What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?

In Texas, prostitution is a crime that involves the exchange of payment for sexual services. The law covers the act of engaging in sexual contact for payment as well as offering to engage in such acts in return for payment. Any such activity officially becomes a crime when payment is made or requested.

Related Charges

Under Texas law, it is possible to be charged with prostitution crimes if a person commits one or more of the following actions:

  • Promoting prostitution (also known as pimping)
  • Compelling or forcing another person to engage in prostitution
  • Soliciting prostitution
  • Offering sex for money in a public place

Depending on the severity of these offenses or the ages of the people involved, the punishments for prostitution crimes can vary considerably.

Prostitution Penalties in Houston

One of the most common prostitution offenses involves engaging in sex for money or attempting to pay for sexual favors. The penalties for this sex crime can include:

These penalties may be increased if the defendant has previously been convicted of prostitution offenses. A defendant with one or two previous prostitution convictions may face:

  • Conviction on a Class A misdemeanor charge
  • Incarceration in prison for up to one year
  • A fine of up to $4,000

A defendant with more than two previous prostitution convictions may be subject to even tougher penalties. A person who is convicted for a prostitution offense and who has three or more previous prostitution convictions may be punished by:

  • Conviction on a state jail felony charge
  • Incarceration in prison for 180 days or up to two years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Penalties for Other Prostitution Crimes

The legal consequences for prostitution crimes other than solicitation or engaging in sex for money may be more severe. For example, a person who promotes prostitution or arranges to receive money from prostitution proceeds may face:

  • Conviction on a Class A misdemeanor charge
  • Incarceration in prison for up to one year
  • A fine of up to $4,000

If a person owns, manages or invests in a business that promotes prostitution and which includes two or more prostitutes, the defendant may be found guilty of aggravated promotion of prostitution. This may lead to penalties including:

  • Conviction on a third degree felony charge
  • Incarceration in state prison for two to 10 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Compelling prostitution is one of the most serious prostitution offenses. A person who is found guilty of coercing, forcing or threatening someone else into engaging in prostitution may be punished with:

  • Conviction on a second degree felony charge
  • Incarceration for two to 20 years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Prostitution Offenses Involving Minors

The penalties for any of the crimes listed above can be significantly enhanced if they involve people under the age of 18. For example, soliciting a person who is at least 14 years old but younger than 18 can lead to:

  • Conviction on a third degree felony charge
  • Incarceration in prison for two to 10 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If a person solicits someone younger than 14 for prostitution purposes, the penalties can include:

  • Conviction on a second degree felony charge
  • Incarceration in prison for two to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Compelling someone under the age of 18 into prostitution can lead to:

  • Conviction on a first degree felony charge
  • Incarceration in prison for five years or up to a life sentence
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Prostitution Defenses

It may be possible to mount a legal defense against prostitution charges. Defense attorneys may focus on facts about the case to portray the defendant as a person who did not willingly hire a person for sex. Some possible facts about the case that may be used as part of a defense include:

  • Money was not actually exchange for the sexual activity
  • The defendant was too intoxicated to understand the activity
  • The defendant was forced to engage in sex for a fee
  • The defendant did not know that prostitution was taking place
  • The defendant was the victim of police entrapment

Sentence Severity

The involvement of a person in a prostitution offense may affect sentencing. For example, some courts may punish prostitutes less severely than the people who solicit them for paid sex. Pimps or those who promote or compel prostitution typically face the most severe punishments.

Preparing a legal defense against prostitution charges is possible. An attorney may be able to use evidence to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely. Extenuating circumstances about the case, such as intoxication or coercion, may play a critical part in a legal defense.

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About the Author

Law Office of James Alston. serves people who need legal assistance in their Criminal Defense Cases in Texas.

Houston Criminal Lawyer James Alston represents clients in the Houston area, including Pasadena, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Channelview, Conroe, Galveston, Angleton, Richmond, Rosenberg, Beaumont, Galveston County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Harris County and Jefferson County in Texas.