No. Arizona law makes it a crime to knowingly engage in prostitution (ARS 13-3214), which is trading sexual favors for money or something of value. It is also a crime to solicit prostitution, which is offering or agreeing to trade sexual favors for money or something of value. Prostitution is usually a class 1 misdemeanor, and there is a mandatory 15-day jail sentence for a first-time offense.
What is prostitution under ARS 13-3214?
Under Arizona law, prostitution is defined as knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for money or any other valuable consideration. State law does not explicitly forbid soliciting prostitution – which is offering or agreeing to engage in prostitution. But many local ordinances do make solicitation a crime.
Note that the sex can be any kind of sexual act, such as vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, groping, or BDSM. And the valuable consideration can be not only money but also things or favors, such as a landlord agreeing to waive rent if the tenant submits to sex.1
Can I go to jail for prostitution in Arizona?
Yes, prostitution carries mandatory incarceration in Arizona.
|First-time||Class 1 misdemeanor:
|Second-time||Class 1 misdemeanor:
|Third-time||Class 1 misdemeanor:
|Fourth- or subsequent time||Class 5 felony:
How do I fight the charges?
There are many possible ways to fight prostitution charges in Arizona. Depending on the available evidence, five potential defense arguments include the following:
- There was no trade of sex for money. Perhaps any money that changed hands had nothing to do with the sex. Unless the D.A. can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any payment was for sexual favors, the charge should be dropped.
- No solicitation occurred. Perhaps there was a genuine misunderstanding where somebody believed he/she was being solicited for prostitution, but the defendant honestly did not mean to solicit. If prosecutors fail to prove that the defendant knowingly offered or agreed to engage in prostitution, the criminal case should not stand.
- The defendant was entrapped. Police are allowed to go undercover as hookers or johns and perform “stings” in attempt to catch other hookers and johns in the act of solicitation. But police are not allowed to entrap suspects, which means to trick someone into committing a crime he/she was not predisposed to. If the defense attorney can show that the police threatened or otherwise coerced the defendant into soliciting prostitution, the charge should be dismissed.3
- The defendant was a sex trafficking victim. Defendants who committed prostitution as a direct result of being a sex trafficking victim are not held criminally liable.
- The defendant was falsely accused. Perhaps someone levied false allegations against the defendant out of revenge, anger, or a misunderstanding. Perhaps the defense attorney can impeach the accuser’s credibility and reveal his/her motivation to lie. As long as a reasonable doubt exists as to the defendant’s guilt, the case should be dismissed.
- ARS 13-3214; ARS 13-3211; see also State v. Taylor, (1990) 167 Ariz. 429; see also State v. Loughran, (Ariz. Ct. App. 1985) 143 Ariz. 345, 693 P.2d 1000.
- ARS 13-3214.