Prostitution is strictly enforced in Texas through sting operations, and if convicted of prostitution or solicitation, you could face time in jail as well as hefty fines. If you believe you have been wrongly accused or are being investigated for prostitution, you should seek immediate legal representation. The best defense you can take when defending a prostitution charge in Harris County is to contact The Gonzalez Law Group. Our attorneys are experienced with prostitution in Houston, TX and they will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.
The Gonzalez Law Group proudly defends clients in communities in the greater Harris County area that include Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood, and numerous others. Call us today at (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in our online form for a free case evaluation.
Overview of Prostitution in Houston, TX
- What is Considered Prostitution in Texas?
- Penalties for Prostitution in Texas
- Promoting Prostitution
- Aggravated Prostitution
- Compelling Prostitution
- Houston Sting Operations
What is Considered Prostitution in Texas?
Sex in exchange for money is strictly illegal in Texas. Under Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual commits the crime of prostitution in the following manner:
- Knowingly offers or agrees to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct.
- Knowingly offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person to engage in sexual conduct.
- Solicits another person in public to engage in sexual conduct for hire
Offering to pay for sex can be considered the solicitation of prostitution. However, a conviction can only be reached if the individual actively tried to pay for sex and then attempted to commit the sexual act that was agreed upon.
Compelling prostitution is also a crime in Texas. The Texas Penal Code defines the crime as knowingly causing a child under 18 to engage in prostitution, regardless of if the defendant knew the age of the child. This is usually charged as a second-degree felony.
Penalties for Prostitution in Texas
While it’s a crime to offer sex in exchange for money, usually, the people who are convicted of prostitution are the ones attempting to pay for sex. The majority of law enforcement agencies have rehabilitation programs for prostitutes but not for the client. Listed below are the possible penalties for prostitution in Texas:
- A first-time conviction for prostitution or solicitation is considered a class B misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000
- If the defendant has one or two previous convictions for prostitution, solicitation or pimping it is considered a class A misdemeanor that entails up to a year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines
- If the defendant has three or more previous convictions for prostitution, solicitation or pimping it is classified as a state jail felony that is punishable by six months to two years in state jail and up to $10,000 in fines
- If the defendant is charged with compelling prostitution it is punishable as a second-degree felony that can entail two to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
In Texas, it is against the law to promote prostitution. This crime is defined under section 43.03 of the Penal Code as knowingly:
- Receiving money or other property as part of an agreement to participate in prostitution; or
- Soliciting another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.
If convicted of promotion of prostitution, you could be charged with a state jail felony that entails up to 180 days to two years in state jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
If you have been previously convicted of any prostitution-related offense and are then convicted of promotion of prostitution, you could be charged with a third-degree felony that is punishable by two to 10 years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution
There are certain circumstances that can result in a promotion of prostitution charges being upgraded to the aggravated promotion of prostitution. This offense occurs when a person knowingly:
- Owns, finances, invests in, controls supervises or manages a prostitution enterprise; or
- The enterprise has at least two prostitutes.
Aggravated promotion of prostitution is charged as a second-degree felony that is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If the enterprise has a prostitute who is younger than 18, regardless of whether or not the alleged offender was aware of the minor’s age, they could be charged with a first-degree felony that can result in five to 99 years or life in prison.
Using force, threat, or fraud to cause another person to participate in prostitution is considered compelling prostitution. The crime also involves causing children younger than 18 to commit prostitution.
If convicted, you could be charged with a second-degree felony, spend two to 20 years in prison and be required to pay up to $10,000 in fines. If you compel a minor under 18, regardless if you knew of the minor’s age or not, you could be facing a first-degree felony that is punishable by five to 99 years, or up to life in prison.
Houston Sting Operations
Like most laws in Texas, prostitution is strictly enforced in the state. In most cases, law enforcement will enforce prostitution laws by setting up sting operations to catch those in the act of prostitution and solicitation. In such scenarios, an undercover officer will usually pose as a prostitute or a solicitor and entice someone to pay for sex or engage in sexual activity. When that person agrees or attempts to carry out the sex act, law enforcement will make an arrest.
These sting operations are not considered entrapment by law enforcement. Entrapment is a situation where a police officer persuades another to engage in an illegal activity they would not normally engage in. But if the person is driving through an area that is known for prostitution and solicits a woman for sex, it is assumed the person was intending to engage in prostitution.
Additional Prostitution Recourse in Houston, TX
Texas Penal Code 43.02 Prostitution– Read the full text of the Texas Penal Code that establishes laws regarding prostitution in the state. The statute features definitions of prostitution and penalties. The statute can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes.
Houston Vice Department – Follow this link to learn more about the Houston department charged with suppressing prostitution in Harris County. The department also handles gambling, human trafficking, and nuisance abatement.
Contact a Prostitution Defense Attorney in Houston, TX
If you are being investigated for prostitution or solicitation, in Harris County it would be in your best interest to contact a sex crimes defense attorney from The Gonzalez Law Group as soon as possible. By choosing our firm you can rest assured that your case will be handled with trust and diligence. Call us today at (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in our online form for a free case evaluation. We assist clients in the greater Harris County area including Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood, and numerous others.