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Washington Prostitution Laws

Engaging in prostitution is illegal in the U.S. except for some areas of Nevada. An individual can be charged with prostitution if they offer to provide sexual services in exchange for compensation, while the person who pays for the services can be charged with "patronizing prostitution" or "solicitation." Every aspect of the transaction is unlawful in Washington and the charges can extend beyond just the buyer and seller. Washington also prohibits advancing or promoting prostitution and offering or selling travel services with knowledge that the services are used to patronize prostitution.

Promoting Prostitution

Selling travel services to facilitate acts that constitute patronizing a prostitute within the state is a class C felony. This is one specific form of promoting prostitution that involves travel services, but Washington also criminalizes the more general offense of promoting prostitution.

In first degree promoting prostitution, a person knowingly advances prostitution by:

  • Threatening or forcing another to engage in prostitution or profits from prostitution which results from such threat or force; or
  • Compelling a person with a mental incapacity or developmental disability that renders them incapable of consenting to engage in prostitution or profits from prostitution.

Second degree prostitution occurs if a person knowingly:

  • Profits from prostitution; or
  • Advances prostitution.

Washington Prostitution Laws at a Glance

Reading the entire text of the statute is essential when you need to know every detail of the law. However, a lot of important information can be accessed by reading a condensed version of the text written in plain language. The chart below provides a concise summary of Washington's prostitution laws.


Washington Revised Code:


Possible Penalties


The actual penalties will depend on the specific facts of the case and are determined by the Sentencing Reform Act and state guidelines. Prostitution and patronizing prostitution are misdemeanors.

Promoting Prostitution:

  • Promoting travel services for prostitution: Incarceration for up to 5 years and/or fines up to $10,000.
  • First degree: Incarceration for up to 10 years and/or fines up to $20,000.
  • Second degree: Incarceration for up to 5 years and/or fines up to $10,000.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • Entrapment

Note: The biological sex of the buyer or seller isn't a valid defense.

Related Offenses

Washington Revised Code:

  • Section 9A:88.090 (permitting prostitution)
  • Section 9.68A.101 (promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Prostitution Laws: Related Resources

Contact a Washington Attorney About Prostitution Charges

If you've been accused of breaking any prostitution laws in Washington, then you'll want to have an experienced legal professional at your side. Even if you're facing minor charges, a conviction can be embarrassing and can hurt your future employment options, especially if it relates to sex crimes. Contact a sex crime attorney today to talk about your case and how to put your strongest defense forward.

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