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Sex Crimes: Prostitution

Prostitution is considered a crime against public decency in Texas and there are many laws criminalizing it and related acts. The penalties for involvement in prostitution are significant, particularly for repeat offenders.

Legal Definition

Under Texas law, there are two ways in which prostitution occurs:

  1. A person offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct for a fee; or
  2. A person solicits another in a public place to engage with the person in sexual conduct for hire.

It is important to note that the offense of prostitution is committed by the person paying or receiving the fee. Prostitution is considered a class B misdemeanor. However, the offense may be enhanced under the following circumstances:

  1. If the actor has been convicted one or two other times for prostitution, the offense is a class A misdemeanor;
  2. If the actor has been convicted three or more times, the offense is a state jail felony; or
  3. If the person solicited is under 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor was aware of the person’s age, the offense is a second degree felony.

Promotion of Prostitution

A related offense that is considered very serious in Texas is the promotion of prostitution. This occurs if a person knowingly:

  1. Receives money or property for participation in the proceeds of prostitution; or
  2. Solicits a person to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.

This is commonly called a Pimp.

In order to convict a person of this offense, the person must not be the prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution services. This offense is a class A misdemeanor, but also contains certain enhancements. A person previously convicted of promotion faces a state jail felony. If a person under 18 years of age is involved, promotion becomes a second-degree felony.

Aggravated promotion of prostitution occurs when a person knowingly owns, invests in, finances, controls, supervises, or manages a prostitution enterprise that uses at least two prostitutes. This offense is a third degree felony, unless one of the prostitutes is younger than 18 years of age, at which point it becomes a first-degree felony. The offender does not need to be aware that the person is under the age of 18.

Compelling Prostitution

This offense is very serious because it involves an individual not freely choosing to engage in prostitution. Compelling prostitution occurs if a person knowingly causes a person by force, threat, or fraud to commit prostitution. This is a second-degree felony. It is also committed if a person knowingly causes by any means a person under the age of 18 to commit prostitution, regardless if the person had knowledge of the person’s age. This offense is a first degree felony.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Being charged with a prostitution-related crime can be extraordinarily damaging, even if you are eventually deemed innocent. Houston Police Department is infamous for pulling stings to catch both the prostitutes and the johns. They can be very sneaky! If you have been charged with any of these offenses, you need the assistance of experienced legal counsel. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we can help you defend yourself against these serious charges. Contact us today with any questions you may have.