Prostitution Laws in Texas

Prostitution Laws in Texas: Classification & Penalties

Prostitution is illegal in Texas—but what does that exactly mean? Below, we break down the various laws, convictions, and penalties associated with prostitution according to the Texas Penal Code.

Is Prostitution Legal in Texas?

All forms of prostitution are illegal in Texas. Parties who participate in the offense will face charges and consequences—but before we get into that, let’s take a look at what a prostitution offense is defined as in the Texas Penal Code.

The Texas Penal Code states that “a person commits an offense if the person knowingly offers or agrees to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct.”

However, that is not the only prostitution offense stated in the Texas Penal Code. Solicitation of prostitution and promotion of prostitution are also criminal offenses.

An Example of Prostitution in Texas

In Texas, displaying behavior that demonstrates the intent of committing a prostitution offense is enough reason for a law enforcement officer to arrest you, even if you have not engaged in any sexual conduct.

Let’s look at the example of a man (Bob) picking up a woman (Linda) in his car. He asks her to go on a date, and she accepts. Without verbally mentioning any sexual conduct, he asks her how much her services cost. She asks for $200, and they drive to a hotel. At this point, they have both committed an offense, even though the transaction has not been completed.

In the above example, even though no sexual contact had taken place, the couple’s behavior can still be presented against them in court.

In Linda’s case, it is illegal to offer or engage in sexual conduct in return for a fee, therefore she would be committing a prostitution offense.

By agreeing or offering to pay a prostitute in exchange for sexual conduct, Bob will face charges for soliciting prostitution. Even if the event hasn’t taken place, the following actions could be used against him in court:

  • Picking up a prostitute
  • Offering cash in return for sexual conduct
  • Withdrawing cash

In addition, the promotion of prostitution—also known as pimping or pandering—is a crime in Texas. This is defined as both receiving money derived from a prostitute’s earnings, or when a person solicits a prostitute to engage in sexual conduct with a third party.

Promotion of prostitution also includes knowingly encouraging or inducing a person into—or to continue with—prostitution.

Compelling Prostitution in Texas

Knowingly causing another person “…by force, threat, coercion, or fraud to commit prostitution,” or causing—by any means—a “child younger than 18 years to commit prostitution”, regardless of whether the actor knew the child’s true age at the time of the offense, is considered under Texas law as Compelling Prostitution.

Compelling prostitution is considered a serious crime, and those charged face a felony of the first degree.

Penalties for a first-degree felony include:

  • Between 5 years and life in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Classification of Prostitution in Texas

Generally, those convicted of prostitution are guilty of committing a Class B misdemeanor.

Penalties include:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,000

If the actor has previously been convicted of prostitution one or two times, then the offense is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor.

Penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000

If the actor has previously been convicted of prostitution three or more times, then the charge would be elevated into a state jail felony. 

Penalties for State jail felonies include:

  • A prison sentence between 180 days and 2 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Solicitation of Prostitution in Texas

Soliciting prostitution is the act of knowingly offering or agreeing to pay a fee to another person in return for engaging in sexual conduct.

Soliciting prostitution is generally categorized as a state jail felony. However, if the perpetrator has previous solicitation of prostitution convictions, then the charge is elevated to a felony of the third degree.

Penalties for a third-degree felony include:

  • A prison sentence between 2 years and 10 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Regardless of previous convictions, if the person who the actor agrees to engage in sexual conduct is under the age of 18 years, represented to the actor as being under 18 years, or believed by the actor to be younger than 18 years, then charges are elevated to a second-degree felony.

Penalties for a second-degree felony include:

  • A jail sentence between 2 years and 20 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Solicitation of Prostitution in a Public Place

If it is proven in court that the offense took place in a public space, then the punishment for the conviction is increased to the next highest category of offense.

Public places as defined in the Texas Penal Code include:

  • On the premises of or within 1,000 feet of a school
  • On premises or within 1,000 feet from a premises where an official school function was taking place

Promotion and Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution in Texas

Pimping, and soliciting a prostitute for a third party are considered third-degree felonies in Texas. 

If the actor has previous convictions for the promotion of prostitution, then the charge is elevated to a felony of the second degree.

If the offense involved a person younger than 18 years, regardless of whether or not the actor was aware of the age of the target at the time, the charge is elevated to a first-degree felony.

This charge can be aggravated into a felony of the first degree if the perpetrator owns, manages, controls, invests in, or finances an enterprise that uses two or more prostitutes.

Protection of Children from Prostitution in Texas

There are laws in place in Texas to protect children from being exploited, coerced, or used for prostitution.

In all cases of solicitation of prostitution, compelling prostitution, and promotion of prostitution, if there is a child under the age of 18 involved, then the charge and penalties become much more severe.

In the case of solicitation of prostitution, even for a first-time offense, the charge elevates from a state jail felony into a felony of the second degree.

Trafficking a child under the age of 18 for the purpose of compelling them into prostitution results in severe punishments, including up to life in jail.

Under section 43.25 of the Texas Penal Code, offenses against a child under the age of 14 results in a felony of the first degree.

FAQs About Prostitution in Texas

In 2021, Texas became the first American state to make the solicitation of a prostitute a felony. Convictions often come with harsh punishments and penalties. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about prostitution in Texas. 

Is Soliciting a Prostitute a Felony in Texas?

It is illegal to buy sex in Texas. If you offer money or goods in exchange for sexual conduct, you will be committing a state jail felony. Furthermore, even if you’re caught before the act, if there is evidence of intent, you will still face arrest and charges.

Is Escorting Illegal in Texas?

An escort is usually hired for companionship and social company. They do not usually offer sexual favors to their clients. If they were to offer or engage in sexual conduct in exchange for compensation, then they are committing a crime. 

What States Have Legal Prostitution?

Nevada is the only U.S. jurisdiction where prostitution is legal. Even in Nevada, there are restrictions. Nevada’s statutes state that prostitution is only legal in licensed Nevada brothels. Outside of these licensed establishments, any type of prostitution or solicitation of prostitution is considered a crime.

Have you or someone you care about been charged for prostitution or solicitation in Texas? Get in touch with an experienced defense lawyer today. 

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