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Criminal Law Blog

Spotlight on Prostitution Laws in Arizona

August 27, 2021

Prostitution laws in Arizona are extremely strict. It is illegal to pay for a sexual act, to engage in a sexual act for money, or to facilitate the exchange of money for sexual acts. Typically, people convicted of a prostitution-related offense must spend time in jail under mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, and the penalties increase with multiple convictions or if other crimes occurred during the prostitution offense. There is no such thing as an insignificant prostitution offense, which is why it is so critical to have a criminal defense attorney with experience in sex crime cases at your side from the moment of your arrest. Take a closer look below at prostitution laws in Arizona. 

Three Types of Prostitution Charges

In Arizona, prostitution offenses are divided into three main categories:

  • Prostitution, which is the act of providing sexual services in exchange for money or something of value
  • Solicitation, which is the act of providing money or something of value in exchange for sexual services
  • Pandering or Pimping, which is the act of facilitating the exchange of sexual services for money or something of value

These laws are designed to target all three sides of a prostitution crime: the person who offers sex acts for money, the person who pays for them, and the person who connects those two parties or otherwise creates an environment in which the sex worker and customer may connect. 

Three Requirements for Prostitution Charges

For prostitution charges, there are three things that prosecutors must prove:

  • An offer of money or something of value was made.
  • The offer was made with the intention of exchanging the money or valuable item for a sexual act.
  • Action was taken to move forward with the agreement.

You do not have to have actually completed a sexual act in order to be charged with a prostitution-related offense. For instance, if you solicit a prostitute and exchange money but are interrupted by law enforcement officers before the act takes place, you can still be charged with a crime. 

Penalties for Prostitution Charges

Penalties for a prostitution conviction depend on the nature of the charges and whether or not you have previous convictions for prostitution-related crimes. The minimum penalties are progressive for prostitution and solicitation, so each conviction comes with more severe penalties. First offenses are class one misdemeanors with minimum 15-day jail sentences that cannot be suspended. 

Convictions for pandering or pimping can be more severe, especially if there are multiple charges at once, such as in a so-called house of prostitution. 

Factors that Increase Prostitution Sentences

There are factors that can make prostitution charges more serious and raise them to felony-level offenses, even on the first conviction. One such factor that can lead to significant jail time is prostitution that involves a minor. Engaging in prostitution with a minor can lead to sentences of up to 21 years for the first offense and 35 years for subsequent offenses. Anyone convicted of prostitution involving a minor will also be required to register as a sex offender

Human trafficking is another prostitution-related charge that carries significant penalties. For instance, detaining a person and forcing them to engage in prostitution to pay off a debt is a felony crime. 

Defenses for Prostitution Charges

The impact of being charged with a prostitution offense is far reaching. If you are convicted, you will face jail time, and your job and family may be at risk. You should never attempt to deal with the legal system on your own when you are facing prostitution charges. Call a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested, and never answer any questions without your attorney present. 

Some of the defenses your attorney may use, depending on the nature of your case, are:

  • Entrapment: This defense may be used if your arrest involved a sting by undercover officers.
  • Mistake of Fact: This defense is used when your attorney argues that the charges were the result of a misunderstanding of the circumstances by the arresting officer. 

Victims of human trafficking are also entitled to use an affirmative defense stating that they did engage in prostitution but only because they were forced to by someone who was victimizing them. 
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a misdemeanor prostitution charge is not serious. Let Janet Altschuler help you fight for your rights as you defend yourself against this potentially life-changing charge. Call our criminal law office in Tucson today at (520) 247-1789.

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