ARS § 13-3214 is the Arizona statute that makes it a crime knowingly to engage in prostitution. This is defined as taking part in, agreeing, or offering to engage in sexual conduct with any person for money or any other valuable consideration.
Most prostitution convictions are Class 1 misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail time.
- offering to provide oral sex to someone for $20.
- having sexual intercourse with a police officer to make a ticket “go away.”
- agreeing to sexual contact for a bottle of alcohol.
People can challenge prostitution charges with a legal defense. Three common defenses include accused persons showing that they were:
- a victim of sex trafficking,
- entrapped, and/or
- falsely accused.
A violation of ARS 13-3214 is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by:
- a jail sentence of up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $2,500.
Note, though, that if a person has three prior convictions of prostitution, then the fourth offense or any subsequent conviction is a Class 5 felony conviction. These felonies are punishable by custody in state prison for up to four years.
In this article, our criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona state law define “prostitution”?
It is unlawful for a person in Arizona to engage in prostitution.1
The state’s criminal laws say that “prostitution” means engaging in, agreeing, or offering to engage in sexual conduct with any person for money or any other valuable consideration.2
A few other definitions are helpful here:
- “Sexual conduct” means sexual contact, sexual intercourse, oral sexual contact, or sadomasochistic abuse.3
- “Sexual contact” means any direct or indirect fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus, or female breast.4
- “Sexual intercourse” means penetration into the penis, vulva, or anus by any part of the body or by any object.5
- “Oral sexual contact” means oral contact with the penis, vulva, or anus.6
- “Sadomasochistic abuse” means flagellation or torture by or on a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in revealing or bizarre costume or the condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained on the part of one so clothed.7
Note that Arizona law does not explicitly prohibit soliciting or solicitation of prostitution. However, many local ordinances do criminalize these acts.
“Solicitation” is generally defined as inviting or advertising for someone to engage in sexual conduct.
2. Are there legal defenses to a charge under ARS-13-3214?
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies/disclaimers to contest criminal charges and sex crimes under this statute. Three of these include showing that defendants were:
- sex trafficking victims.
- falsely accused.
2.1 Victims of sex trafficking
The language of ARS 13-3214D states that it is always a defense if a defendant committed an act of prostitution as a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking.8 A defendant, then, can use this subsection to help show his/her innocence.
Entrapment is when law enforcement personnel use some overbearing conduct to trick a suspect into committing a crime. The defense often arises when a person is charged with prostitution after an undercover sting. Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense provided that the accused shows he/she only committed the crime because of the entrapment.
2.3 Falsely accused
People get falsely accused of prostitution all the time – sometimes out of revenge or jealousy. No matter the reason, though, a defendant can always assert the defense that he/she was unjustly blamed.
3. What are the penalties?
A person that violates ARS 13-3214 is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor that is punishable by:
- custody in jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $2,500.9
The law also states that:
- a first offense of prostitution results in mandatory jail time of 15 consecutive days,
- a second offense in a mandatory minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail, and
- a third offense in mandatory jail time of 60 consecutive days.10
Further, if a person has three prior convictions of prostitution, the fourth offense or any subsequent one is a Class 5 felony. A fourth conviction also means that the convict is not eligible for any years of probation until he/she has served 180 straight days in jail.
A Class 5 felony is punishable by custody in state prison for up to four years.
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to prostitution. These are:
- pandering – ARS 13-3209,
- burglary – ARS 13-1501-ARS 13-1508, and
- public sexual indecency – ARS 13-1403.
4.1 Pandering – ARS 13-3209
Per ARS 13-3209, a person is guilty of pandering if he/she:
- places any person in the charge or custody of any other person for purposes of prostitution,
- places any person in a house of prostitution with the intent that such person become a prostitute or engage in an act of prostitution.
- compels, induces, or encourages any person to reside with that person, or with any other person, for the purpose of prostitution, and/or
- compels, induces, or encourages any person to become a prostitute or engage in an act of prostitution.
Note that a pandering charge can also bring about a charge of prostitution, in relation to the person subjected to the pandering.
4.2 Burglary – ARS 13-1501-ARS 13-1508
Under the above statutes, Arizona defines burglary as entering or remaining unlawfully in a structure or property with the intent to commit theft or any other felony.
Arizona has three degrees of burglary – first, second, and third.
Unlike with prostitution, burglary is always a felony offense.
4.3 Public sexual indecency – ARS 13-1403
ARS 13-1403 is the Arizona statute that makes it a crime for people to:
- engage in sexual contact, oral sex, sexual intercourse, or bestiality, and
- do so in the presence of another person with a reckless disregard as to whether the person would be offended.
Unlike with people guilty of prostitution, persons that commit a sexual act under this statute must register as a sex offender, per ARS 13-3821.
- Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3214. The language of the statute reads as follows:
A. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly engage in prostitution.B. This section does not prohibit cities or towns from enacting and enforcing ordinances to suppress and prohibit prostitution that provide a punishment for misdemeanor violations that is at least as stringent as provided in this section.
C. For the purposes of sentencing under this section, a previous violation of any city or town ordinance that prohibits prostitution and that has the same or substantially similar elements as this section shall be deemed to be a previous violation of this section.
D. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant committed the acts constituting prostitution as a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking.
E. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, except that:
1. A person who is convicted of a first violation of this section shall be sentenced to serve not less than fifteen consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served.
2. A person who is convicted of a second violation of this section shall be sentenced to serve not less than thirty consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served.
3. A person who is convicted of a third violation of this section shall be sentenced to serve not less than sixty consecutive days in jail, is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served and shall complete an appropriate court ordered education or treatment program.
4. A person who has previously been convicted of three or more violations of this section and who commits a subsequent violation of this section is guilty of a class 5 felony, shall be sentenced to serve not less than one hundred eighty consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served. This paragraph does not prohibit a person from being sentenced to serve a period of incarceration in the state department of corrections.
See also State v. Taylor, 167 Ariz. 429 (1990).
- ARS 13-3211(5).
- ARS 13-3211(8).
- ARS 13-3211(9).
- ARS 13-3211(10).
- ARS 13-3211(4).
- ARS 13-3211(7).
- ARS 13-3214D.
- ARS 13-3214E.
- See same.