Everything you need to know if you’ve been accused of prostitution in the Lone Star state

Texas prostitution laws

As with all states in the country (except parts of Nevada), Texas law prohibits prostitution. The crime of prostitution may seem straightforward to the average person. Nevertheless, the state has established a complex statutory definition of what constitutes a prostitution-related offense.

If you’ve been charged with prostitution in Texas, it’s vitale you consult with an experienced defense lawyer near you as soon as possible to learn about your rights. If you live near Houston, it’s time to call Matt Sharp.

Prostitution laws in Texas

Texas state law defines prostitution as the act of knowingly engaging in or offering to engage in sexual contact in exchange for a fee. An individual may also be found guilty of prostitution if he or she solicits another person in a public place for sexual contact. The state may establish a prostitution-related offense by either providing solicitation or receipt of a fee.

Texas Penal Code § 43.02 defines prostiution as follows:

(a) A person commits an offense if, in return for receipt of a fee, the person knowingly:

    • Offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct; or
    • Solicits another in a public place to engage with the actor in a sexual conduct for hire.

(b) A person commits an offense if, based on the payment of a fee by the actor or another person on behalf of the actor, the person knowingly:

    • Offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct; or
    • Solicits another in a public place to engage with the actor in sexual conduct for hire.

An offense is established under Subsection (a) regardless of whether the actor is offered or actually receives the fee. An offense is established under Subsection (b) regardless of whether the actor or another person on behalf of the actor offers or actually pays the fee.

In addition to prohibiting solicitation and participation in prostitution, Texas law also prohibits the promotion of prostitution. Legally referred to as “pimping” and “pandering,” an individual may be charged with promotion if he or she receives money as a result of an agreement to participate in the proceeds from prostitution.

Pimping and pandering also occurs if someone solicits someone else to engage in a sexual act with a third party in exchange for compensation. An individual may be convicted on a prostitution offense if he or she inquires about the price to engage in sexual activity with a sex worker.

Texas Penal Code § 43.03 defines promotion of prostitution as follows:

(a)  A person commits an offense if, acting other than as a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution services, he or she knowingly:

(1)  receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution;  or

(2)  solicits another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.

Other prostitution-related offenses cited in Texas law include online promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, aggravated online promotion of prostitution and compelling prostitution.

Penalties for prostitution offenses in Texas

Adults who haven’t been convicted of a prior prostitution offense will generally be charged with a misdemeanor. Absent aggravating factors such as violent threats, force or minors, an adult who is convicted of a first-time prostitution offense typically faces misdemeanor sentencing under Texas law.

Prosecutors in Texas typically charge perpetrators of prostitution with no prior history with a Class B misdemeanor.

Class B misdemeanor offenses are eligible for up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

If the individual has 1 or 2 prior prostitution convictions, or if he or she is accused of pimping, the state typically charges them with a Class A misdemeanor.

Felony conviction for prostitution crimes in Texas

It is possible to be convicted of a felony for  prostitution, pimping or solicitation  in Texas. Perpetrators who have 3 or more prior convictions for prostitution or soliciting, or people who have a prior pimping offense, may be convicted of a state jail felony. This carries a sentence of 6 months to 2 years in state jail with the potential of a fine of up to $10,000.

Offenders who are charged with owning, financing, managing or controlling a prostitution enterprise that consists of 2 or more sex workers may be convicted of a third degree felony prostitution offense. If convicted, they may be sentenced to up to 10 years in state prison and fined up to $10,000.

Texas prostitution laws for crimes involving minors

If an individual forces another individual who is under 18 to participate in prostitution, Texas law describes the crimes as compelling prostitution. The accused may be convicted on a compelling prostitution charge without regard to whether he or she was aware of the other party’s minor age.

Soliciting, pimping or compelling a child under 18 to participate in prostitution may result in a second degree felony conviction. If convicted, defendants may be sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison and be fined up to $10,000.

Perpetrators who are charged with owning, financing, managing or controlling a prostitution enterprise that consists of 2 or more sex workers may be charged with a first degree felony if at least 1 of the sex workers is under 18. If convicted, they may receive a sentence ranging from 5 years to life in state prison and/or ordered to pay a fine up to $10,000.

Possible defenses against a Texas prostitution charge

A Texas defense attorney may have several potential defenses to use on behalf of an accused client. Common defense strategies include:

  • Entrapment
  • Intoxication
  • Duress
  • Lack of knowledge
  • No money was exchanged

If you are accused of a prostitution offense in Texas, you should consult a knowledgeable sex crimes lawyer. You want someone who understands the law inside and out, and who is willing to fight for your rights.

Contact the Law Offices of Matthew D. Sharp to receive your free case evaluation.

Contact Matthew Sharp