What Does the Law Say About Prostitution?

Posted by Jarrett P. AmbeauMar 09, 20210 Comments

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About Criminal Prostitution Law and What Acts Are Considered Prostitution

Prostitution is defined as the exchange of sexual activity for money. It is illegal in all of the U.S. except in 12 of Nevada's 16 counties. In 1971, the Storey County Commission officially sanctioned Joe Conforte's Mustang Ranch Brothel, which became the first legal brothel. However, the counties in Nevada still have rules surrounding how prostitution can legally be conducted. For instance, it must take place in a licensed house of prostitution and cannot take place in counties with populations of 700,000 or more.

In all other parts of the country, prostitution is illegal. Since the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, sex work has been on the rise. The English Collective of Prostitutes, a leading campaign group that supports the decriminalization of prostitution, has stated that hundreds of teaching assistants, waitresses, cleaners and beauticians have made inquiries about beginning sex work since the lockdown started last spring.

Online sex work is growing as well. During one week in May of 2020, the Society for the Anthropology of Work found a 22% increase in models' streaming hours on a popular webcamming site. Online streaming, in some cases, would be considered a legal form of sex work. As the term “sex work” broadens and more individuals, particularly young women, are participating, many people wonder where the line is drawn between legal sex work and illegal prostitution.

Some legal acts that society deems sex work are online streaming (if the model and audience are adults) and exotic dancing. Sex work crosses the line into illegal prostitution when physical sexual acts are performed in exchange for money or any other form of compensation. The law also prohibits soliciting sex for money and purchasing sexual services.

If these laws are violated, they also penalize those who have arranged the services or have benefitted financially from them. These acts are referred to as “pandering” or “pimping.” Pimping consists of receiving a prostitute's earnings, either directly or indirectly. It also refers to solicitation. “Pandering” involves procuring an individual to be used for prostitution purposes. This would include encouraging or forcing someone to participate in prostitution. Other prostitution-related illegal acts include:

  • Managing or owning a prostitution business
  • Leading an individual to a place for the purpose of prostitution
  • Allowing another individual to use a place under their control for prostitution
  • Owning or leasing a house for the purpose of prostitution

Prostitution and solicitation are illegal sex crimes that are usually charged as misdemeanor offenses in the category of a public order crime – a crime that disrupts the order of a community. It used to be considered a vagrancy crime, which was historically a type of crime that made it illegal for an individual to wander from place to place without visible means of support.

A typical punishment for prostitution in Louisiana depends on how many times an individual has been convicted and the specifics surrounding the conviction. It is important to note that there is a five-year cleansing period for prostitution in Louisiana. This means that any conviction that was charged more than five years before the new offense would not be considered in determining the punishment. The standard punishments for different types of prostitution convictions in Louisiana are as follows:

  • First conviction – The offender would be fined a maximum of $500, be imprisoned for a maximum of 6 months, or both.
  • Second conviction – The offender would be fined a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $2000 or be imprisoned with or without hard labor for a maximum of 2 years, or both.
  • Third and subsequent convictions – The offender would be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for a maximum of 4 years and would be fined a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $4000.
  • Prostitution with an individual under the age of 18 – The offender would be fined a maximum of $50,000, be imprisoned with hard labor for a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 50 years, or both.
  • Prostitution with an individual under the age of 14 – The offender would be fined a maximum of $75,000, be imprisoned at hard labor for a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 50 years, or both.

If you are facing prostitution-related charges, the team at The Ambeau Law Firm can provide the legal defense you need to produce the most favorable outcome for your case. Give us a call at (225) 330-7009 or contact us online to find out how we can help.

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