Sometimes called "the oldest profession," prostitution can take many forms, from streetwalkers and brothels, to sophisticated call-girl or escort services. Prostitution laws make it a crime to offer, agree to, or engage in a sexual act for compensation.
Prostitution is Illegal Nationwide, Except for Nevada
Prostitution is illegal in all states except certain parts of Nevada, where it is strictly regulated. Some state statutes punish the act of prostitution, and other state statutes criminalize the acts of soliciting prostitution, arranging for prostitution, and operating a house of prostitution. As for federal statutes, the Mann Act makes it a crime to transport a person in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution or for any other immoral purpose.
Depending upon applicable state law, the stages of a typical prostitution "transaction" can involve charges against the provider of services (for "prostitution"), the customer paying for the services (for "solicitation of prostitution"), and any middleman (for "pandering" or "pimping").
In most states offering sexual services or agreeing to provide those services in exchange for money is considered prostitution whether or not the services are provided. In most jurisdictions, the person offering sexual services is not the only one who can be charged with a crime.
Solicitation of Prostitution
The person who pays for the sexual services, sometimes called "Johns," can face charges of solicitation of prostitution. Solicitation of prostitution is a crime involving a person's agreement to exchange money for sex. The agreement does not have to be explicit. A person's actions can be enough to demonstrate agreement. The solicitation charge can be enhanced by solicitation of prostitution to a minor, which will often result in the misdemeanor charge becoming a felony.
The crime of solicitation of prostitution occurs at the moment you agree to pay for sex, and take some action to further that agreement. Solicitation is simply encouraging someone to commit a crime. It does not matter if the crime ends up being committed or not. An action to further an agreement can be most any act demonstrating a willingness to go through with the agreement, like withdrawing money from an ATM.
Get Professional Help From a Criminal Defense Lawyer
A conviction for prostitution or solicitation can carry penalties ranging from fines to prison time, but can also involve a social stigma that's hard to leave behind. It's important to realize that you're innocent until the government proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt. There are defenses available and an experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure that you put your strongest case forward or explore any plea bargain options available to you.