Missouri Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

Many crimes related to prostitution are illegal in Missouri. Prostitution, whether it involves streetwalking, high-class escorts, or brothels full of trafficking victims, is prohibited. So is patronizing a prostitute, also known as solicitation. In Missouri, promoting prostitution, or pimping, and promoting sex tourism are illegal. Both are subject to higher penalties than the prostitute or customer generally face. Pimping or promotion charges are all felonies rather than the misdemeanors typical of prostitution charges.

Contrary to a harmful myth, it's both possible and illegal to rape a prostitute. Going beyond the agreed upon acts with a prostitute is still non-consensual sexual activity covered by the Missouri sexual offense laws . For more information, see the Missouri Rape and Sexual Assault article.

Penalties and Sentences

Generally, prostitution related charges are misdemeanors or felonies subject to the regular range for each class of offense in Missouri, as described in the table below. However, alternative penalties are available. In recognition of the co-occurrence of drug and alcohol dependency and prostitution, judges can order a person found guilty of prostitution to a drug and alcohol treatment program. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the court can change the plea or verdict to not guilty. Missouri law also permits individuals arrested for prostitution related crimes, if they have a prior prostitution related conviction, to be required to have an HIV test before bonding out of jail.

Missouri Prostitution and Solicitation Laws: Statutes

The following table highlights the main provisions of Missouri's prostitution related laws.

Code Sections

Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 567

What is Prohibited?

It’s a crime in Missouri to engage in any of the following prostitution related activities:

  • Prostitution - engaging, offering, or agreeing to sexual conduct (oral, vaginal, or anal sex or any sexual touching to arouse) with another person in exchange for money or another item of value
  • Patronizing a Prostitute - buying, agreeing to buy, or requesting sexual acts from a prostitute or his or her pimp, with penalties varying by age of the prostitute
  • Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree - compelling a person to enter, engage in, or remain in prostitution by use of force or drugs or withholding drugs from a drug dependent person, also promoting prostitution of a child less than 16 years old
  • Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree - knowingly managing, supervising, or owning a prostitution business or brothel involving prostitution activity by two or more individuals
  • Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree - knowingly aiding a person to engage in prostitution, soliciting prostitution patrons, providing people or places for prostitution, operating a prostitution business or brothel, receiving something of value for his or her participation in the prostitution activity, or any other conduct to aid in prostitution
  • Promoting Sex Tourism - Promoting, selling, or offering travel packages for engaging in commercial sex acts

Penalty Levels

Penalties vary depending on the defendant's conduct, the crime convicted of, and prior convictions:

  • Class B felony - performing an act of prostitution with the knowledge you’re HIV positive, promoting prostitution in the 1st degree
  • Class C felony - promoting prostitution in the 2nd degree, promoting sex tourism
  • Class D felony - patronizing a prostitute who's 14 or younger (also subject to statutory rape or sodomy laws), promoting prostitution in the 3rd degree
  • Class A misdemeanor - patronizing a prostitute who's 15-17 years old
  • Class B misdemeanor - performing an act of prostitution (except above), patronizing an adult prostitute

Penalties

Punishments for felonies and misdemeanors in Missouri vary by class. The penalty ranges by offense class are:

  • Class B felony - imprisonment for 5-15 years
  • Class C felony - imprisonment for 7 years or less and/or a fine up to $5,000 or up to double the amount the defendant gained from the crime up to $20,000
  • Class D felony - imprisonment for 4 years or less and/or a fine up to $5,000 or up to double the amount the defendant gained from the crime up to $20,000
  • Class A misdemeanor - jail for one year or less and up to a $1,000 fine
  • Class B misdemeanor - jail for up to 6 months and up to a $500 fine

Additional penalties for offering travel for prostitution purposes include revocation of the articles of incorporation of the travel agency or charter tour operator (that is, Missouri no longer recognizes its legal status to do business in the state) and freezing the company bank accounts.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- it's important to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Dealing with any criminal charge is often a trying experience. If you find yourself facing any prostitution related charges, you should contact an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney or public defender for assistance.

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