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US Federal and State Prostitution Laws and Related Punishments


Presented below are federal and state laws on prostitution within the United States. Prostitution is illegal in the United States with the exception of 11 Nevada counties. On Nov. 3, 2009, Rhode Island closed a legal loophole that had allowed indoor prostitution to exist since 1980.

Laws involving human trafficking or child prostitution are not included. Clicking on the hyperlinked titles, states, and counties will bring up the full text of each law. The information was last updated Nov. 4, 2009. While reasonable efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the data provided, do not rely on this information without first checking an official edition of the applicable law.

Title Citation Excerpt Punishment
1. Inadmissible aliens Title 8 Ch. 12 Sub Ch. II Part II Sec. 1182 "Any alien who-- (i) is coming to the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in prostitution, or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status...is inadmissible." Denied admission into US
2. Importation of alien for immoral purpose Title 8 Ch. 12 Sub Ch. II Part VIII Sec. 1328 "The importation into the United States of any alien for the purpose of prostitution, or for any other immoral purpose, is forbidden." Up to 10 yrs and/or fine
3. Prostitution near military and naval establishments Title 18 Part I Ch. 67 Sec. 1384 "Within such reasonable distance of any military or naval camp, station, fort, post, yard, base, cantonment, training or mobilization place as the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Air Force, or any two or all of them shall determine to be needful to the efficiency, health, and welfare of the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, and shall designate and publish in general orders or bulletins, whoever engages in prostitution....prohibited shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." Up to 1 yr and/or fine
4. Interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises Title 18 Part I Ch. 95 Sec. 1952 "Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses the mail or any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, with intent to... otherwise promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on, of any unlawful activity...shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both." Up to 5 yrs and/or fine
5. Transportation generally Title 18 Part I Ch. 117 Sec. 2421 "Whoever knowingly transports any individual in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with intent that such individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both." Up to 10 yrs and/or fine
6. Coercion and enticement Title 18 Part I Ch. 117 Sec. 2422 "Whoever knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both." Up to 20 yrs and/or fine
7. Filing factual statement about alien individual Title 18 Part I Ch. 117 Sec. 2424 "Whoever... controls... house... for the purpose of prostitution knowing... that the individual is an alien, shall file with the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization a statement in writing setting forth the name of such individual, the place at which that individual is kept, and all facts as to the date of that individual's entry into the United States, the port through which that individual entered, that individual's age, nationality, and parentage, and concerning that individual's procuration to come to this country within the knowledge of such person; and [w]hoever fails within five business... to file such statement concerning such alien individual with the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization... [s]hall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both." Up to 10 yrs and/or fine
8. Character investigations Title 25 Ch. 34 Sec. 3207 "The minimum standards of character that are to be prescribed under this section shall ensure that none of the individuals appointed to positions described in subsection (a) of this section have been found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, any felonious offense, or any of two or more misdemeanor offenses, under Federal, State, or tribal law involving crimes of violence; sexual assault, molestation, exploitation, contact or prostitution; crimes against persons; or offenses committed against children." Denied employment
9. Registration determinations Title 29 Ch. 20 Sub Ch. I Sec. 1813 "In accordance with regulations, the Secretary may refuse to issue or renew, or may suspend or revoke, a certificate of registration (including a certificate of registration as an employee of a farm labor contractor) if the applicant or holder--...has been convicted within the preceding five years..., prostitution..." Denied a certificate of registration
 

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State Penalty for Prostitutes
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Customers
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Pimps
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Brothel Owners
(Crime Classification)
1. Alabama Up to 1 yr and/or $6,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $6,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
1-10 yrs and/or $15,000
(Class C felony)
1-10 yrs and/or $15,000
(Class C felony)
2. Alaska Up to 90 days and/or $2,000
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 90 days and/or $2,000
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $50,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $50,000
(Class C felony)
3. Arizona 1st offense 15 days, 2nd 30 days, 3rd 60 days, 4+ offenses 180 days-1.5 yrs
(First offense class 1 misdemeanor, 4 or more offenses are a class 5 felony)
Up to 30 days and/or $500
(Class 3 misdemeanor)
18 months and/or $150,000
(Class 5 felony)
18 months and/or $150,000
(Class 5 felony)
4. Arkansas Up to 90 days and/or $500, then up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(First offense class B misdemeanor, subsequent offense class A misdemeanor)
Up to 90 days and/or $500, then up tp 1 yr and/or $1,000
(First offense class B misdemeanor, subsequent offense class A misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
5. California Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
3-6 yrs in a state prison
(Felony)
3-6 yrs in a state prison
(Felony)
6. Colorado Up to 6 months and/or $50-$750
(Class 3 misdemeanor)
Up 6 months and/or $500, then 6-18 months and/or $500-$5,000
(First offense class 1 petty offense, 3+ offenses class 1 misdemeanor)
4-12 yrs and/or $3,000-$750,000
(Class 3 felony)
3 months-1 yr and/or $250-$1,000
(Class 2 misdemeanor)
7. Connecticut Up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
1-10 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
1-10 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
8. Delaware Up to 6 months and/or $1,150
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 30 days and a minimum mandatory fine of $500
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or a fine
(Class E felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or a fine
(Class E felony)
9. District of Columbia First offense 1-90 days and $500, 2nd 1-135 days and $750, 3+ 1-180 days and $1,000 First offense 1-90 days and $500, 2nd 1-135 days and $750, 3+ 1-180 days and $1,000 Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Felony)
10. Florida First offense 2nd degree misdemeanor, 2nd offense 1 misdemeanor, 3+ offenses 3 felony 2nd degree misdemeanor-3 felony
$500 fine
3rd degree felony First offense 2nd degree misdemeanor, subsequent offenses 1 misdemeanor
11. Georgia Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $5,000
(Misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature)
Up to 1 yr and/or $5,000
(Misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature)
12. Hawaii 30 days and/or $500
(Petty misdemeanor)
30 days and/or $500
(Petty misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
13. Idaho 1-6 months and/or $500, then 1-5 yrs
(First offense misdemeanor, 3+ offenses are a felony)
1-6 months and/or $500, then 1-5 yrs
(First offense misdemeanor, 3+ offenses are a felony
2-20 yrs and/or a fine of $1,000-$50,000
(Felony)
2-20 yrs and/or a fine of $1,000-$50,000
(Felony)
14. Illinois Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-3 yrs and/or $25,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, subsequent convictions are a 4 felony)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-3 yrs and/or $25,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, subsequent convictions are a 4 felony)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-3 yrs and/or $25,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, subsequent convictions are a 4 felony)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-3 yrs and/or $25,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, subsequent convictions are a 4 felony)
15. Indiana Up to 1 yr and/or $5,000, then 6 months-3 yrs and/or $10,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, 3+ convictions are a D felony)
Up to 1 yr and/or $5,000, then 6 months-3 yrs and/or $10,000
(First offense class A misdemeanor, 3+ convictions are a D felony)
2-8 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
2-8 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class C felony)
16. Iowa Up to 2 yrs and/or $500-$5,000
(Aggravated misdemeanor)
Up to 2 yrs and/or $500-$5,000
(Aggravated misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $750-$7,500
(Class D felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $750-$7,500
(Class D felony)
17. Kansas Up to 6 months and/or $1,000
(Class B nonperson misdemeanor)
Up to 1 month and/or $500
(Class C misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-5 yr and/or $100,000
(First offense class A person misdemeanor then subsequent convictions are severity level 7)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500 then 1-5 yr and/or $100,000
(First offense class A person misdemeanor then subsequent convictions are severity level 7)
18. Kentucky Up to 90 days and/or $250
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 90 days and/or $250
(Class B misdemeanor)
1-5 yrs and/or $1,000-$10,000
(Class D felony)
1-5 yrs and/or $1,000-$10,000
(Class D felony)
19. Louisiana First offense up to 6 months and/or $500, 2nd offense up to 2 yrs and/or $250-$2,000, 3+ convictions 2-4 yrs and $500-$4,000 Up to 6 months and/or $500 5 yrs and/or $5,000 5 yrs and/or $5,000
20. Maine Up to 6 months and/or $1,000 then up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(First offense Class E crime, then consequent offenses class D crime)
Up to 6 months and/or $1,000 then up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(First offense Class E crime, then consequent offenses class D crime)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(Class D crime)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,000
(Class D crime)
21. Maryland Up to 1 yr and/or $500
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $500
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 10 yrs and/or $10,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $500
(Misdemeanor)
22. Massachusetts Up to 1 yr and/or $500 Up to 2 1/2 yrs and/or $1000-$5000 5 yrs and $5,000 5 yrs and $5,000
23. Michigan First offense up 93 days and/or $500, 2nd offense up to 1 yr and/or $1,000, 3+ convictions up to 2 yrs and/or $2,000
(1-2 offense misdemeanor, 3rd offense felony)
First offense up 93 days and/or $500, 2nd offense up to 1 yr and/or $1,000, 3+ convictions up to 2 yrs and/or $2,000
(1-2 offense misdemeanor, 3rd offense felony)
Up to 20 yrs
(Felony)
5 yrs or $2,500
(Felony)
24. Minnesota First offense is up to 90 days and/or $1,000, consequence offense is up to 1 yr and/or $3,000 First offense is up to 90 days and/or $500-$1,000, consequence offense is up to 1 yr and/or $1,500-$3,000 Up to 15 yrs and/or $30,000 Up to 15 yrs and/or $30,000
25. Mississippi 6 months and/or $200 6 months and/or $200 6 months and/or $200 6 months and/or $200
26. Missouri 30 days-6 months and/or $500
(Class B misdemeanor)
30 days-6 months and/or $500
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 10 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 10 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
27. Montana 6 months and/or $500 First offense up to 1 yr and/or $1,000, consequence offense up to 5 yr and/or $10,000 10 yr and/or $50,000 10 yr and/or $50,000
28. Nebraska Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Class I misdemeanor)
First offense at least $200, consequent convictions at least $500
(First offense class I misdemeanor, subsequent offenses class IV felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class IV felony)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Class I misdemeanor)
29. Nevada
See Section III below for legal prostition
Up to 6 months and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 6 months and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
1-4 yrs and/or $5,000
(Category D felony)
Up to 6 months and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
30. New Hampshire Up to 1 yr and $2,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and $2,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and $2,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and $2,000
(Misdemeanor)
31. New Jersey First offense up to 6 months and/or fine, consequent convictions up to 18 months and/or fine
(First disorderly persons offense, subsequent offenses crime of the fourth degree)
First offense up to 6 months and/or fine, consequent convictions up to 18 months and/or fine
(First disorderly persons offense, subsequent offenses crime of the fourth degree)
3-5 yrs and/or fine
(Crime of the third degree)
3-5 yrs and/or fine
(Crime of the third degree)
32. New Mexico First offense up to 6 months in a county jail and/or $500, subsequent offenses up to 1 yr in a county jail and/or $1,000
(First offense petty misdemeanor, subsequent offenses misdemeanor)
First offense up to 6 months in a county jail and/or $500, subsequent offenses up to 1 yr in a county jail and/or $1,000
(First offense petty misdemeanor, subsequent offenses misdemeanor)
Up to 18 months and/or $5,000
(Fourth degree felony)
Up to 18 months and/or $5,000
(Fourth degree felony)
33. New York Up to 3 months and/or $500
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $1,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 7 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class D felony)
Up to 7 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class D felony)
34. North Carolina Up to 45 days and a fine
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 45 days and a fine
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 45 days and a fine
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 45 days and a fine
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
35. North Dakota Up to 30 days and/or $1,000
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 30 days and/or $1,000
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
36. Ohio Up to 60 days and/or $500
(Third degree misdemeanor)
Up to 60 days and/or $500
(Third degree misdemeanor)
Up to 180 days and/or $1,000
(First degree misdemeanor)
Up to 180 days and/or $1,000
(First degree misdemeanor)
37. Oklahoma First offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $2,500, 2nd offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $5,000, consequent offenses 30 days-1 yr or up to $7,500
(Misdemeanor)
First offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $2,500, 2nd offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $5,000, consequent offenses 30 days-1 yr or up to $7,500
(Misdemeanor)
First offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $2,500, 2nd offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $5,000, consequent offenses 30 days-1 yr or up to $7,500
(Misdemeanor)
First offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $2,500, 2nd offense 30 days-1 yr or up to $5,000, consequent offenses 30 days-1 yr or up to $7,500
(Misdemeanor)
38. Oregon Up to 1 yr and/or $6,250
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $6,250
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $125,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $125,000
(Class C felony)
39. Pennsylvania First two offenses up to 1 yr, 3rd offense up to 2 yrs, and subsequent offenses up to 5 yr
(1st and 2nd offense a 3rd deg. misdemeanor, 3rd offense a 2nd deg. misdemeanor, 4+ offenses 1st deg. misdemeanor)
First two offenses up to 1 yr, 3rd offense up to 2 yrs, and subsequent offenses up to 5 yr
(1st and 2nd offense a 3rd deg. misdemeanor, 3rd offense a 2nd deg. misdemeanor, 4+ offenses 1st deg. misdemeanor)
Up to 7 yrs
(3rd deg. felony)
Up to 7 yrs
(3rd deg. felony)
40. Rhode Island

[Editor's Note: Indoor prostitution became legal in 1980 as a result of an unintential legal loophole created by legislators when enacting laws targeting street prostitution. The state passed new legislation to close this loophole on Nov. 3, 2009.]
Up to 6 months and/or $250-$1,000, subsequent convictions up to 1 yr and/or $500-$1,000
(Misdemeanor)

Up to 1 yr and/or $250-$1,000, subsequent convictions up to 1 yr and/or $500-$1,000
(Misdemeanor)

Up to 6 months and/or $500-$1,000, subsequent convictions up to 1 yr and/or $750-$1,000
(Only applies to soliciting from motor vehicles)

First offense 1-5 yrs and $2,000-$5,000, subsequent convictions 3-10 yrs and $5,000-$10,000
(Pandering)
First offense 1-5 yrs and $2,000-$5,000, subsequent convictions 3-10yrs and $5,000-$10,000
(Pandering)
41. South Carolina First offense up to 30 days or $200, 2nd offense up to 6 months and $1,000, 3+ at least 1 yr and/or up to $3,000 First offense up to 30 days or $200, 2nd offense up to 6 months and $1,000, 3+ at least 1 yr and/or up to $3,000 First offense up to 30 days or $200, 2nd offense up to 6 months and $1,000, 3+ at least 1 yr and/or up to $3,000 First offense up to 30 days or $200, 2nd offense up to 6 months and $1,000, 3+ at least 1 yr and/or up to $3,000
42. South Dakota Up to 1 yr in county jail and/or $2,000
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr in county jail and/or $2,000
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 2 yrs and/or $4,000
(Class 6 felony)
Up to 2 yrs and/or $4,000
(Class 6 felony)
43. Tennessee Up to 6 months and/or $500
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 6 months and/or $500
(Class B misdemeanor)
1-6 yrs and/or up to $3,000
(Class E felony)
1-6 yrs and/or up to $3,000
(Class E felony)
44. Texas First offense up to 180 days and/or $2,000, 2nd up to 1 yr and/or $4,000, 3+ 180 days-2 yrs and/or $10,000
(First offense is a class B misdemeanor, 2nd A misdemeanor, 3+ is a state jail felony)
First offense up to 180 days and/or $2,000, 2nd up to 1 yr and/or $4,000, 3+ 180 days-2 yrs and/or $10,000
(First offense is a class B misdemeanor, 2nd A misdemeanor, 3+ is a state jail felony)
2-10 yrs and up to $10,000
(3rd degree felony)
2-10 yrs and up to $10,000
(3rd degree felony)
45. Utah First offense up to 6 months and/or $1,000, subsequent offenses up to 1 yr and/or $2,500
(First offense class B misdemeanor, subsequent offenses are class A misdemeanors)
Up to 6 months and/or $1,000
(Class B misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(3rd degree felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(3rd degree felony)
46. Vermont First offense up to 1 yr or $100, second offense up to 3 yrs First offense up to 1 yr or $100, second offense up to 3 yrs 1-10 yrs and/or $200-$2,000 1-10 yrs and/or $200-$2,000
47. Virginia Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
Up to 1 yr and/or $2,500
(Class 1 misdemeanor)
2-10 yrs and up to $100,000
(Class 4 felony)
2-10 yrs and up to $100,000
(Class 4 felony)
48. Washington Up to 90 days and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 90 days and/or $1,000
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
Up to 5 yrs and/or $5,000
(Class C felony)
49. West Virginia 60 days-6 months and $50-$100 First offense 60 days-6 months and $50-$100, 2nd offense 6 months-1 yr and $100-$200, consequent offenses 1-3 yrs First offense 6 months-1 yr and $100-$500, subsequent offenses 1-3 yrs First offense 6 months-1 yr and $100-$250, subsequent offenses 1-5 yrs
50. Wisconsin Up to 9 months and/or $10,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 9 months and/or $10,000
(Class A misdemeanor)
Up to 12.5 yrs and/or $25,000
(Class F felony)
Up to 6 yrs and/or $10,000
(Class H felony)
51. Wyoming Up to 6 months and/or $750
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 6 months and/or $750
(Misdemeanor)
Up to 3 yrs and/or $3,000
(Felony)
Up to 3 yrs and/or $3,000
(Felony)
State Penalty for Prostitutes
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Customers
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Pimps
(Crime Classification)
Penalty for Brothel Owners
(Crime Classification)


III. Prostitution Laws in Nevada by County

According to Nevada state law all prostitutes must use a condom, and must be tested weekly for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and monthly for HIV. Brothel owners and prostitutes are required to be licensed and registered, and to pass a background check. To learn more, read the full-text of Nevada's prostitution laws.

County Legal Status Fees for Brothel Ownership per Year
(The fees below only include those specifically levied against operating brothels)
1. Carson City Illegal Not Applicable
2. Churchill County (PDF) 4.7MB Legal Unavailable
3. Clark County Illegal Not Applicable
4. Douglas County Illegal Not Applicable
5. Elko County Legal only in cities granting permission Depends on city
6. Esmeralda County Legal Unavailable
7. Eureka County No laws legalizing or prohibiting Not Applicable
8. Humboldt County Legal only in cities granting permission Depends on city
9. Lander County (PDF) 1.8MB Legal $200
10. Lincoln County Illegal Not Applicable
11. Lyon County (PDF) 1.9MB Legal 1-20 Rooms = $25,600
21-40 = $29,600
41+ = $33,600
12. Mineral County Legal Unavailable
13. Nye County (PDF) 3.5MB Legal 0-5 Prostitutes = $7,500
6-10 = $14,000
11-25 = $30,000
26+ = $150,000
14. Pershing County Legal only in cities granting permission Depends on city
15. Storey County (PDF) 3.5MB Legal $75,000
16. Washoe County Illegal Not Applicable
17. White Pine County Legal only in cities granting permission Depends on city

A chart titled "A State-By-State Look at Consensual Crime," in Peter McWilliams' 1996 book Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country, compares the legal status of various consensual sexual activities such as adultery, prostitution, and pornography (plus assisted suicide) across 50 states plus the District of Columbia (DC).