Arizona Prostitution Laws

Arizona has a series of detailed laws that prohibit buying or selling sex, or otherwise profiting from prostitution. The act of prostitution is defined as engaging in, offering to or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement with any person for money or anything else of value.

The 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"). The penalties for prostitution and solicitation is progressive, meaning the more guilty convictions you have for the offense the more sever the penalties become. So you may receive a fine for a first offense, but the third offense carries a mandatory 60-day jail sentence.

Understanding Prostitution/Solicitation Charges in Arizona

Arizona law strictly forbids prostitution. Sexual contact doesn’t need to occur for a conviction of criminal prostitution or solicitation. To be found guilty, the state must prove three elements:

  • That there was an offer of money or something of value
  • The exchange was for engaging in a sexual act, which means there must be intent that the sex act should be performed, and
  • There must be a substantial act in furtherance of the offer.

Overview of Arizona Prostitution Laws

The following chart provides a general overview of the elements, defenses, and penalties relating to the Arizona prostitution law. Arizona criminalizes the separate offenses of patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, sex trafficking, and running a brothel. The City of Phoenix has a very inclusive law that criminalizes solicitation and prostitution.

Arizona Statutes

Statutory Definition

  • “Prostitution” means engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement with any person for money or any other valuable consideration.
  • “House of prostitution” means any building, structure or place that is used for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness or where acts of prostitution occur.

Penalties and Sentences

Prostitution is a class 1 misdemeanor, if:

  • First Offense: Serve a minimum of 15 consecutive days in jail and not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served.
  • Second Offense: Serve not less than 30 consecutive days in jail and not eligible for probation or suspension of sentence until the entire sentence is served.
  • Third Offense: Serve a minimum of 60 consecutive days in jail.

Prostitution is a class 5 felony, if:

  • Four or More Offenses: Subject to minimum of 180 consecutive days in jail or state prison, and not eligible for probation or suspension of sentence until the entire sentence is served.

Defenses

  • Victim of sex trafficking is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the defendant committed the acts constituting prostitution as a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking.
  • Mistake of Fact: Defendant asserts the mistaken belief prevents the establishing beyond a reasonable doubt the required intent for the offense.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment can exist when a defendant was coaxed into committing a crime by an officer. This type of defense is difficult to prove.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. It’s important to verify the laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Arizona criminal defense attorney.

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