Tennessee Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

Prostitution and patronizing a prostitute (sometimes called solicitation) are illegal in Tennessee. So is the third aspect of prostitution, pimping or "promoting prostitution" in Tennessee.

Much of Tennessee law is typical among the states, such as the low misdemeanor penalties associated with most prostitution charges, but a higher felony charge for pimping. However, Tennessee has a unique prostitution provision that increases the penalty of prostituting or patronizing a prostitute within 100 feet of a church or 1.5 miles of a school for K-12 children.

Tennessee Prostitution and Solicitation Laws: Statutes

The main provisions of Tennessee's prostitution and solicitation laws are in the table below.

Code Sections

Tennessee Code Sections 39-13-513: Prostitution, 39-13-514 Patronizing Prostitution, 39-13-515: Promoting Prostitution, and 39-13-516: Aggravated Prostitution

What is Prohibited?

Tennessee prohibits the following activities:

  • Prostitution - Engaging in, or offering, sexual activity as a business, working at a brothel or house of prostitution, or loitering in public places to be hired for sexual activity
    • Aggravated Prostitution - The penalty for prostitution while knowing you are infected with HIV is increased due to the perceived maliciousness of potentially spreading HIV to clients (also called an "aggravating circumstance").
  • Patronizing Prostitution - Soliciting or hiring another person to engage in sexual activity or going to a brothel or house of prostitution sexual activity
  • Promoting Prostitution - when a person does any of the following:
    • Owns, manages, or supervises a prostitution business
    • Finding a person to work at a brothel or house of prostitution
    • Encouraging a person to become a prostitute
    • Soliciting a person to patronize a prostitute
    • Finding a prostitute for a person
    • Soliciting or receiving any benefit for any of the above activities

Penalties

Penalties vary depending on where the prostitution or solicitation occurred and whether the prostitute knowingly had HIV.

  • Class C Felony - 3-15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000 (aggravated prostitution--while knowing HIV positive)
  • Class E Felony - 1-6 years in prison and a fine of not more than $3,000 (promoting prostitution)
  • Class A misdemeanor - not more than 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500 fine (prostitution or patronizing a prostitute within 100 feet of a church or 1.5 miles of a K-12 school)
    • For prostituting by a school, the minimum sentence is 7 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.
  • Class B misdemeanor - not more than 6 months in jail and a fine of not more than $500 (prostitution or patronizing a prostitute)

In order to determine if "aggravated prostitution" or prostitution while knowing you are HIV positive occurred, all defendants convicted of prostitution, patronizing prostitution, or promoting prostitution are ordered to have an HIV test. Test results are sealed by the court.

Civil Penalties

You can be evicted from a rental for using the premises to engage in prostitution or promoting of prostitution (pimping).

Defenses

Generally, the same defenses can apply to prostitution as many other crimes. First, there's innocence or lack of intent as in, such as despite the officer believing you were attempting to engage in sexual activity for money, really you were discussing politics and had no desire to sell or buy sex. Another possible defense is entrapment, for example, when an undercover cop pushes you into committing the crime of offering something of value for sex. For aggravated prostitution in Tennessee, a defense could be that you did not know you were HIV positive.

If you're charged with prostitution in Tennessee, it's a good idea to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney or public defender for assistance building a strong defense or negotiating a better plea bargain.

Note: State law change regularly -- it's important to verify the laws you’re researching.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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