Nevada Prostitution and Brothel Laws
Prostitution is uncommon in the United States today, as only one state still allows prostitution with restrictions. Nevada is the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, although it can only take place in licensed brothels. It is legal in 10 of the 16 counties in Nevada, excluding Clark County and Washoe County, where Las Vegas and Reno are located. Actively, there are around 21 operating brothels throughout counties in Nevada.
What is Prostitution in Nevada?
The Nevada Law NRS 201.354 defines prostitution as engaging in any sexual conduct for a fee. Sexual conduct includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. Groping or touching of intimate parts of another person to arouse someone is considered prostitution, even if it is over clothing. Outside of licensed brothels and in counties where prostitution and solicitation is illegal, it is generally a misdemeanor charge. These crimes tend to carry greater charges, such as registering as a sex offender, if the individual is under 18. Solicitation of prostitution, where someone is offering or agreeing to prostitution, is a crime that is punished the same way as prostitution. Many common areas you see solicitation of prostitution are bars, lounges, clubs, massage parlors, and even on the street.
Legal and Illegal Prostitution Counties in Nevada
Nevada is a very unique state, where prostitution is legal in towns where the population is less than 700,000 residents. Licensed brothel prostitution is only legal in the following counties:
- Churchill County
- Elko County
- Esmeralda County
- Humbolt County
- Lander County
- Lyon County
- Mineral County
- Nye County
- Storey County
- White Pine County
All forms of prostitution, including brothels, are illegal in these following counties and our capital:
- Clark County
- Carson City
- Douglas County
- Eureka County
- Lincoln County
- Pershing County
- Washoe County
What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?
There are multiple penalties for prostitution, as prostitution can fall under different categories. If the defendant is the alleged prostitute, the offense would be a misdemeanor and the penalties would be fines up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail, which is uncommon. If the defendant is the alleged customer, the first offense would be a misdemeanor, with fines up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Other charges include an additional $400 fine and a civil penalty fine of $200. A second offense would be considered a gross misdemeanor with fines up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail. Additional charges include a fine of $800 and a civil penalty fine of $200. Receiving a third offense is also considered a gross misdemeanor, with the same charges as a second offense besides an additional fine of $1,300. It is possible for defendants to partake in community service instead of paying the $200 civil penalty fine. If the defendant is an alleged prostitute and they are aware they have HIV, it would be considered a category B Felony with 2 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison and/or $10,000 in fines. If the defendant is an alleged customer soliciting an individual under 18, the first offense would be considered a category E felony, which carries probation and a suspended sentence. A second offense would be a category D felony, with 1 to 4 years in Prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.
Can a Defendant Fight the Charges?
There are three common ways a defendant can fight the charges:
- An illegal practice where a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit a crime, such as solicitation of prostitution
- Illegal Police Search
- Police could overreach and obtain evidence illegally, outside of the Fourth Amendment
- Lack of Overtness
- Nevada law requires that solicitation be overt in order to be criminal
Nevada is very specific about its laws in regards to prostitution and brothels, as it is a way for prostitutes to make a living, but by being safe. If you have been charged with a prostitution-related crime, see a trusted lawyer to ensure your legal rights are protected. Prostitution crimes can change into a sex offender charge, which carries a social stigma that you definitely do not want to have. Our experienced attorneys at The Defenders will inform you about the laws of prostitution in Nevada.