Texas Prostitution Laws
Overview of Texas Prostitution Laws
In Texas, it is a crime to commit prostitution. Under Texas law, a person commits the crime of prostitution if they knowingly engage in or offer to engage in sexual contact for a fee or if they solicit another person in a public place for sexual conduct. The offense is established by either soliciting or receiving a fee.
It is also a crime to promote prostitution. Promoting prostitution includes receiving money or other proceeds from an agreement to participate in the proceeds from prostitution. For example, if Bob were to agree with Larry to split the fee from Sally's act of prostitution, that constitutes the crime of promotion of prostitution. Promotion of prostitution also occurs when one person solicits another to engage in sexual contact with a third party. For example, if Bob talked to Larry and got him to engage in sexual contact with Sally for a fee, that amounts to the promotion of prostitution as well. This crime may be elevated to "aggravated promotion of prostitution" if it involves knowingly owning, investing in, financing, controlling, supervising or managing a business for prostitution using two or more prostitutes.
It is also a crime in Texas to compel prostitution. Compelling prostitution is a crime where the defendant knowingly causes another person by force, threat or fraud to commit prostitution. It is also when the defendant causes a child under the age of 18 to commit prostitution, regardless of whether the defendant knew the age of the child or not.
Additionally, the solicitation of prostitution -- such as inquiring about a sex worker's rate -- is charged as prostitution under Texas prostitution laws.
Defenses to Prostitution Charges
- Entrapment (i.e. by an undercover police officer)
- Duress (i.e. the defendant was under threats of bodily harm if they did not commit the sexual contact for a fee)
- No money was received for the sexual contact
- Lack of knowledge
Penalties and Sentences
Committing the crime of prostitution (either as the prostitute or the one soliciting prostitution) is a "Class B" misdemeanor. This carries a sentence of not more than 180 days in jail and/or a fine of no more than $2,000. However, if the defendant has been convicted of prostitution one or two times before, the penalty may be elevated to a "Class A" misdemeanor. This carries a penalty of no more than one year in prison and/or a fine of no more than $4,000. If the defendant has been convicted of prostitution charges three or more times in the past, it will be a state jail felony. This is punishable by 180 days to two years in prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
For the crime of the promotion of prostitution, the offense is a "Class A" misdemeanor. If the defendant is convicted of aggravated promotion of prostitution, it is a third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
For the crime of compelling prostitution, the offense is second degree felony. This is punishable by two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
Texas Prostitution Laws: Statute
Texas Prostitution Statute (Penal Code, Title 9, Chapter 43, Section 43.02 - 43.06 -- Scroll down to the sections on prostitution.)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.