to state, but in general, even the act or attempt of offering money for sexual acts, or sexual acts for money, can result in an arrest and prostitution charges being filed. A person offering money for sexual acts, a person offering sexual acts for money, or a person acting as a middle man (pimping /pandering) may be charged with a crime, depending upon the state and county in which the offense occurred.

Most of the time, a first prostitution offense will be charged as a misdemeanor. This means that a defendant may face time in county jail, though this may be limited and may be waived in some cases. Multiple offenders or those accused of more serious versions of this crime, such as child prostitution, prostitution involving human trafficking or operating a prostitution business, may face felony charges. Penalties will be more serious, including the possibility of a state prison sentence and heavy fines.

Felony Prostitution Laws

Some states enforce felony prostitution laws, which require any person who is arrested for prostitution to receive a mandatory HIV test. If the test comes back positive, any future arrest for prostitution may result in felony charges and severe sentences, with maximum penalties of up to 10 to 15 years in prison.

Whether you are seeking legal counsel in the face of misdemeanor or felony prostitution charges, it is important to understand your legal rights. Click here to find a criminal defense attorney in your area.