Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors| Last updated March 23, 2018
All aspects of prostitution are illegal in Maryland. This includes buying (traditionally called solicitation, but called “assignation” in Maryland), selling (prostituting oneself), and pimping (also known as pandering, but now called "human trafficking" in Maryland). Maryland’s switch to human trafficking as a crime under the prostitution laws adequately addresses the coercive nature of how young women and girls are actively recruited and coerced into prostitution. In general, Maryland more harshly punishes those who involve minors in prostitution, whether through solicitation or abducting for prostitution.
Maryland Prostitution and Solicitation Statutes
The following table outlines Maryland’s prostitution and solicitation laws.
Maryland prohibits all of the following prostitution, solicitation, and pimping related crimes:
Human Trafficking – any of the following:
Taking or placing a person into a place of prostitution
Persuading a person to be taken to a place of prostitution
Receiving something of value to procure people for a place of prostitution
Engaging in a scheme to cause a person to believe if they don’t participate in sexually elicit performances he or she will be restrained or seriously physically harmed
Destroying or confiscating passports or government identification of another for a prostitution related crime
Parents or guardians consenting to the taking of their child for prostitution
Taking or detaining with the use of force, threats, coercion, or fraud to compel the person to marry you or a third person or to perform a sexual act, contact, or intercourse
Knowingly benefiting financially or by receiving anything of value for human trafficking results in the same penalties as if the person committed the acts
Knowingly aiding or conspiring with one or more person to do human trafficking is subject to the same penalties as if the conspirator committed the acts
House of Prostitution – any of the following:
Knowingly engaging in prostitution (performing sexual acts, sexual contact, or intercourse for hire)
“Assignation” (making an appointment for prostitution or any act furthering the prostitution engagement)
Operating a business or home for prostitution
Allowing a building owned by a person to be used for prostitution
Allowing a person into a building for prostitution purposes
Soliciting for prostitution or assignation (hiring a prostitute)
Receiving the Earnings of a Prostitute – Receiving money or other earnings from a prostitute with the intent to promote or profit from a prostitution crime or concealing the source or control of the money from a prostitution related crime
Abducting a Child Under 16 for Prostitution – Persuading a child under 16 from the child’s home or knowingly harboring the child who’s been enticed into prostitution
Sale of a Minor – Selling or trading a minor for money, property, or anything of value
Penalties in Maryland are typically described in the statute describing the offense. The penalties for the crimes above include:
House of Prostitution, prostitution, assignation (solicitation), or operating or renting to a brothel is a misdemeanor subject to up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $500.
Sale of a minor is a misdemeanor with a punishment maximum of 5 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $10,000 for each violation.
Receiving the earnings of a prostitute is a misdemeanor that can receive up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Abducting a child under 16 for prostitution can be punished by a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine not more than $5,000.
Most human trafficking charges are misdemeanors subject to up to 10 years in prison or a fine up to $5,000. However, for victims who are minors or for forcing, threatening, coercing individuals to marry or perform sexual acts, the charge is a felony with a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
Note: Felonies and misdemeanors with terms of imprisonment can usually be prosecuted at any time, meaning crimes you committed years ago can come back to haunt you.
Additionally, conviction of some of these offenses will require you to register as a sex offender. Tier II (25 year registration period) offenses include: abduction of a child for prostitution, human trafficking, sexual solicitation of a minor, and house of prostitution. Tier III or lifetime registration can be required for the sale of a minor.
Typically, any defense such as innocence, lack of intent, lack of knowledge, or lack of any necessary element to a crime above could be a useful strategy in a prostitution-related case.
However, sometimes the statutes alter possible defenses. For example, the human trafficking statute explicitly states not knowing the age of the victim is not a defense. Much like how consent or not knowing the child’s true age often isn’t a defense to statutory rape.
Note: State laws change frequently, so be sure to conduct your own legal research or consult a Maryland criminal law attorney to verify the accuracy of this information.
Charged Under Maryland Prostitution and Solicitation Laws? Get Legal Help
Being charged with a criminal offense such as prostitution or solicitation can have a major impact on your life and criminal record. But did you know that there may be defenses available to you depending on the facts of your case? Want to learn more? Then you should contact a skilled sex crime lawyer in Maryland today to discuss your situation.