If you have recently been arrested on a charge of prostitution or solicitation to prostitution in Las Vegas or anywhere in Nevada, you could be facing serious consequences that would affect your life for many years to come.
Contrary to popular myth, prostitution is NOT legal in Las Vegas, nor in anywhere in Nevada except for a few rural, state-licensed brothels. Everywhere else, it is a crime that carries severe, long-lasting penalties.
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have a deep understanding of Nevada state laws dealing with prostitution and related offenses, and we have extensive experience in defending against these types of charges in local Las Vegas, Clark County, and other Nevada courtrooms.
Contact us today by calling 702-380-4278, and we can give you a free, no-obligation legal consultation anytime 24/7.
How Is Prostitution/Solicitation Defined Under Nevada Law?
Under Nevada Revised Statutes Section 201.354, prostitution is defined as any exchange of "sexual favors" of any kind for "something of value." Normally, that "something" is money, but it doesn't have to be to count as prostitution.
And "solicitation" is to offer or agree to exchange sex for something of value. That is, it is an agreement or offer to commit the crime of prostitution.
And as both prostitution and solicitation are criminalized under the same statute (NRS 201.354), they are treated the same and punished the same legally.
And also note that there are various other sex crimes that are often charged along with prostitution/solicitation, including: open and gross lewdness, indecent exposure, sexual battery, sexual assault, and trick-rolling. The latter crime is when prostitutes steal from their "johns" (whether or not any sex actually occurs), and it can be charged as either robbery or the lesser crime of larceny from a person.
However, pimping (equivalent to sex trafficking) is a separate and more severe crime than prostitution/solicitation. And most charged with NRS 201.354 would not be charged with pimping as well.
Note that while some kind of sexual contact/favor has to occur for it to be prostitution, this need not be actual intercourse. It could be groping through the clothes or sexual touching but without intercourse. And also realize that it is common for things like drugs, valuable jewelry, or other things of value to be exchanged for sex instead of just money - and it's all prostitution.
Solicitation is making any proposal for a prostitution agreement or accepting any such agreement. Even if no sex or sexual contact took place or nothing of value actually changed hands, it's still solicitation (even if harder to prove.) Plus, even if someone didn't intend to go through with the sex (but to fool someone or rob someone, etc.), it still counts as solicitation based on one's actions rather than intent, under Nevada law.
How Do Las Vegas & Nevada Police Make Prostitution/Solicitation Arrests?
There are a variety of ways that police make prostitution-arrests in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. It may be an officer witnessed what at least appeared to be a solicitation while out on patrol, or more commonly, a police sting operation takes place.
In undercover stings, law enforcement officers go undercover and play the part of "prostitute" or "john." They show up at well known local "hook-up spots," and try to get someone to agree to commit the crime of prostitution. Then, the officer reveals his/her identity and makes the arrest on the spot.
However, if police go "too far" and use threats or high-pressure, it becomes "entrapment" and the charge will not be valid.
As to evidence used by police and prosecutors, to try to prove you committed the crime of prostitution/solicitation, this can include undercover audio or video tapes, the "client book" of a prostitute, large stashes of cash, condoms, dress that might fit the description of a prostitute, or eye or "ear" witness accounts of a solicitation.
The use of "code-talk" like escort service, party (for sexual intercourse), or donation/gift for sex-payment, cannot in themselves prevent a conviction.
But also remember that a lot of the evidence prosecutors use is only circumstantial. A good defense lawyer can often prevent a conviction because the evidence used by the prosecution simply does not meet the high bar of "beyond all reasonable doubt."
Possible Penalties for Prostitution/Solicitation in Nevada
A first-offense prostitution or solicitation charge is a misdemeanor and usually does not result in actual jail time in Nevada. But repeat and aggravated offenses are often punished very severely. And "johns" are normally given stricter sentences than prostitutes.
For a first offense, a prostitute might likely be sentenced to a fine as high as $1,000, a jail term up to six months, or both. But there are usually ways to get around the jail time, if you have an experienced attorney in your corner.
But "customers" will often get the same fine/potential jail term, plus up to $600 more in fines/penalties.
Repeat offenses see the penalty steadily rise for prostitutes and customers alike.
Prostitution While Having HIV
In Nevada, everyone arrested for prostitution/solicitation is tested for HIV. They are then informed via mail of the test results, and if they were positive, they must appear in court to testify they now know they have HIV.
Anyone convicted of prostitution/solicitation who knew before the incident that he/she had HIV will be guilty of a Category-B Felony, punishable by from two to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
But if you did not know that you had HIV, the stiffer penalties will not apply.
Note that in many cases, we at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have won favorable plea agreements even where a total victory was unrealistic. We have reduced fines and eliminated jail time in favor of community service, and gotten other sentence reductions.
Plus, we have often helped first-time offenders avoid a conviction by agreeing to pay a $250 fine OR work 25 hours of community service, attend educational classes on AIDS and on the dangers of prostitution, and not get arrested again until the case is finally closed and the charge dismissed. This kind of "suspended sentence" deal prevents the creation of a permanent criminal record.
Also, we have often gotten prostitution charges reduced to lesser offenses like trespassing and disorderly conduct. And this can make a big difference when you apply for a new job or for enrollment in a college someday.
When Children Were Involved
An act of prostitution involving a child is a Category-E Felony in Nevada, punishable by from one to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
This crime is certainly very serious is often punished very harshly. But, probation or even a suspended sentence is still possible unless it's a 3rd or subsequent offense.
Additional felony charges for things like lewdness with a child under 16 or statutory sexual seduction can also apply in cases of prostitution/solicitation with a child.
Federal Charges & Immigration Consequences
Although prostitution as such is not a federal crime, it becomes one if the crime was connected with illegal immigration, crossing of state or international borders, or the US military.
If a non-citizen is imported into the US so as to use that person as a prostitute, the punishment is up to 10 years in federal prison plus a large fine. The same applies to moving people across state or international borders in connection with prostitution; and if a person is so moved against his/her will to be used as a prostitute, the penalty is up to 20 years in federal prison.
If prostitution/solicitation is committed nearby a US military base or installation, the penalty is up to 12 months in federal prison and a fine.
Furthermore, immigrants (even legal ones) can be deported from the US or face other serious immigration consequences if convicted of prostitution/solicitation.
Sealing of Prostitution/Solicitation Criminal Records
It is possible to get a prostitution or solicitation conviction sealed on your criminal record in Nevada. We at The Law Offices of Martin Hart know how to walk you through this process.
You can't begin the process until a full year passes from the date that your case was closed. However, if you had a suspended sentence from a plea deal and your case gets dismissed, you can immediately file to have the arrest record sealed.
The actual date of the sealing of a prostitution/solicitation conviction record can't be closer than 2 years to the date of the case closing. But for prostitution with HIV, a five-year wait is necessary. And for prostitution with a child, it is often not possible to get the record sealed at all.
Common Defense Strategies Against Prostitution/Solicitation Charges
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have used numerous defense strategies over the years to great effect in winning dismissals and acquittals for our clients, against a charge of prostitution/solicitation under NRS 201.354.
And we always customize each defense to the specifics of the case at hand.
However, there are three major basic defense types that are most common in defending against these charges:
- Police Entrapment
If you were not disposed to commit the crime of prostitution before the police approached you, but they used deception, threats, or extremely high pressure to lure you into it, an entrapment defense may work. Getting someone drunk, for example, by offering him/her free drinks and then soliciting for prostitution would be a form of entrapment.
Note that the defense attorney must first prove that the police initiated the solicitation to use this defense. If this can be done, however, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was predisposed to the act regardless of police actions. If prosecutors fail to meet this mark, we can get the charge dismissed.
- Innocent Mistake
Prostitutes and those seeking them often use severely coded language and signs, and this means that it's not hard for an innocent party to be misunderstood as agreeing to or soliciting prostitution by the other party or by police.
If it can be shown that no two-way understanding and agreement to exchange sexual favors for money or something else of value existed, then the case will be dismissed or aquitted.
- Lack of Overtness
Another possible defense is that the alleged solicitation was not overt, which it has to be according to Nevada law in order to violate NRS 201.354.
If a conversation overheard was too vague and no overt "deal" had been struck or verbalized, then the lack of an overt agreement can be a viable defense.
About Nevada's Brothel System
In Nevada, as mentioned above, there are licensed brothels where prostitution is legal. This is only true in about two dozen locations in 8 Nevada counties, although there are four more counties where prostitution in licensed brothels is allowed but, in fact, there are no such brothels.
Clark County (and Las Vegas) is not among the places in Nevada where brothels are permitted because it must be in more rural areas - counties with populations of 400,000 or more are disqualified.
Nevada is the only US state that allows prostitution to be legal in any context at all, but realize that only a small percentage of incidents are in brothels. And if strict "rules" set up by the government are not followed (like use of condoms) then that would also be illegal.
Contact Us Today for Assistance!
At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have fought and won numerous prostitution or solicitation defense cases in Las Vegas, Clark County, and throughout Nevada. For years, we have been winning dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges/sentences for our clients, and we stand ready to do the same for you.
We apply our full legal acumen and fight tenaciously for the future of each and every client. We always put ourselves into your shoes and represent you the way we would wish to be represented were our roles reversed.
Contact us anytime, 24/7/365, by calling 702-380-4278, for a free consultation and an immediate beginning to your case!