Will prostitution ever be legal? After all, it’s not all that different than dating – at least that’s a lot of people’s argument. In reality, it’s not that simple and that’s not how law enforcement and federal authorities see it.
While prostitution is in many ways similar to taking someone out on an expensive date, the problem is it promotes human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and drug abuse among other negative situations.
Often, the prostitutes themselves are minors and individuals forced into the sex trade; therefore, state and federal authorities invest great number of man-hours and resources into shutting down the illegal sex trade.
What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?
Before we dive into the penalties for prostitution in Texas, we want to explain how the State of Texas defines the crime. According to Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code, you commit the offense of prostitution if you:
- Offer or agree to receive a fee from another person to engage in “sexual conduct” with another individual.
- Offer or agree to pay a fee to someone else to engage in sexual conduct with that individual or another person.
As you can see, you don’t even have to engagein the act of prostitution to be charged with this crime. Simply offering or agreeing to exchange money for sexual conduct will suffice.
Prostitution is a “priorable offense” in Texas, which means the penalties get stiffer for subsequent offenses. A first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000.
A second or third prostitution offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and by a fine not to exceed $4,000.
A fourth prostitution offense is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Prostitution is a felony of the second degree if the customer or “John” agreed to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, regardless if the customer knew the minor’s age. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.