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Delaware Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

In Delaware, prostitution is the act of engaging in, agreeing to engage in, or offering to engage in sexual conduct with someone else in exchange for a fee. "Sexual conduct" is defined as any act designed to produce sexual gratification to either party.

Additionally, the solicitation of prostitution (the act of seeking sexual services for hire) is also illegal in Delaware. Therefore, both the prostitute and the prostitute's customer can be prosecuted. This article briefly outlines Delaware's prostitution and solicitation laws.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 1342: Prostitution

What's Prohibited?

Engaging in, agreeing to engage in, or offering to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.

Penalties

Prostitution is generally a class B misdemeanor. However, offenders convicted of prostitution occurring within 1,000 feet of a school, residence, or place of worship is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 1343: Patronizing a Prostitute Prohibited (aka Solicitation)

What's Prohibited?

  • Paying a fee (based on a prior agreement or understanding) to another person as compensation for that person's having engaged in sexual conduct with the person
  • Paying or agreeing to pay a fee to another person based on an agreement or understanding that in return that person (or a third person) will engage in sexual conduct with the buyer, or
  • Soliciting or requesting another person to engage in sexual conduct with the person in return for a fee

Penalties

Patronizing a prostitute is generally a misdemeanor offense. However, offenders convicted of patronizing a prostitute occurring within 1,000 feet of a school, residence, or place of worship is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Screening for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In Delaware, any person convicted of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute is required to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The results of the STD tests won't be available to the public, however, the results will be released to the defendant, the defendant's spouse, and the court that ordered the tests.

Promoting Prostitution

Under Delaware's prostitution laws it is also a crime to promote prostitution. The crime of promoting prostitution is broken down into three degrees, depending on the severity of the offense.

First-Degree Promoting Prostitution:

  • Knowingly advancing prostitution by compelling a person by force or intimidation to engage in prostitution or profiting from such coercive conduct by another, or
  • Advancing or profiting from the prostitution of a person who is less than 18 years old

Second-Degree Promoting Prostitution:

  • Knowingly advancing or profiting from prostitution by managing, supervising, controlling, or owning a prostitution business involving two or more prostitutes, or
  • Knowingly advancing or profiting from the prostitution of a person who is less than 18 years old

Third-Degree Promoting Prostitution: Knowingly advancing or profiting from prostitution.

Permitting Prostitution

It is also illegal in Delaware to permit prostitution. A person is guilty of permitting prostitution if they control or possess a premises that they know is being used for prostitution purposes and the person fails to stop that use within a reasonable period of time.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Delaware's prostitution and solicitation laws contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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