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 sex acts 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 solicitation of prostitution – which is offering or agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution. But many local ordinances do make solicitation a criminal violation of prostitution laws.
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
See our related article on the crime of pandering (ARS 13-3209), which is encouraging or coercing someone to engage in prostitution. Note that pandering is different from pimping (ARS 13-3204), which is receiving the earnings of a prostitute. Pandering is also different from keeping or residing in a house of prostitution (ARS 13-3208).
Can I go to jail for prostitution in Arizona?
Yes, a prostitution conviction carries a mandatory minimum of jail time in Arizona.
|First offense||Class 1 misdemeanor: |
|Second offense||Class 1 misdemeanor: |
|Third offense||Class 1 misdemeanor: |
|Fourth offense||Class 5 felony: |
Note that child prostitution is always a class 2 felony. If the minor was ages 15 to 17, defendants may be eligible for probation with a 180-day jail term that could be reduced to 90 days upon completion of counseling. Otherwise, prostitution with a minor carries prison. In addition, child prostitution carries sex offender registration whereas prostitution between two consenting adults does not carry sex offender registration.
How do I fight the charges?
There are many possible ways a criminal defense lawyer can fight prostitution charges in Arizona. Depending on the available evidence, five common 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 officers 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 law enforcement is 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 prostitution case should be dismissed on the basis of entrapment.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.
Our law group create attorney-client relationships throughout Arizona. The initial consultation is free. We defend against all types of charges, from sex crimes and theft crimes to drug crimes and violent crimes.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 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; see also Phoenix City Code 23-52.
- ARS 13-3214.