Las Vegas Hookers: Are They Legal or Not?

A man standing in front of a woman in high heels beside a car

As everyone says prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. In Las Vegas, this seems to be the case.

In Nevada, legal prostitution is legal, and as the only state in the union with legal prostitution, you can guess that the laws that govern legal prostitution can be confusing at best.

When we think of hookers or prostitutes each person may have their own connotation of what one might consider a hooker or prostitute.

Many think of the scantily dressed lady walking the dark seedy streets in a large city. Maybe you think of the truck stop girls that work at the large truck rest stops off the interstate.

There is the call-in hotel prostitute or the girl that works as a stripper and is selling sex on the side. Hookers can be men as well, hot dancer types that cater to older wealthy women known as gigolos. Gay men who focus on other men in the gay community.

There are all varieties of hookers to choose from and the industry seems like there is no chance of slowing down. But knowing the law if this is the profession you choose is important because it can keep you from getting into trouble.

The History of Prostitution in Nevada

As I said earlier, it is considered the world’s oldest profession.

In Nevada however, prostitutes or hookers, call girls whatever the nickname have been around in Nevada since the early days in the 19th century. In other parts of the union, the sale of sex was not widely banned until the 20th century but vagrancy or “streetwalking “ was banned so prostitution was limited to the inside of brothels.

After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery began efforts to fight legal prostitution in many states. From 1911 to 1915 there were several laws passed against people who made money off of women and girls who were made to prostitute.

Nevada however was the lone holdout, and brothels were tolerated if not just allowed to operate.It wasn’t until Storey County gave its first license to The Mustang Ranch in 1971 that the first legal brothel was operating.

In Nevada, it is illegal to solicit or prostitute unless it takes place in a licensed legal brothel. So streetwalking, call-in services, or any other form is not legal.

Also, it is only legal in certain counties and only legal in counties with less than 700,000 residents. Only 10 counties in Nevada have legal brothels and in that there are only 20 brothels total open in Nevada. In Clark county, there are approximately 2 million people; therefore, prostitution of any kind is against the law.

The Different Forms of Prostitution in Nevada

Prostitution comes in many forms.Here are a few examples of the most common forms of prostitution:

  1. Pandering– enticing or persuading another adult to engage in prostitution. This is a class C felony in Nevada and can carry 1 to 5 years in prison even if no money changes hands. This includes pimps
  2. Solicitation – offering or agreeing to trade sexual favors for money or other things of value. Solicitation is a misdemeanor for both prostitutes and customers and carries penalties of up to six months in jail and or up to a $1000 fine.
  3. Prostitution– the act of prostitution is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and or a $400 fine.

With each subsequent arrest, the penalties and fines increase.

If any of these crimes are committed against a minor under the age of 18 then all of these crimes become a felony and can include prison time and registering as a sex offender.

All forms of prostitution can be done either in person, over the internet such as Backpage or Craigslist, or even over the phone.

Sexual favors can be anything from sexual intercourse to groping and fondling.

Getting the Charges Dismissed

Since prostitution is considered a misdemeanor for the first offense.

Some prosecutors will offer a diversion program instead of charging and taking you to court since the court system is already backlogged.

In Clark county, most prostitution arrests are released on their own recognizance for the first time with a ticket to appear in court.

An example of the criteria for the diversion program is:

  • A $250 fine or 25 hours of community service
  • “John School” or AIDS awareness class
  • Not being arrested again while your current case is pending

If the prosecutor doesn’t offer the diversion program, then a good defense team may be able to get the charges reduced to trespass or disorderly conduct.

These are low-level offenses that a potential employer might not find in a background check and can later be expunged.

How to Fight the Charges of Prostitution or Solicitation

There are a few common defenses against prostitution that are the most commonly used by defense attorneys:

  1. Entrapment-This is a common but illegal police procedure and there is a very fine line between entrapment and legal undercover work. But entrapment is when the police trick you into committing a crime that you are not predisposed to. If would not have otherwise committed prostitution but for the police meddling then you have been entrapped.
  2. Illegal Police Search-Police may legally conduct search and seizure with the proper warrant or probable cause when someone is in danger. Other than that any evidence that is obtained without the proper warrant is considered illegal. Any evidence obtained this way can be suppressed by the judge or thrown out. If the evidence is not admissible, then in some cases the charges could be dismissed or dropped.
  3. Lack of Overtness-Prostitution or solicitation must be overt to be a crime in Nevada. The most common overt example of solicitation is a verbal agreement to trade a specific amount of money for certain sexual conduct. A defense team may argue that what was said between the parties was too ambiguous to qualify as a verbal transaction. In some cases, the evidence in these cases can include video and witness statements.

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Are Escorts Legal in Las Vegas

Unlike prostitution, escorting is legal in Las Vegas with very specific laws and rules.

  1. The escorts work for an escort company that has a valid business license in Las Vegas
  2. The escorts themselves possess a valid and current work permit
  3. The services offered are limited to social engagements
  4. There is no advertising for sexual conduct.

In most cases, escort services are often used as a platform for prostitution. The Las Vegas Metro is known to routinely conduct undercover sting operations to catch escorts offering or agreeing to terms for money for sexual conduct.

Related offenses

Additional charges are usually associated with prostitution depending on the circumstances of the arrest and the defendant’s previous arrest record. Other charges could include:

  1. Open and gross lewdness-when a prostitute and a John (customer) have sex in a public place
  2. Battery-many times transactions between a John and prostitutes can turn violent. Battery can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on if the victim sustains substantial bodily harm
  3. Sexual assault -Even though the prostitute is offering sexual services for money, rape is a common occurrence. Sexual assault defendants can face up to life in prison and will have to register as a sex offenders if they ever are released
  4. Trick-rolling-This is when a prostitute steals valuable from the John. This is charged as a robbery if force or threats were used. Most prostitutes think Johns won’t report the crime since they are already committing a crime by being with a prostitute or maybe they are married and don’t want their wives to find out. This crime is very underreported.
  5. Pandering-Enticing or forcing another adult to commit prostitution. This is considered a felony.
  6. Sex trafficking-Sex trafficking either an adult or a minor is a felony and can carry a life in prison term.

All these charges can be very serious and carry severe prison sentences and fines.

Though prostitution is a victimless crime and there are a lot of options on whether or not to legalize it more or to make it illegal altogether, no matter what side you’re on you can see it is not a victimless crime.

If you have been charged with prostitution or any related crime, you’ll need a good defense team in your corner.

Call The Defenders today for a case review.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the penalty for prostitution in Nevada?

In Nevada, the penalties for prostitution can range from a misdemeanor to a felony and may include time in jail or prison, fines, counseling and community service.

Is escorting legal in Las Vegas?

Yes, escorting is legal in Las Vegas so long as the escort company has a valid business license and the individual possess a valid work permit. The services offered are limited to social engagements only and there can be no advertising for sexual conduct.

Can I be charged with additional offenses related to prostitution?

Yes, depending on the circumstances of your arrest you may face additional charges such as open and gross lewdness, battery, sexual assault, trick-rolling or pandering.

What should I do if I have been charged with prostitution?

If you have been charged with prostitution it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can review your case and help build the best defense strategies available for your situation. They will also be able to explain your rights and the possible outcomes of your case. A good defense team may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

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