September 21, 2023


Association Of Law

Penalties for Prostitution

2 min read

In the United States, prostitution is illegal in every state except for Nevada, meaning that buying and selling sex comes with strict penalties. In addition, those caught acting as pimps or heads of brothels may be punished more harshly than others, commonly cited for felony-level charges on an initial offense. For many states, each offense tied to prostitution leads to greater penalties, eventually upgrading a misdemeanor into a felony.

The law illustrates a clear series of penalties directed at sex workers. Although state laws may make different rules regarding what is and is not exactly considered prostitution or illegal sexual conduct, the penalties are similar across the nation. Some states may increase these penalties, but each state provides a possible jail sentence as well as a fine. The result means that sentences may contain a brief prison term and / or a weighty fine.

These sentences grow in many states with each subsequent offense. Prostitutes and customers are generally treated equally under the law, meaning that both buyer and seller may face similar sentencing, depending on the circumstances of the crime. For many states, this means anywhere between a few months to two years in prison for a first offense. Fines may range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Unlike prostitutes or customers, those who manage the business aspect of prostitution are often considered to be coupled with organized crime, and may be given less leniency in court due to the willful and premeditated illegal sale of sex on multiple accounts. As a response to fighting the criminal organization of sex trading, felonies are regular, meaning that jail sentences tend to be more common.

For more information regarding the application of penalties for sex workers, contact a criminal attorney.

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