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Prostitution: The Texas Crime

Prostitution is a crime in Texas defined in Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal Code. As a Dallas criminal defense attorney with a broad sex crimes practice, I can represent you if you are facing charges of Prostitution anywhere in Texas. The DFW area is notorious for setting up prostitution stings, and law-abiding people are regularly caught up in the bust.

We can sometimes get Prostitution cases dismissed without a trial. If we are unable to get your case dismissed, we will decide together with you about whether we should take your case to trial. If we take your case to trial, we will aggressively seek a not guilty verdict through our innovative criminal trial strategies.

Being prosecuted for a criminal Prostitution charge in Dallas County, Collin County, Tarrant County or any other county in the DFW area is a serious matter, and we are serious about representing you and obtaining an outcome that is best for you and your life. Learn more about the Prostitution offense below, or if you have been arrested for Prostitution, please contact us for a free consultation at (888) 239-9305 or schedule a meeting in our Dallas office online.

What is the prostitution offense in Texas?

Prostitution is defined in Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code.

PROSTITUTION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly:
(1) offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct for a fee; or
(2) solicits another in a public place to engage with the person in sexual conduct for hire.
(b) An offense is established under Subsection (a)(1) whether the actor is to receive or pay a fee. An offense is established under Subsection (a)(2) whether the actor solicits a person to hire the actor or offers to hire the person solicited.

Therefore, whether you are offering to pay or be paid for sex (whether you are the “prostitute” or the “John”), you can be convicted for “Prostitution” under this section.

How can I be charged with prostitution if I…?

You can be charged with Prostitution if the police or other law enforcement believe that you engaged or attempted to engage in the exchange of sex for money. Virtually any sexual behavior could possibly qualify, although case law may set some limits. In addition, the Prostitution statute would apply to both those seeking to pay or be paid for sex. It does not matter whether any sexual activity eventually occurred, but evidence of sexual activity could be used to support the state’s prosecution case.

Dallas County, Tarrant County and Collin County frequently engage in “stings” to catch both “prostitutes” (those who are offering sex for money) and “Johns” (those who offer to pay for sex). Sometimes these prostitution stings can catch innocent bystanders. But frequently, law enforcement will charge anyone caught up in the sting with a Prostitution offense and “let the courts sort it out later.” This is one reason why you should hire a criminal defense attorney to defend your rights and protect your reputation.

What is the penalty for a conviction for prostitution?

The “typical” Prostitution offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 6 months in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Those are the maximum penalties, but that is not the typical outcome. Learn more about the classes of misdemeanors in Texas and other information about criminal penalties and jail time

What happens in any given case depends on your criminal lawyer, the specific facts of the case, the county in which you are charged, your criminal history, the judge and the district attorney(s) working your case, among various other factors.

As described in more detail below, the “typical” Prostitution offense can be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor, state jail felony or second degree felony based on different factors. The penalty ranges are described in Penal Code Section 42.02(c) and (e).

(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is:
(1) a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under this section;
(2) a state jail felony if the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under this section; or
(3) a felony of the second degree if the person solicited is younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person solicited at the time the actor commits the offense.

A “typical” Prostitution offense can also be used for enhancement for other crimes as specified below.

(e) A conviction may be used for purposes of enhancement under this section or enhancement under Subchapter D, Chapter 12, but not under both this section and Subchapter D, Chapter 12. For purposes of enhancement of penalties under this section or Subchapter D, Chapter 12, a defendant is previously convicted of an offense under this section if the defendant was adjudged guilty of the offense or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in return for a grant of deferred adjudication, regardless of whether the sentence for the offense was ever imposed or whether the sentence was probated and the defendant was subsequently discharged from community supervision.

What happens if I plead guilty to a prostitution charge?

If you plead guilty or “no contest” to a “typical” Class B Prostitution charge, one of several outcomes may occur:

  • 1. You may be found guilty and sentenced to jail and/or a fine. If you are sentenced to jail time, you will serve in the county jail unless you get a time served conviction, in which case you will not do any additional jail time.
  • 2. You may be found guilty and sentenced to community supervision (probation). If you are sentenced to a term of community supervision, you will be released to the supervision of the court, and the court will impose certain restrictions on you for several months. You may be eligible for Judicial Clemency later on.
  • 3. The judge may not enter a finding of guilt and instead place you on “deferred adjudication community supervision.” This is identical to the community supervision described above, except that if you complete the term successfully, your case will be dismissed and you will be eligible to receive an order of non-disclosure, removing most of the records of the arrest.

How can I get a prostitution charge dismissed?

You should hire a criminal lawyer to defend you against a criminal charge of Prostitution. There are numerous ways in which a criminal defense lawyer can get a prostitution case dismissed. If the alleged behavior doesn’t meet the definition under the statute, or if the evidence is insufficient under Texas case law, we may be able to get your case thrown out. Alternatively we may discover that the sting was conducted illegally or that evidence was conducted illegally. Sometimes your criminal lawyer may be able to work out a deal with state attorneys to dismiss your case in exchange for certain conditions. There is also a defense built into the statute at Section 42.02(d):

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor engaged in the conduct that constitutes the offense because the actor was the victim of conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20A.02.

Do I have to register as a sex offender if I am convicted of prostitution?

Prostitution is not currently a “Reportable Conviction” under Texas state law, so Texas law does not require you to register as a sex offender if you are convicted for Prostitution.

What happens if I am arrested for prostitution?

If you are arrested for Prostitution, the first thing that will happen is that you will be booked into jail or issued a citation to appear before a judge at a later date. Sometimes the police may inform you that they will seek a warrant at a later date. Once you appear before a magistrate judge, the judge will set a bond. If you are able to post the bond, you will be released from jail and certain conditions will be set for you to obey while you are on bond. After you are arrested or charged with the crime of Prostitution, the record of the arrest may be visible to the public. However, the record will indicate only that you have been arrested or charged, not that you have been convicted.

Can I get probation for prostitution?

If you are convicted for Prostitution, you will be eligible for probation. You may also be eligible for deferred adjudication probation.

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