According to Texas law, people commit the crime of prostitution if they “knowingly engage in or offer to engage in sexual contact for a fee.” They also commit prostitution in Texas if they solicit someone else in a public place for any kind of sexual activity. But, in all cases, the offense is established by either soliciting or collecting a fee. It’s also a crime to promote prostitution (also known as “pimping” or “pandering”). This can include earning money or other proceeds from an agreement that involved the act of prostitution. If you agree to split the fee from someone who committed an act of prostitution, you would be guilty of this crime.
Specific Laws Regarding Prostitution in Texas
According to the Texas Penal Code, you commit an act of prostitution if you knowingly perform the following actions for a fee:
- You offer to engage, agree to engage, or engage in sexual conduct.
- You solicit someone else in a public place to engage with the actor in sexual conduct.
This offense is established regardless of whether the action is offered or you actually receive the fee. You also commit the act of pimping, pandering, or managing a prostitution enterprise if you act as someone other than a prostitute and receive compensation for prostitution services. This can include any of the following:
- You receive money of other property according to an agreement related to the act of prostitution.
- You solicit someone else to engage in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for compensation.
You also commit prostitution in Texas if you knowingly cause a child younger than 18 years of age to commit prostitution, regardless of whether you knew the age of the child at the time.
Classifications for the Crime of Prostitution in Texas
In the State of Texas, the crime of prostitution or solicitation is considered a class B misdemeanor if no aggravating factors are present. But, if you have had one or two prior convictions for prostitution in Texas, it would be considered a class A misdemeanor. The same is true for pimping if no other aggravating factors are present. If you own, finance, control, or manage a prostitution business with two or more prostitutes, the crime would be considered a third degree felony. But, if the person being solicited is younger than 18 (regardless of whether you knew the person’s age at the time), it would be considered a second degree felony. If you own, finance, control, or manage a prostitution business with two or more prostitutes (where at least one is under the age of 18), it would be considered first degree felony.
Sentences and Penalties for Prostitution in Texas
Here are the sentences and penalties for each of the classifications for prostitution in the State of Texas:
- Class B misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and fine of up to $2,000.
- Class A misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- State jail felony: 6 months to 2 years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000.
- Second degree felony: 2 to 20 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000.
- First degree felony: 5 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Be sure to speak to a qualified attorney for more information.
Possible Defenses for Prostitution in Texas
If you have been charged with prostitution in the State of Texas, you can use the following as possible defenses against a conviction:
- Entrapment (such as by an undercover police officer).
- Duress (such as under the threat of bodily harm if you didn’t participate).
- No money was received for the sexual contact.
- Lack of knowledge.
Any act of prostitution is illegal in the State of Texas. Even if you’re caught offering sexual services to someone else or offer to pay someone else for sex, you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. If you have been charged with prostitution, patronizing, or pimping, you should seek the help of a qualified attorney. Gale Law Group is a criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi that can help you with your case. We can also help you get the best possible outcome in the Texas Criminal Justice System. If you’re facing prostitution charges in the State of Texas, you should never go it alone. That’s why you should have an experienced attorney by your side.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi to help you with your case, be sure to get in touch with us.