Is Prostitution Legal in Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is known as a place to take a gamble, but not when it comes to prostitution. Prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas or Clark County, where Las Vegas is the county seat.
Prostitution is, however, legal in certain parts of Nevada, and some are not far from Vegas. Under Nevada Revised Statutes § 201.354, prostitution is legal only in a licensed house of prostitution. These licensed houses of prostitution, called brothels, are permitted in rural parts of the state where fewer than 700,000 people live. This means of Nevada’s 16 counties, only 10 meet the criteria. They are:
- Mineral County
- Nye County
- Humboldt County
- Churchill County
- Lander County
- White Pine County
- Lyon County
- Elko County
- Esmeralda County
- Storey County
Even some of the counties listed above legally permit prostitution in incorporated areas only, not the entire county. The following counties do not authorize prostitution in any form:
- Clark County (where Las Vegas is located)
- Douglas County
- Eureka County
- Lincoln County
- Pershing County
- Washoe County (where Reno, Nevada, is located)
Carson City, Nevada also prohibits prostitution. It is worth emphasizing that working as a prostitute or soliciting a prostitute is illegal in all of Nevada’s counties in any place that is not a licensed brothel or house of prostitution. Unfortunately, tourists and other visitors to Las Vegas are not always aware of that, which can lead to legal trouble.
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Strict Rules Govern Brothels in Nevada
Even though prostitution is legal in certain parts of Nevada, the state’s strict laws that govern brothels aim to keep everyone safe. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the main concerns in the business.
To address that, brothel sex workers must agree to submit to regular testing to confirm the presence or absence of HIV, syphilis, and other STDs (Nevada Revised Statutes § 441A.120).
Brothel sex workers in Nevada also must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Work on their own free will
- Use condoms when performing sexual acts
- Be paid fair wages
Brothels must also meet certain restrictions:
- They must be more than 400 yards away from a school or place of worship.
- They cannot run their business on a main street.
- Their business cannot disturb neighboring homes or families.
- They cannot advertise their services publicly in any place where prostitution is illegal, including in Las Vegas.
Defining Prostitutes and Prostitution in Nevada
The confusion concerning whether prostitution is legal in Vegas somewhat stems from the unique laws Nevada has regarding the issue, so we’ll cover some basics here.
Despite Las Vegas’ reputation as “Sin City,” any person caught engaging in prostitution or solicitation can face criminal charges. This can be the person offering their services as well as the person who is seeking them out.
Nevada’s Definition of a Prostitute and Prostitution
Under Nevada Revised Statutes § 201.295, a prostitute is an individual who performs various sex acts to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either person for a fee or another thing of value, such as drugs, jewelry, electronics, and other items. State law defines “prostitution” as engaging in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee, monetary consideration, or another thing of value.
What About Escorts in Vegas—Are They the Same as Prostitutes?
No. Escorts and prostitutes are two different individuals under Nevada law. Escorting is legal, but if sexual activity takes place or if solicitation for sex takes place with an escort, all parties could face prostitution charges if caught.
Escort Services Are Legal in Nevada, But They Are Not Sex Services
Escorts and escort services are legal in Nevada, but the law makes it clear they are not synonymous with prostitutes or prostitution.
Nevada Revised Statutes § 368A.057 defines an escort as a person who “dates, socializes, visits, [or] consorts with” a person while accompanying them to public or private social affairs. It also explains that escorts do these things for payment, such as a fee or salary. Escort services are defined as a person who gets paid to provide these services to a patron.
Escorts and escort services should not involve any sexual activity or any expectation or solicitation for sexual activity. If that happens, the parties could face prostitution charges.
Prostitution and Solicitation Are Crimes in Las Vegas
Whether you offer prostitution services or seek them out, you could face charges if you are outside of a licensed place for these activities. Offering or asking for sexual favors can take place online through websites and advertisements or offline in places throughout Las Vegas and Clark County.
- Adult entertainment clubs
- Massage parlors
Generally, any venue that is not a licensed house of prostitution is off-limits to these activities. Sometimes, people are charged with prostitution and solicitation during undercover sting operations that are conducted by law enforcement. If you are in this situation, you may want to seek legal help now. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys help clients with these cases.
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Penalties for Prostitution and Solicitation in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas and Clark County, Nevada, you could face a misdemeanor charge if you are the alleged prostitute or the alleged customer (solicitor). Penalties include up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000 for individuals in both groups.
For prostitution customers facing multiple offenses, a felony charge could apply, which carries heftier penalties. If convicted, a person faces up to 364 days in Nevada State Prison and up to $2,000 in fines.
Vegas Prostitution and Solicitation Charges Stay on Your Record
Hiring a prostitution defense attorney who handles Las Vegas prostitution cases is often worth hiring. Whether this is your first prostitution or solicitation offense or fourth, our lawyer can work toward getting your charges reduced to protect your record and your future.
In addition to handling your case and minimizing your charges, a prostitution defense attorney can seek to resolve your Las Vegas solicitation or prostitution charge and seal your criminal record. This process can take several months and involve several steps, which our Las Vegas prostitution attorneys can walk you through.
If you don’t seal your criminal record, anyone who performs a background check on you will see charges from this situation. This can affect your ability to secure the house, job, or loan you want down the line, so getting legal help could be beneficial for this and other reasons.
Possible Defenses to Las Vegas Prostitution Charges
A prostitution defense lawyer with our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Law firm can review your prostitution charges and outline a defense to minimize the charges against you or get your case dropped or dismissed. Common defenses in a prostitution case include:
- No sexual activity took place: If there’s no evidence of the act, then it could be argued that it did not happen.
- Lack of intent: This means there was no intent to seek sexual favors or offer them.
- A misunderstanding: Authorities misinterpreted your behavior to mean you were offering sexual favors or asking for them.
- Entrapment: Our prostitution defense lawyer may be able to prove Las Vegas law enforcement tricked you into committing a crime that you otherwise would not have committed if you hadn’t been encouraged.
- Evidence obtained via an illegal search and seizure: If evidence of prostitution or solicitation is recovered illegally, such as a search that violates the Fourth Amendment, we could seek to have it dismissed.
Getting legal help ensures your side of the story receives consideration and that you have a legal advocate who will look out for you.
Call Us Today About Your Prostitution or Solicitation Charges in Las Vegas
If you are facing charges of prostitution or a prostitution-related offense, consider seeking legal representation as soon as possible. Prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas or anywhere in Clark County, but not everyone realizes this—especially visitors to the area who may think otherwise.
The legal team at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers will work on your behalf to protect your rights and help you navigate the legal process. You can call us 24/7 to speak with a team member for a consultation at 702-805-2694.